self-directed team is a multiskilled cross-functional group of
employees who share responsibilities for producing a particular service
The difference between a self-directed team and a cross-functional team
the self-directed team possesses full-empowerment of responsibility for
The concept of using groups of cross-functional employees in
modern business in the form of a team has been around in the U.S. for
Self-directed teams have been used in Great Britain and Sweden since
Cross-functional teams, which are teams of people representing
different functions and functional parts of an organization, have been
in the construction industry in the U.S. since the 1960's and earlier
specific projects. Other companies used cross-functional teams to
special projects. Work teams emerged in the late 1970's as an approach
implementing MRPII systems.
The emphasis in the U.S. came during the 1980's after the U.S. lost
substantial market share in major markets. Major competition was from
in steel, electronics, automotive and other industries. As a response
the devastating blow U.S. corporations suffered, they began to look for
techniques for doing business differently, and lean. What they found
techniques being employed in quality initiative that had been taught to
by the U.S in the post World War II era.
As major companies began to restructure themselves for competitiveness
in the 1980's, they began to employ cross-functional teams to create an
organizational approach to design and implementation, first as project
then as permanent organizational entities.
The companies also found that the Japanese were using very simple
approaches in manufacturing that cross-fertilized to the U.S. beginning
Just-in-Time, TQM, and Kaizen. With the implementation of Just-in-Time
Kaizen, U.S. companies began to rearrange shop floors into
cells. With the cells came cell teams that were multi-functional and
Simultaneously the TQM concepts developed in the U.S. employed the use
quality improvement circles and teams. Eventually With TQM, the idea
to other parts of the organization and coupled with the Japanese idea
empowerment of workers, became a movement of its own known as
work teams. Today, self-directed teams have become a useful device in
change and increasing productivity.
work teams have a solid track record and many case studies have been
demonstrated their success. One of the major issues surrounding the use
of self-directed teams is empowerment.
People are empowered when
they are given the authority and responsibility to make decisions
their work with a minimum of interference and second guessing by
others. When people are empowered they bring their minds to work. They
in making decisions that affect their part of the business. They take
for their actions. They work free from the petty bureaucratic hassles
diminish value and waste time. They add value to the organization by
the principles of quality and service. They search for ways to make a
The problem is our view of organizations is based on the military
model of hierarchy and chain of command. People above make the
people below carry them out. This model is firmly entrenched and
to overcome. The problem is many lower and middle level managers have
giving up what they perceive is their hard-earned right to make a
decision. Thus they are living in a paradigm that is hard to change.
change is the result of this paradigm.
use of Self-Directed work Teams can increase competitiveness. One solid
application is using the team as a device to compress total throughput
in an organization from order entry through shipment. As an example,
development of customer service cells along with collocation of the
members has long proven to show clear results in compressing the time
takes to get an order to the shop floor.
But just like anything
else, using Self-Directed Teams is no panacea, nor should it be
as a religion. It is an operational strategy that, if implemented
can provide a new dimension to competing: quickly introducing new
high quality products and delivering them with unprecedented lead
swift decisions, and manufacturing products with high velocity.
Approach: Tools from a Toolchest
Consulting Group applies concepts and technologies as the situation
that result in the ultimate benefit to our clients. We treat
technologies, and methodologies as tools in a toolchest, and use them
they offer practical solutions and achievable results. We believe that
client situation is unique, with its own unique set of solutions. (Please see our
managing change programs Managing Change Consulting Services
Consulting Group can provide long-term assistance to many companies in
a variety of industries. The firm has a cadre of the best management
consultants in the world today, providing high quality professionalism
through the use of experience and innovation.
subscribe to the Institute of Management Consultants Code of
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principles. Whenever possible we will use consultants certified in
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provide technical expertise, team facilitation, leadership, and
direction in deciding how you will meet the challenge. We refer you to
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areas of specialization, concepts and technologies applied, staffing,
operating policy, approach, companies and industries served, case
studies and references. Equally as important, we train our clients to
sustain new methods of manufacturing and the consequential benefits
over time. Your company will benefit directly from this training.
have achieved an efficiency in our approach to assignments that allows
us to provide high quality technical and managerial advice in a much
shorter amount of time than could be accomplished years ago. We are
able to do this because of the extensive consulting experience that
each of our specialists has.
Consulting Group, Ltd.
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