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Make Value, Not Widgets!

I was taught in school that manufacturing folks made widgets. Raw materials entered in one side of the plant, magically came together, widgets popped out the other and customers bought them as soon as they hit the shelf. Life would be so much easier if we only had to build a widget but alas, we “make” value not widgets.

In reality, everyone on the manufacturing team works to a common goal of making something. It may be converting raw materials into a mold or stamping coiled steel into fenders or wiring an electrical harness. Every where you look in a manufacturing facility you’ll see hard working folks making “stuff”. Most of the time the “stuff” each workstation produces is only a small piece of the overall product. (**Try disassembling your toaster and see how many parts there are. Someone had to make each component and then assemble it.)

A potential problem when “stuff” is built at the granular level is that you can lose sight of the overall product that the customer is buying. And since manufacturing makes “stuff” the customer wants at a quality level with an affordable price we have a common goal. Some roles in the production process are easily understood and have a “direct”, minute by minute association with the “stuff” while other roles are not well-defined and are considered “indirect”.

Whether your role is “direct” or “indirect” you have the same goal: Add value to your part of the process even when you can’t see the final outcome. Easy to say, much harder to do on a daily basis.

Simply put – your value is how much you improve the cost of material or labor or both. In the complex world of manufacturing, everyone on the team has a significant role of bringing value to the processes that the workforce uses to make the product. The shop floor rings the cash register. The salary workforce controls how well the ring sounds.

Here’s an overly simplistic value chain – but think about it from where you stand. What’s your value chain?

When in doubt, choose to work on the things that drive bottom line performance improvement. Bring value to your area.

Be Intentional,


**My husband disassembled our toaster and put it back together. He wants to know why there’s always one screw leftover and is it important? If you know, please feel free to comment below.