Organizing for Success
Manufacturing organizations have “personalities” based on the philosophy of
the persons who set them up. There seems to be two distinct perspectives.
For discussion purposes, I will call them the interdisciplinary team (IDT)
concept and the multidisciplinary team (MDT) concept. Both concepts meet
the deﬁnition of a team—a group of people working toward a common
goal—but there are signiﬁcant differences. Some might say that the IDT is
modern, while the MDT could be considered “old school.”
In the IDT, there is lots of overlap between disciplines, and boundaries
are not clearly deﬁned. People feel free to dabble in their “neighbor’s” area
of expertise, and often this is encouraged to get “fresh ideas.” Everyone in
the IDT reports directly to the manufacturing team manager and shares a
common ofﬁce area.
In the MDT, there is considerably less overlap between disciplines. Each
team member is considered an expert in his or her ﬁeld of discipline. While
everyone is encouraged to share their ideas, they tend to restrict them to their
area of expertise. Technical specialists may have a desk in the manufacturing
team ofﬁce area, but their real desk is back with their technical group, who
they rely on for consultations and backup. And, while they are accountable
to the manufacturing team manager for results, they ofﬁcially report to their
respective technical manager, who is a senior member of their discipline.
If you ask someone on the street what the job of manufacturing is, the
person would likely say that it is to “make products” or words to that effect.
While that may be true if you have a monopoly, the day you have to start
130 ◾ Removing the Barriers to Efﬁcient Manufacturing
competing, manufacturing becomes two jobs: making products and improv-
ing the system. The question is which team concept, IDT or MDT, does the
best job of doing both?
The Interdisciplinary Team Concept
The IDT concept was supposed to be the wave of the future in manufactur-
ing. Using this approach, the manufacturing team encompasses all supporting
functions for streamlining and self-sufﬁciency. All of the technical disciplines,
maintenance, and production resources ofﬁcially report to one manager who
is responsible for producing the product. As stated, overlap between positions
and exchange of ideas is encouraged, which some people even refer to as
“cross-pollination.” While this seems to be a valid premise, in my opinion the
IDT concept evolved due to dissatisfaction with the MDT. That was because
support people working in functional silos were thought to be insulated from
the consequences of poor manufacturing performance—unlike those in pro-
duction, whose personal careers were on the line daily. To be more speciﬁc,
engineers and maintenance technicians were not directly accountable to the
production function and appeared to set their own priorities. So, the theory
was if you gave them all the same boss, they would be considerably more
responsive because they would be too afraid to do otherwise.
An example IDT organizational chart is shown in Figure12.1. In it we
see there are three product teams, with each containing all of the engineer-
ing and maintenance resources needed to sustain day-to-day operations. To
the right are the process engineering and reliability leaders, who are there
to provide mentoring to their respective technical resources in the product
teams. In reality, both of these leadership positions may have insufﬁcient
inﬂuence since all of the real authority is vested in the product team manag-
ers. This has the potential for engineering resources to be relegated to put-
ting out ﬁres each day instead of being allowed the time to pursue analytical
solutions that would improve the system.
The Multidisciplinary Team Concept
In contrast to the position overlap in the IDT, the MDT is more like a pro
football team or a machine. Machines have individual parts, with each hav-
ing a single function. For example, in your car’s engine, the valves cannot