Chapter 7. A Trip to Boston to Dispel the Fog

Another day, another plane ride. The Boeing 727 rose above Queens and Manhattan and headed north toward Boston. Andy and I were visiting a couple of electronics suppliers to assess their capability, and their openness to joint kaizen. Chloe needed suppliers who were not only capable, but also cooperative. It would be an uphill battle, given how we've treated them.

Andy suggested we also drop in on Dr. Sam Sparrow, a management studies professor at Boston Institute of Technology (BIT). Sparrow had worked with Andy a decade ago as part of his doctorate. I was surprised. Like most plant managers, I'm impatient with academics—shiny-asses, Bill Barrett called them. What had this fellow done to warrant Andy's attention?

Andy was taking a snooze. I sipped tomato juice and looked out the airplane window. The rising sun seemed to mirror my hopes. The financial tsunami was receding. The economy was showing signs of life and we started selling cars again. Our new models, including Chloe, were generating a positive buzz. We were the underdog now and many people were rooting for us. I knew others saw us as corporate welfare bums.

We were four months into our journey and eight months from the Chloe launch. Our first round of Lean boot camps had been a success—both the executive and Lean coordinator streams. Most executives were open and honest. They seemed to realize this might be our last chance. Might as well tell the truth.

We had a few jackasses. ...

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