Natalie came to work with us. She surprised us already during the job interview when she showed a dazzling performance on a machine on which we tested her manual skills. And she surprises us to this day as she keeps improving. We manufacture small but complex electronic devices. From the beginning, Natalie told me that the most complicated operation is micro-soldering, and she still thinks so, even after many years of practice. But she was most surprised to find that we didn’t have masters in production. “And who will tell me what to do?” She shouted in horror.    

I explained to her that she would follow her personal weekly plan and agree on what she was going to do with her colleagues on the relevant day. So that they wouldn’t get in trouble and production was running smoothly. The plan will still be displayed on the monitor on the wall, all you have to do is choose your name and immediately see how many operations it has planned and how much it still has to do. And how productive she is, whether she is faster or slower than the average for the last three months. So that she can guide herself in improving productivity. Because wage growth for the next period will depend on this, but not only this. On Monday, the HR staff will discuss this with everyone, as well as why the plan was fulfilled or exceeded or what prevented it from being fulfilled. At the same time, they take a minute or two to discuss what commitment she is giving for improvement for next week and in what. At the end, there is always the question of what the company can do for it, what would help it in its work.  

It calmed Natalie for a while. 

 All this is possible thanks to the fact that what, who and when does is recorded in production. The system is designed so that data is obtained automatically from each work operation and processed on a computer. Data on the plan and its implementation are still available to every operator in real time. The results from the previous week are incorporated into the plan for the following week. People follow their own personal plan and, by mutual agreement with others, do specific work so that the machines are used as evenly as possible. 

When Natalie got used to work, she said it worked well. 

She was more concerned with meeting personal requirements to obtain her quality brand. Because there is self-control. Operators actually sign for each product – they write their personal brand with a marker so that it doesn’t take long. “All right,” Natalia once remarked. “But what if I already have that quality mark and I’m not quite sure if the product is conformed or non-conformed?” I told her that she could ask anyone with the brand to look into it, and if that wasn’t enough, let them put the work in the detainees and she could decide on it together with the quality inspector. The point is that when there is any slight doubt about quality, it must be deal with full seriousness and responsibility and not with ‘that is good enough’. 

The operators understood. The proof is also that no external complaints have occurred so far. 

At first, Natalie still needed to get used to the fact that the team leader calls short meetings and that without a master, they solve things themselves. The strangest thing for her was that all the operators with the quality mark gradually took turns in the role of the team leader. In this way, they deal with who will do what when a bottleneck arises at a workplace, but also when going to a theater or a trip. Or last time they chose kitchen furniture. They already have a couch for a break through the breaks they can choose themselves. It’s also great that they have paid breaks, they haven’t heard of them elsewhere. And they could also choose how the walls would be painted – they were given paint and things and they beautified the spaces themselves. 

We had a workshop on the flow of money from customers through the company to people’s accounts and things around it. Shortly after that, Natalia told me jokingly that she liked the company so much that she would come here even if she didn’t get paid. I asked her from where would she have the money to live, to pay the bills, and so on. “I didn’t think of it that way,” she replied and smiled. It was nice to hear, although it was clear to both of us that it was unrealistic in practical life. 

This is what it looked like when the Swiss bought the company. 

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