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Management Schemes Part 2 - A Short Glossary of Terms

Management Schemes  Part 3  – Putting Together a Plan

Every month it seems like there's a new management scheme introduced to the workforce. Like hula hoops, these fads come and go, but some have been around for awhile now. Even though many of these terms refer to manufacturing, a good number have been adopted for use in the service sector:

Cell Manufacturing
All the machines used to manufacture similar products are grouped together in a given area, instead of separate departments for each type of machine. Supposed to cut down on material moving and workers, by having workers cross-trained to run more than one type of machine or perform more than one function.
Just in Time (JIT)
A production system that does not use inventory. Products and parts are produced only when they are ordered and needed. Companies save money by having no inventory on hand. Since there is no inventory, workers can have a lot of control over the production process and therefore over the employer. Most JIT systems use heavy brainwashing so workers won't use their power over the employer.
Direct Flow Technology
A variation of a Just in Time production system. Products are only produced when they are ordered, in the exact number that was ordered.
High Performance Workplace
A system where the union works with the management to cross-train everyone on skilled jobs and agrees that all non-skilled work can be farmed out to low wage shops.
ISO 9000
A standardized system of measuring quality, developed in Europe to ensure everyone was using the same standards. US companies that want to sell in Europe need ISO certification. ISO stands for "International Standards Organization." In the US companies usually try to add team concept, or Just in Time and claim it is required under ISO regulations.
Kaizan
A Japanese system basically developed at Toyota Co. It means continuously improving production to make it more efficient. This usually means all idle time is filled with running machines.
Kanban
Originally a Japanese term for a sign that indicated a need for more parts to be produced. It is one of the many forms of Just in Time production.
KITA
A management by stress program developed by GE. It constantly moves workers around and lays off workers. It really means "A Kick in the Ass."
Lean Production
When employers say they want "lean production" it means they want speed-up, job combinations and to do away with all "non-productive" workers, like inspectors, janitors, material movers etc. The remaining workers have to do it all. Lean production is often used to describe all the types of various management schemes.
Management by Stress
This theory reasons that improvements only come about when there is a certain amount of tension in the workplace. Bosses create this tension by constantly demanding more, in less time, with fewer employees. They also create tension by demanding changes in how work is done, even if no change is really needed. A by-product of "management by stress" is also known as "workplace violence."
Pay for Knowledge
A system where workers get paid more as they become cross-trained and learn other jobs. This tends to compress job classifications into a few large categories so workers can be transferred to any job in the classification. It often fails because the employer wants to pick and choose who gets trained.
Push-Pull Systems
A "pull" system means that manufacturing is only done when orders come in. The orders "pull" the product through the factory. Direct Flow systems are "pull" systems. A "push" system refers to a company pushing parts and products through the production process whether or not they have orders.
Quality Circles
Workers form circles to discuss with the boss ways to improve quality. Bosses use this to get workers to complain about each other and to by-pass the union structure.
Self-Directed Workforce
A program where employers get rid of foremen and make the workers manage themselves. This can be fun if all the workers agree not to rat each other out.
Six Sigma
A program of statistical process control developed by Motorola and expanded upon by GE which is pitched as a way to cut defects and eliminate rework. Through process mapping and other techniques, the objective is for the company to gain complete knowledge and "control" of the work process. This leads to increased standardization of jobs, less reliance on the skill and knowledge of the workers, and helps pave the way for the transfer, speed-up and elimination of work.
Statistical Process Control (SPC)
A system where workers carefully document how their machine runs and all the steps they take to produce a product. This is supposed to help maintain quality, but usually it is used to eliminate in process quality inspectors.
Team Concept
A variation of quality circles. Workers form teams in each work area and compete with other teams to produce the most for the boss. This usually comes with heavy brainwashing sessions on why workers and the employer should be buddies.
Win-Win Bargaining
A supposedly non-confrontational form of negotiations. Neither side is supposed to prepare an agenda or demands. The problem is, the boss always has an agenda.
WorkOut
A GE program ostensibly designed to encourage "boundaryless" behavior by encouraging open group discussion of work-related issues between workers and management. In reality, it is a means by which the company accesses the workers' ideas and knowledge of their jobs to cut costs and to ratchet up productivity. Also known by GE workers as the "out of work" program.
Worker Empowerment
A term bosses use when they want workers to help them improve quality and speed-up production. Having the power to speed-up work is supposed to make workers feel "empowered." Worker empowerment does not apply to deciding on who gets the profits, setting work schedules, deciding what country to produce in, or any other item that really matters.

In Part One we describe the history and origins of managements various schemes, and, in Part Three, we look at how the Union can make a plan to deal with them.