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The Dow Chemical Company Message Board

  • aziraphalesethics aziraphalesethics Apr 2, 2004 12:35 PM Flag

    Job Cuts

    I haven't heard much on job cuts lately. First quater is over. What's new with the latest RIF?

    AZ

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    • "But most of all teamwork" from the last sentence of your post.

      How many of you remember the movie "Patton"? A direct quote from that movie is "the U.S. Army is a TEAM, this individuality stuff is a bunch of crap". George C. Scott delivered that line when he was in the role of General Patton, who by the way, also fell out of grace but he had a point.

    • Just a thought here to possibly deal with the corporate politics of SS. The key here is to start a paper trail for a good idea, then let your boss steal it to do your marketing and leg work within the SS process.

      To start, you restate your idea in the form of a patent disclosure, which provides a paper documentation trail for who could get credit if and when it comes to that. Does a disclosure have to be a work of art? No. Key point is to take the original idea, cloud it with alot of BS charts, flow diagrams, formulas, etc. Make sure your boss will not really understand it. Note, a disclosure does not have to be "patentable" at that point, it is simply a written description of an idea. No claims are needed. Make sure to get a collegue to witness the material.

      If your boss doesn't understand it, then he or she'll just sign it to get it off their desk.

      Next, the disclosure goes to the legal office. They will call you into sign over the rights, and you get your "consideration," a buck. They will file it for follow up in 6 to 9 months.

      After you get the disclosure signed and filed with the legal office, then you clean the original material up, remove the graphs and flowcharts. Get the language simple. Then re-submit it to your boss for the SS process. He or she won't even recognize that it was the patent disclosure. So, the boss goes to town, thinking they've just stole another great idea. They will then do six months of marketing and politicing to get this turkey to fly. If it does, then contact the legal office. Tell them you'd like to get that disclosure cleaned up for a filing. Maybe even a provisional one, which is cheap and needs no claims.

      At that point, reintroduce your boss to the patent disclosure and filing. They may be pissed. But, you can offer a nice solution of putting their name on the patent. (Happens all the time.) Besides, how are they going to refuse? If anything comes of the development, you share in the credit.

      Anyway, just a thought. And, don't get too depressed over the crap going on at Dow. It's always been like that. Maybe worse now, but it's been bad in the past.

      Have a good week.

      tnr

    • Well... you have described BAD MANAGEMENT ! Not all ideas need six sigma but six sigma can be valuable in its appropriate application.

      However, I do believe you exagerate the situation! Not everything takes six months. Not every Manager steals the good ideas. If a truly team approach is used things do work out a lot better. I am not familiar with the workings of Dow but the company I worked with for over 30 years put ideas to work much sooner than six months. But they used more than one tool e.g. Activity Based Costing, Cycle Time Management, but most of all Team Work.

    • You are a very dangerous person... you are getting too close to the truth. This is one reason the Japanese have the edge on reducing costs in manufacturing. No "stars" (like belts of many colors)... just clear thinking and results. Beneficial results are celebrated by all, not attributed to a process like Sick-Sigma.

      It is true that SS is sometimes effective. But in many of those instances any reasonable "improvement program" would have done the job. Or no "program" at all... just a few good people who know what they are doing.

      The fact is that American industry paid little attention to "improving" until we got jerked around by the Japanese in the 1970s. Then "we" discovered Dr. Deming and there was a hue and cry to "do something quick". Deming warned against this... "no fast food in the improvement business"... but we played catch-up with the Japanese in some industries. This was mostly in making "pieces and parts".

      The chemical industry felt little heat from the Japanese, and plodded along as usual. After several waves of different kinds of "improvement programs" the chemical industry finally drifted into Sick-Sigma.
      In doing so, the fellow who has a good idea is (as you have rightly said) either ignored or
      must become a part of the Sick-Sigma priesthood in order to be heard... and in order to get credit. But the SS process gets the credit, not the person who first conceived of the idea.

      There are exceptions to this, of course. But you have said it will, and have described it accurately.

    • Let's see. I have an idea to improve a process. I go to my manager with the idea. My manager deems it worthy of a six sigma process. 6 months later and tens of thousands of dollars later the study proves what my lab work let me know before and it is implemented. My manager gets a award for my idea and it is eventually implemented with six sigma getting all the credit.

      No idea, no matter how good, gets implemented until it gets labeled six sigma. Gee, six sigma is wonderful.

    • The DRIVEL, as you call it, is quite pragmatic and not the result of Haavard! Do you have any clue as to what Activity Based Costing is and how it uncovers real cost? That is one of the tools that enables the acurate valuation of six sigma processes.

      Do all six sigma efforts work? NO ! Do quite a few of them? YES !

      Can managememt suborne them? YES ! Just remember no tool turns BAD MANAGEMENT INTO GOOD MANAGEMENT!

      Just took a break for Easter. I wish you a Happy Easter!

    • You have hit the nail on the head.

      I could write a book on what I see happening at many companies (paralleling your example) but more extreme. In one company "if you aren't working toward being a green belt, then we wonder why you are still here." So people scramble to get on teams so they can say "see, I'm right in there with the Sick-Sigma program" while charging time to overhead or to other projects. In that same company most managers are black belts "by definition". Rather than managing, they are working on SS projects just to show they are on board. The whole thing is a farce.

      This is not to say there are no benefits to SS. Only to say that I see too much funny accounting and hidden costs. The benefits are nowhere as great as upper management has been led to believe... and a long way from what appears in the corporate annual reports.

    • Rhaw:

      Happy Easter! We are recovering from kids and grandchildren. Love 'em dearly, and it's too quiet around here right now.

      The Bosten Experience Curve has been applied to a lot of situations. It seems to work best when dealing with "making pieces and parts" where experience and other factors keep putting pressure on costs.

      I've seen analyses such as the one you described applied in the process industries, where wearout, breakdown, and process obselence
      (I know that's not spelled right!) eventually take over and the cuve begins to move upward.
      That (to me) is a clear warning of impending problems. If nothing more, MC data should be kept and presented in this manner because that helps managers visualize the harsh facts... "this puppy is headed for trouble".

      Be of good cheer...

      Charlie

    • Add to this these older plants are run by fewer, younger operators. At one time we in Canada were concerned that it took a minimum number of collective years of operating experience to run these plants safely. Throw in a little loss of 'Operating Discipline' for good measure and what do we have? Three easy guesses and the first two don't count.

      Your comments?
      Our new catch phrase is "Acceptable risk"
      Like running a 2 person unit with 1 for 4 hours, "if you have a problem, there is a staff person at home about 15 minutes away"
      or not staffing ERT positions, like EMT's or IC's when site procedures specify it.

      About 2 years ago, It happened were a new board operator, had just tested out about 15-30 days when he was scheduled to work on a shift that also had a new outside operator and no other board operators let alone someone who knew the process. Both of us on the shift that they made relief with, left out phone numbers incase they had problems.

      As long as nothing happens, nobody cares, If something happens "why did you run like this when you knew it was not right.

      A buddy of mine told me at the site he works, they have SV's and vents that are plugged, controls that have to be run on manual and they run any way until they have a planned shutdown, because of production needs.
      It is sort of the "Don't ask Don't tell"

    • charlieh,

      Speaking of curves, like the Boston Experience Curve, we took note of the 'bathtub curve' in tracking the manufacturing cost, MC, of a plant. It went something like this. The first few years following the initial startup were 'the learning years' where MC fell rapidly the for about 5 years. For the next 15 years or so, the MC cost curve stayed relatively flat or decreased slightly. Then, as the plant got into these older years of operation, the equipment started breaking down more often and the MC started rising again. Put this curve together over 20 years it comes out shaped like a 'bath tub' (in elevation view). Modernization and up-grading helps, but many plants haven't had this luxury.

      Add to this these older plants are run by fewer, younger operators. At one time we in Canada were concerned that it took a minimum number of collective years of operating experience to run these plants safely. Throw in a little loss of 'Operating Discipline' for good measure and what do we have? Three easy guesses and the first two don't count.

      Your comments?

      Rhaw

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