Friday, September 14, 2007

Industrial Engineers in McKinsey

McCoy, Faulkner Melissa


Class: ‘89 (BS)

Comments: Upon graduation, I accepted a job with Freudenberg-NOK (a tier I automotive supplier) in GA. I met my husband there. We were then transferred to the corporate headquarters in MI. I then worked for Chrysler Corp. After returning to GA in 1996, I went to work for GA Tech. I have spent most of my career consulting on Mfg. Systems Improvements. After the first of the year I will be joining McKinsey & Company as a Mfg. Specialist based out of Atlanta.

The complete, untold story of McKinsey & Co.'s founding father
This is the authoritative and insightful account of Marvin Bower, who helped found McKinsey & Co. in 1939 and served as managing director of the firm from 1950 to 1967, and of how Bower, an attorney, took a concept known as industrial engineering and transformed it into what we now know as management consulting. As Dick Cavanagh, now CEO of the Conference Board, said, Bower "didn't just preach values, he practiced them. . . . He was a teacher as well as a leader."

1 comment:

ashok said...

Download the original attachment
Industrial Engineering – its relevance over the decades

Early History

It all began a 100 years ago with Fredrick Taylor beginning his work with organized labour on work measurement and productivity improvement and Henry Ford implementing the concept of an assembly line operation in an automobile plant. This resulted in a transition of workers from ‘craftsman’ positions doing the “whole” job to skilled workers doing only part of a job and not knowing how to do the whole job.

Experts knew best and persons with industrial engineering background began studying various complex jobs and then training the work force on how best to do them. This brought in a measure of standardization with importance being given to standard working practices and standard operating conditions. Basically, the message to the workers was that the company needed their hands and legs only in order to do their jobs as instructed and for them not to think or act independently in order to ensure production of a uniform product. “Leave your head behind at home” was the common refrain and “do only as you are told ”. This became the American way of conducting the business of manufacturing efficiently and effectively. However, this system missed the benefits of inputs from the workers who really performed the job on the shopfloor and knew best of the problems they encountered and what improvements could be made. Thus began an era of writing job descriptions & providing incentives to the workers and also job evaluations to establish the working hierarchy in a factory. Job instructions were issued, people were trained and the innovative man was gradually turned into a robot.

Japanese Intervention

The Japanese turned this whole system upside down. They wanted to unleash the true potential of workers by making them think on the job, by giving them the freedom to bring about changes and to give suggestions by establishing Quality Circles. These included many new concepts such as Just in Time, TPM, TQM and basically, high discipline at work. Such a way of working led to a critical examination of each reject, each failure, each delay and each accident. The Japanese methodology was to achieve zero failures, zero rejects, zero delays and zero discharge, i.e. “doing things right the first time”. This lead to a new discipline and method of working on the shopfloor and ‘synergy” was born. ‘‘2 + 2 became 5” in Japanese establishments and not 4. Being highly successful, such Japanese practices were eventually copied by West in the 80’s and others followed later.

Present Scenario

Today we work in a highly competitive world where fairly similar technology is available at the same price anywhere. The difference between the productivity of nations is due mainly to labour efficiency, labour cost, skilled workforce at hand and the degree of innovation achieved. With the advent of information technology (IT) and automation, third world countries are now set to challenge the supremacy of the first world. Internal consultants such as Industrial Engineers are being replaced by many companies with external consultants at a much higher cost. However,

the same IE principles continue to be used involving work-study, time and motion study and value engineering. It is truly old wine in new bottles.

We have to move on with time. Labour incentives will gradually be phased out and future manufacturing will require all three facets viz. skill, discipline and motivation to gain the competitive edge. The emphasis will be to hire those possessing knowledge & skill & those who are able to display competency through bench marking and adapting best practices. The future is indeed bright for those educated in the industrial engineering discipline.

The industrial engineer would need to practice the basic principle of “learning from others” through imbibing/absorbing/assimilation. With the urge to learn emerging new techniques, IE will remain very prevalent in India just as it is in great demand in the USA. The IE curriculum will continually undergo changes by the integration of new concepts and techniques. It will become necessary for IIIE (based in India) to change with time. The organisation will eventually have to ensure that productivity and prosperity are achieved by organizations through effective use of the IE discipline/methodology. The discipline will become very focused as is now being practiced by external consultants the world over.