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Food for Thought – Team Tools at Quaker Oats - page 2 / 3





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Standalone Quaker success v3.1 rev 8/31/04p. 2

2) The plant had an Important Target – survival – that couldn't be reached unless they let go of established ways and radically embraced change.

3) Union and management leaders had the Influence to bring other groups – such as the engineering, materials, purchasing and quality organizations -- to support the change.

Seeing the Future

A caravan of selected Quaker Oats’ personnel, including Union leaders and appointed representatives, drove to visit an established work-transformation site. There they saw a high-performance culture at work with mature, productive work teams. They noted the high ratio of production associates to supervisors, actively engaged teams, and committed union leaders. They realized they all wanted this kind of success.

That meant transforming their plant culture from a traditional management-down system to one of ownership at all levels. The Danville plant made a commitment to develop and adapt to high-performance teams.


Team Formation:  

Teams consisting of union leaders, executive board members, and appointed leaders guided the transformation to a commitment paradigm. The plant management empowered experienced floor workers to take responsibility, make decisions and solve problems themselves. High performance teams are able to react, correct and improve processes far faster than tightly controlled groups.


LightSpeed's Team Tools training helped the new leaders and team members understand, anticipate and head off problems. Team Tools Interactive, the network enabled version of Team Tools training, allowed all workers, regardless of shifts and time commitments, to experience consistent team training. Through LightSpeed training and orientation, the Danville plant's workers realized their role as "business partners" to their suppliers and customers.


Throughout the transformation, Quaker Oats management reaffirmed its commitment to high performance work groups. They carefully put procedures in place to support the effort. As the teams grew in maturity, boundaries had to be redefined, new employees brought up to speed, and team responsibilities expanded. Team Tools skills training was instrumental in maintaining team growth and expanding performance improvements.

What happened next?

The rewards for commitment and courage can be massive. The Danville plant was voted one of Industry Week’s "Top Ten Plants in America." They were the first winners of the state of Illinois' "On the Road to High Performance," award, which signified

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