TeamFlow User Profile

Ford Motor Company Plant Vehicle Teams

"The remote teams needed a central common process.
We utilized TeamFlow, and expected compliance.
We got something a whole lot better - we got understanding!"

Ford Motor Company's Plant Vehicle Teams are responsible for improvement of product quality and cost performance in Ford's assembly plants around the world. PVT's are the cross-functional teams which work within the plants to improve Ford's vehicles for the customers.

Recently, Ford Motor Company shifted their current model engineering from a centralized structure focused on their Dearborn, Michigan World Headquarters to a dispersed structure that could respond faster to customer needs at each plant. Plant Vehicle Teams (PVTs) were created in the lead Ford plants around the globe. PVT Support was challenged to provide Best Practices to the dispersed teams. Designing the Best Practices among dispersed groups is an important strategy at Ford Motor Company.

Consultants from McComb, Inc. were employed to facilitate Best Practice development teams at Ford's PVT Support's team facility. MCComb, Inc. embraced TeamFlow as the appropriate graphics tool to speed the work of the development teams. The Best Practices were developed as a team effort; with TeamFlow projected on the large screen for ALL to see and reach consensus around. Each Best Practice development team member walked away from the meetings with the updated version of the Best Practice; no need for separate meeting minutes to be developed and published later. This was a real efficient method of achieving agreement among team members!

Ford's PVT Support Manager Jon Vachow says, "Deployment flowcharting has been used by us over the past few years, as the best method to quickly move teams through the development and optimization of their business practices. Prior to TeamFlow, we were using a well-known graphics package, and created deployment flowcharts from scratch. Needless to say, we were delighted when TeamFlow emerged. The early versions of TeamFlow software incorporated much of what we were trying to do with graphics packages; and, was much more user-friendly. This enabled deployment flowcharting by team members who were graphically-challenged, and we no longer needed to rely on the scarce graphics talent."

"This gave Ford the best of both worlds," Vachow commented. "During TeamFlow's emergence as a mainstream business tool, CFM Inc. incorporated of some of our wants into the new releases. This provided added value, and caused our Best Practices development teams to speed more quickly toward completion."

Once completed, the Best Practices were placed on the Plant Vehicle Teams' intranet Web Site. The teams and their home base organizations were given time to comment, prior to final best practice sign-off, to assure a more wide-spread consensus among activities. Fully authorized Best Practices were then placed in the Best Practice section of the Web Site, where full implementation by the remote teams could commence (for full compliance, or for slight modification due to local environments.) Another business partner, Information Systems Technologies, Inc. assisted Ford throughout in the Web Site development. Feedback from the remote teams is encouraged and expected.

Vachow noted how TeamFlow has changed the way people think:

For the Best Practice development teams:
TeamFlow caused the team to think through WHO needed to perform the task being discussed, and WHO needed to decide, and WHO did WHAT next. The WHO is key. The teams didn't like that, at first. We had feedback like: "I hate TeamFlow! It forces us to determine WHO does the process step, and WHEN. Then, in the same breath, they would say, "Wait a minute...That's also why we like it so much!" Another key aspect of that deployment flowchart method is that is was GRAPHIC...not just text.

For the Remote Teams:
TeamFlow caused the far end teams to carefully review their work practices and to compare the web-published Best Practices against their local needs.

For the central PVT Support activity:
Familiarity with TeamFlow concepts of WHO, WHAT, and WHEN provided added value (and focus) to discussions when the remote PVT team leaders met with their business partners face-to-face. Likewise, the remote leaders, who were from different cultures, different languages, different linguistics...could actually hold meaningful discussion amongst themselves regarding the central common processes!

Ford got more than they expected in developing Best Practices with TeamFlow. "The goal of the Best Practices project was to force the remote teams to perform their primary business practices in a COMMON manner," Vachow explained. "We expected COMPLIANCE from the remote teams. We didn't get that...After all, how could we? We did not understand completely the remote team environments. What we did get was something a whole lot better - We got UNDERSTANDING! The remote team leaders were more knowledgeable of their own environment, and could best put into place the central process, or slight deviations to it."

TeamFlow has created a positive change in the Plant Vehicle Team work culture at Ford Motor Company. Vachow describes it this way: "The cultural change is evident in the speech of others...The questions asked by remote teams are sprinkled with 'WHO will do this work?'...and, 'WHEN must the work process task be accomplished?'...and, 'WHO will decide task outcomes'...etc. This in turn encourages management to provide improved direction and to produce better statements of desired outcome."

Ford Motor Company is pleased with the success of their Plant Vehicle Teams. Vachow explained, "We don't know if the presence of TeamFlow in our work methods caused a direct correlation with the established success of the remote PVT's - But, we DO know that it facilitated us to get the PVT teams up and running with central common process much sooner than expected so the process returned benefits much sooner!"

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 Last Update: November 4, 2009