Flashback Friday: Stop The Assembly Line
Every Friday I dig into the archives and dust off an old post. If you haven’t read it, it’s new to you!
In his best-selling Creativity, Inc., Ed Catmull, President of Pixar Animation and Disney Animation, takes us through the incredible journey of building the world’s most loved (and most powerful) films. But it wasn’t the “story behind the stories” that most resonated with me. Rather, it was the story of assembly lines, and how reinventing them gave us classics like Toy Story 2. Catmull explains:
The mantra of mass production became: Keep the assembly line going, no matter what, because that was how you kept efficiency up and costs down. Lost time meant lost money. If a particular product in the chain was faulty, you pulled it off immediately, but you always kept the line rolling. To make sure the rest of the products were okay, you relied on quality-control inspectors. Hierarchy prevailed. Only upper managers were given the authority to halt the line.
But then an American statistician working in Japan challenged the status quo. W. Edwards Deming believed there was a better way. He believed that “the responsibility for finding and fixing problems should be assigned to every employee, from the most senior manager to the lowliest person on the production line.”