“Workgroup” is a generic term used to describe an organization within a company that reports to a single individual. A workgroup may be a small team reporting to lead, or a much larger group reporting to a department manager.
In many traditional companies, workers are organized by function. In a fabrication area, for example, there may be a weld team, a group that runs the presses, and a CNC team. From management perspective, this type of organization can be fairly easy to lead. The skills of the workers are very similar. A leader may even have come up through the ranks and have detailed knowledge of how to do the work they are in charge of.
In a Lean organization, however, the work is often organized by product with a focus on flow. A single workgroup for the Widgetron 2000, for example, may include people from a handful of different disciplines. The leader will have to oversee a team with a much wider variety of skill sets. As a result, the leadership challenge in a Lean organization is typically much greater than it would be in a comparable traditional company.
To manage a cross functional workgroup, leaders need to be far more proactive. They should make sure that all processes are well documented, and they use job rotation to make sure that a variety of people are able to review each of these methods. Leaders will also have to work with their peers to review each other’s operations. Each of them will have a different background. Collaborating can help spread the knowledge.
Finally, a visual workplace is essential. This will include visual controls within the process itself to highlight abnormal conditions. It will also entail posting KPI’s and daily management boards to provide a formal leadership structure.