All Posts

What's the score of your manufacturing game today?

Imagine that you are watching a basketball game with no scoreboard.

Empty basketball court

  • Which team is winning?
  • Which player has the most points?
  • Which player needs coaching and feedback?

You are probably “watching” this game in your head and making inferences from the few plays that you have seen. But you haven’t seen the whole game, who is to say that these two minutes you have been watching are representative of the entire game?

What if you had to make judgements on the entire season for this team from watching two minutes of today’s game?

In this hypothetical situation, we can see why this is a problem:

  • What if the star player is sick or hurt today?
  • What if the team has played two games already today?
  • What if the team is in foul trouble?


All of these variables change how the game is played right now, but they are unknown to the person who has just started watching the game without a scoreboard.

Basketball wouldn’t be motivating without a scoreboard. This situation happens every day, every month, all the time. No, it doesn’t happen in basketball (maybe if you’re playing pickup), but it does happen in manufacturing.

Manufacturing teams work together to accomplish goals, but where is the real time scoreboard showing them how they are doing? Are they winning today’s game? What are their season stats? Managers can’t be on the floor all the time so they make inferences about the team’s success by observation, but they can only observe for limited amounts of time. Sometimes the managers are in different buildings than the team. Can you imagine coaching a basketball team without being able to see the game? Could you motivate the team if you only saw two plays of last week’s game?

Real-time performance data takes the guesswork out of team motivation.

Individuals can see how they are performing against their peers. Teams can see how successful they are working together and if they should change strategy. Leaders can see how each team is doing comparatively and decide how to allocate additional resources. When the data is collected over time, single moment snapshots don’t bear as much weight and real performance reviews can be conducted with actual data rather than anecdotal data. You know who the top performers are on your team and how to give everyone actionable feedback.

You are closer than you think to motivating your team. Pick what’s most important and start tracking it every day, every hour. You can do it manually via hour-by-hour boards or you can digitize it. Once teams get access to this information, they innovate on the floor and find ways to improve on their own. The culture changes immediately, and your productivity increase will thank you later.



Jennifer Biggs
Jennifer Biggs
Jennfier has a passion for leading and motivating teams through cultural transformations. She believes that people come to work everyday to be great. Through her operational experience at P&G Manufacturing, she has seen the true potential of an engaged and empowered team. She joined Ampogee in 2018 after 7 years of Manufacturing Operations experience. She has an Executive MBA from UNC Chapel Hill and a BS in Chemical Engineering from NC State University.

Related Posts

Re-staffing for growth mindset in a changing world

We are starting to hear the communities think about "opening back up" after the first wave of extreme social distancing comes to a close. Employers have furloughed and laid off staff, and they are already thinking through who would be best to bring back on full time, part time, and who is a permanent departure from the team.

Five tips for leading your manufacturing team through a crisis

As you and your leadership team respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, you can think of this as an opportunity to improve your manufacturing team culture. Take this opportunity to invest in people, and you will have a stronger employee culture on the other side. “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou

Did you win today?

I’m always overwhelmed when I walk in a manufacturing plant and see miles of endless charts on the wall with red and green dots. Individually, I know that chart means something to one or a few people, but collectively my brain is blurred at answering the most basic questions: