PPG: Developing a Self-Directed Work Force (A) Harvard Case Solution & Analysis

This case describes an early attempt at implementing the “self-directed work force” Concept (or at least a major step towards it) at the Chehalis plant. This effort was not nearly as successful as later efforts at Berea. While some may focus on technology and Operations as the problem, what other issues might have led to it achieving less success?


There are many other factors that had a negative impact on the company’s success. One of the factors was that the new technology was taking longer time to implement and it was restricting Chehalis’s success. Chehalis Plant could not get the benefits of technology as soon as it was estimated and it also unable to achieve its financial targets. It could not achieve the breakeven point and was incurring losses. In short, Chehalis Plant missed all the projected targets.

Another reason was McGee, who directed his decision to bottom level at Chehalis Plant. He should have identified which decision should be shared and which decision should not be shared. He should have identified to what extent workers should be supported. Salary could be another reason; support workers were paid $8 per day while technicians were paid $9. Job description was almost same for technicians and support worker. It could be the reason for de-motivation among employees. When employees are de-motivated; their performance declines. Technicians were given priority; however, there was just a slight difference between support worker’s skills and technicians’ skills. It was quite difficult to measure the amount of work on individual basis

Another issue was regarding the shifting of role. In self directed work force, there is no one to supervise; however, technicians were at a superior position. Support workers had in their mind that technicians are superior to them. In self directed workforce; recognition and rewards are given on team performance. Attention towards individual efforts was not given. It might be another reason for getting less success as compared to Berea.

Another issue might be the policy setting at Chehalis as limits between two parties were not defined. Management and worker had different opinions. Like in the matter of shifts, workers had totally different views at Berea. Same issues might be faced by Chehalis’s management. When it came to vocation and overtime policy, workers were supposed to follow management’s decision. Workers were not supposed to make choice in others areas. Another issue might be that employees were not interested to participate in peer reviewing.....................................

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