Reaction Paper #1
R.L. Wolfe: Implementing Self-Directed Teams
1. Why does Amasi decide to use this work system at the new Corpus Christi plant? How would you characterize Amasi?
John Amasi’s decision to implement Self Directed Teams (SDTs) at R.L. Wolfe stemmed from an overarching objective to increase plant productivity. As Director of Production and Engineering, Amasi was aware that his company’s manufacturing facilities were running at only 65-70% of their design capacities, and he optimistically believed that SDTs could raise this figure to 95%. He had first been exposed to the concept of SDTs and the benefits they provided to organizations many years ago while taking a business school course on workforce motivation and team structures. Compelling data revealed that many industries enjoyed productivity boosts due to SDT work systems, and Amasi felt they could be applied to plastic pipe manufacturing as well. It wasn’t until 2003, however, that Amasi recognized that the Corpus Christi plant provided the right environment for such a radical overhaul. From a strategic perspective, Amasi’s decision aimed at improving organizational effectiveness by reducing bureaucracy. The case author coined this reduction “flattening,” as the hierarchical chain of command was stripped down to a simplified, more even playing field. Subsequently, authoritative decision making power took place via active horizontal participation, rather than through directive channels from above. (The flattening process is visually presented in Exhibits 2, 3, and 4). It is possible that cutting management costs and freeing up management resources played a role in the decision, but the main impetus for Amasi’s change was to motivate employees by giving them more autonomy and responsibility in their careers. His philosophy maintained that granting employees more authority and creating new forms of job enrichment encouraged them to be more committed and results driven. As we have learned in...