While she was watching operations at a food processing plant, a consultant noticed a large amount of soup on the floor under a filling machine. An operator washed this soup away each day. When asked about the loss of soup, the production manager replied that no losses occurred. In this manager’s view, no problem existed because the production line operating costs were below budgeted costs. Later, a productivity team analysed the amount of soup wasted over a given time period. The team estimated the cost of the leak to be $750 000 a year. To correct the problem, the plant installed a set of valves costing $50 000. The new valves eliminated the loss of soup. Instead of measuring performance against expected budget levels, managers could compare actual profits to ideal profits that could be earned if operations were to run at their true potential. By focusing on the gap between ideal and actual profits, managers are encouraged to identify lost profit potential and to reconsider critical processes. Once gaps are identified, managers rank them according to their value to the organisation and correct them in priority order. (a) Is it an ethical problem when employees observe inefficiencies in the workplace, such as the loss of soup in this case? Why? (b) Why is it common for employees to do nothing when they observe inefficiencies? Compare the responsibility of operation workers to the responsibility of the operating manager with respect to identifying and correcting inefficiencies. In what ways are the responsibilities the same? In what ways are they different? (c) Is it ethical for employees to ignore inefficiencies? Why? What values did you use to arrive at the conclusion? (d) People do not always seek to achieve their best performance. For example, students sometimes apply minimum effort to achieve a targeted grade. What does it mean for individuals to seek continuous improvement?
While she was watching operations at a food processing plant…
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