Moving decision making down the line
A British Steel case study

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Page 3: Improved performance

British Steel 3 Image 3In 1993, the quality of cold mill steel was causing some commercial concerns. Significant increases in surface quality required for steel used in car body panels came from the automotive sector - mainly from Japanese car companies with production units in the UK. At the same time, the Works’ TQP philosophy was taking root and senior management was anxious that the principle of TQP should be reflected within a more participative style of management. Studies also revealed standards had fallen below those of some of British Steel’s main competitors. Many employees believed that the only way to improve quality was to lower the volume of production. They did not realise that both quality and output could be raised simultaneously.

Managers chose to overcome these deficiencies by drastically improving the product quality performance of the mill through the increased personal competence, attitude and involvement of the workforce. Management set out to change attitudes and improve employees’ skills by focusing on three overriding objectives:

  1. to ensure product, process strategy and performance was totally focused on meeting the customers’ definition of quality
  2. to achieve a transformation in the cold mill workforce’s (including management) perception of quality effort on volume
  3. to unleash the full potential of production operatives by providing the necessary culture and skills for a more participative style of decision making within the operation.

British Steel | Moving decision making down the line