Innovative Plastics YP Tour Recap

Innovative Plastics YP Tour Recap

On February 13th, 2020, 30 members of MAPP’s Young Professionals Network came together in Madison, AL for a tour of MAPP Member Innovative Plastics and a day of networking, problem-solving and innovation and change management best practices.

Creating Bonds Ahead of the Event

The networking began the evening before the event at a local restaurant, when the group split up and began to share personal stories. In order to foster thinking based on change management, the YP’s each shared a time when something changed in their life that was out of their control and the impact that had on them as an individual.

From forging unlikely friendships to the loss of a loved one, each story was unique. As a result, participants grew much closer to each other and developed deeper bonds built on empathy and trust. These new bonds carried over into the next day, improving conversations and the overall investment in the event.

Building Houses and Communicating Visions

The morning began with excitement and competition, where the attendees were split into groups and asked to “build the best house” with the materials in front of them. All tables had different materials, which include Legos, Brain Flakes, Play-Doh, and others.

Throughout the competition, the YP’s had to change their houses based on the MAPP staff’s ever-changing definition and qualifications for the “best house”.

By the end of it, the YP’s had their houses built and ready to present. But they all looked different and none of them matched what the MAPP staff wanted. Why? The MAPP staff had intentionally failed to provide a clear vision for the house, as this is one of the central causes of innovation and change failing in organizations. Without a clear vision communicated effectively from the beginning, the project will head in the wrong direction and never have a chance to succeed.

Challenging Pain Points

A major challenge facing Innovative Plastics and the entire MAPP membership is hiring and retaining employees. The young professionals spent nearly an hour brainstorming and documenting ideas that would help overcome this challenge. Ideas varied from employee engagement, where to look for workers, creative benefits, and making employees feel more appreciated overall.

Ideas included:

  • Stay and Exit Interviews
  • Perfect attendance bonuses/extra time off
  • Rotating employees around jobs throughout the day
  • Hand-written thank you notes from leadership team
  • Clearly defined professional development path
  • Advances on employee pay checks using various vendors and apps

Touring Innovative Plastics

The YP’s were led through the Innovative Plastics facility in three groups. Each group saw the full facility: from front office and maintenance to the toolroom and production, getting their questions answered and seeing best practices in mold storage, shipping lanes, sample boards, and organization of the maintenance area.

Throughout the event, attendees closely documented best practices they saw, along with opportunities for improvements.

Best Practices:

  • Using bar codes and RFID tags to store and organize molds
  • Organized, labeled shipping lanes
  • A sample board of parts for customers and quality checks
  • Maintenance area organization using Lean 5S principles

Production Scheduling & Communication

Innovative Plastics’ leaders asked us to pay specific attention to scheduling and communication. The group was able to offer several suggestions for improvement, including:

  • Shift meetings starting each shift
  • Using digital communication tools, such as Asana
  • More visual instructions and schedules
  • Having a central hub of all production information for the next 24 hours

Peers Solving Challenges

It was now time to focus on the attendees’ problems and challenges. The MAPP staff encouraged the YP’s to discuss their challenges using assigned “ideation roles”, such as the journalist to record everything and focus on facts or the Devil’s Advocate to question ideas and point out possible challenges. By switching their roles after each person received feedback and new ideas, the groups were able to offer different perspectives and provide solid, unique solutions.

By the end of the day, every attendee had some ideas and action items to take back to their facility to implement immediately. Some of these takeaways include organization methods for critical areas, improvements to their quoting processes, constructing a sample board on their production floor, and a Kaizen event for the production team.

Special Acknowledgement

MAPP would like to thank Mueller Prost, MBS Advisors, Progressive Components, and IQMS for sponsoring the event! Be sure to check out the YP Events coming up, such as the Polymer Conversions Plant Tour and the Leadership Summit, here: