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Article | November 30, 1996
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A different view on the director of packaging
Compared to most of the comments we received in the research for our Packaging 2000 series Amway Corp. of Ada MI has a markedly different interpretation of the director of packaging's role. In fact the firm recently "interpreted" the position right out of existence. According to Amway's Greg Grochoski senior vice president of research and development the company's concept is to bring a variety of disciplines together in development teams as opposed to emphasizing individual professions like packaging with departments and bureaucracies of their own. The five teams represent each of Amway's five business lines: home care home appliances cosmetics personal care and nutrition and wellness. "When we were a smaller company one of the most critical elements we ran into in the technical community within Amway was the small size of that community" says Grochoski. "But now that we've grown we have the fundamental mass of skills and resources necessary to do all the things we need to do. "So then you begin to run into the next level of issues that might impede progress something that the management gurus have called 'professional partitioning' or the 'over-the-wall' syndrome. It's where formulators live in their own world and throw projects over the wall to the process engineers who live in their own world and throw the project over the wall to the plant and so on." The problem is that all those little worlds don't mesh perfectly and the time and energy spent getting them to mesh can be a drag on company performance says Grochoski. The solution? Build five little worlds so to speak in which all the professional resources needed are fully available. It's not that packaging engineers across business lines are isolated from each other says Grochoski. "They have a certain comaraderie as do the chemical engineers and mechanical engineers and each has plenty of opportunity to relate professionally" he adds. "But their principal relationship is within the context of the business line's projects." In such a structure where there is no packaging department per se there's no director of packaging either says Grochoski. Instituted about 18 months ago the new structure has paid off in quicker completion of projects. "It's something we can measure" says Grochoski. Would he recommend it to other firms? Not necessarily. "There's more than one correct answer" he observes "and the ones that best fit at a given point in time for a given organization may change. It doesn't mean that what we were doing was bad nor does it mean that what we're doing now will be forever. It's an effort to examine our processes and make them the reason we progress not the reason why we don't."
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