In this series our CEO, Gord Griffiths, reflects on lessons learned throughout his years in the printing industry.

People are a hidden asset.

I was taught this lesson when I started going to the person doing the job to get the facts. As business leaders, you have smart, involved, and committed employees so if you want to improve manufacturing performance go to the person doing the job and discount your colleagues’ opinion.

Often I have been part of late-night management meetings looking for ways to improve performance. We would sit around the table and decide what the targets should be and listen to someone say things like, “The salesperson who sold us the stitcher said it would run at 18,000 an hour.” What we didn’t know was that was without a signature loaded in the hopper. Usually, the management team would guess lower than the person doing the job, but often found a simple correction could improve performance.

When we printed business publications for our parent company, we always seemed to print dark appointment notices. At our weekly meeting it always came up with no solution. After one meeting at the plant, one publisher asked if we had time for a tour. Off we went and as chance would have it, we ran into the camera operator and mentioned the unresolved issue of dark pictures. These were the days of art boards using photo mechanical transfers (PMTs) and the customer was suppling a 133 line screen. The camera operator said we have a print gain on our press so sending a 85 line screen would fix the problem. And it did.

After many years in this business, I found out, sometimes the hard way, that the people working for you often know more than you and are just as smart, if not smarter.

By Gord Griffiths