How Jaguar Changed Its Culture from Traditional to Flexible

To stay competitive, it’s not enough to update your company’s methods—you may need to implement a full cultural change. In the early 2000's, Jaguar (recently acquired by Ford) realized the car industry was changing from a simple, standardized model to a more complex one. The employees at the Halewood plant were used to producing Ford Escorts with traditional manufacturing techniques, but the company needed a workplace that was empowered and able to adapt to changes. Three tactics helped them disrupt their culture:

  1. Encourage people to work together. In the old auto industry model, workers were expected to be showed exactly what to do, and they’d do that one task over and over. In order to increase efficiency for the long-term, Jaguar assigned their employees to “take ownership” of their tasks. Taking ownership meant continuously suggesting improvements to methods of working, trashing techniques that detracted value to the organization, and proposing processes that improved production. The new lean production system would take place in small teams with a single leader. 
  2. Align on vision. In order to make sure everyone was on board with Jaguar’s new vision, Jaguar created a clear vision statement. The document included notes on quality, a focus on the customer, employee accountability and responsibility, respect, open communication, teamwork, and adaptability and flexibility. With their vision clearly drawn out, it allowed for a more open exchange of ideas between lower- and upper-level employees. 
  3. Introduce change slowly and involve everyone. Jaguar knew that nothing would change if the most important catalyst to change–employees–weren’t open and prepared. In order to make changes with employees’ best interest in mind, Jaguar conducted interviews and led focus group to get everyone’s perspective. They also led workshops and trainings to transition everyone to new roles and responsibilities. 

Takeaway: When you want to make a major change, it’s essential to get buy-in and make sure everyone’s aligned. And remember, change is a marathon, not a sprint.

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