Hi Friends,
                                              Even as I launch this today ( my 80th Birthday ), I realize that there is yet so much to say and do.
                                                  There is just no time to look back, no time to wonder,"Will anyone read these pages?"
                                       With regards,
                                       Hemen Parekh
                                       27 June 2013

Wednesday, 4 March 1987

A THANKLESS JOB ?

Synopsis: Communication For Productivity
Letters written to some 7500 Workers / Managers / Union Leaders, following a period of strike / Go slow / Murders (1979 - 1987), at Mumbai factory of Larsen & Toubro Ltd. This direct / open / honest communication led to a remarkable atmosphere of trust between Workers and Management, which, in turn, increased productivity at 3% per year (ave). 

4 Mar. 1987

To:

Dear Colleague


A   THANKLESS   JOB ?

A few days back Mr. K.Chakravarti, Mr. A.M. Deshmukh and myself were literally "gherao"-ed in the reception-hall by a group of Shop-Reps from "C" building.  As we returned from a meeting, they were all waiting and they all seemed very agitated.  One of them had a snack-packet in his hand.

"What Is the problem" ?  I said.
Several voices rang out at the same time.    

-    "Look at this cockroach in Batata Wada."     
-    "Chapatis are so tough you need a hack-saw to cut it."    
-    "Rice is like porridge and smelly."
-    "Why don't you call it Bone-Masala Instead of Mutton-Masala ?"
-    "My Wife would like to learn how to prepare Bhaji - the canteen  style' all water no Bhaji ! "
-    "We don't want to eat in the canteen, give us Dabba-Allowance."        
-    "Canteen supervisors never come-out in the dining hall."       
-    "Supervisors must taste (Inspect) the food when it is ready."   

When the voices stopped, I asked,   

"What do you think is the reason for all these complaints ?"    

Someone said,   
"There is not enough supervision, so service has deteriorated."

Another said,
"Cooking is bad.  Cooks are careless.'"

Third said,
"There Is not enough manpower in the canteen."

Fourth said,
"Quality of raw-material is poor, because we are trying to buy cheap."

I was reminded of the story of seven blindmen and the elephant.  Each had his own, unique way of "seeing" the elephant by touching some part of it, but  nobody could touch the elephant as a "whole".

For the next few minutes, I tried to make them see the whoIe of the elephant - called canteen-  but I don't know whether I succeeded.  But when you finish reading this circular, I am sure at least you would understand.

And since It may sound as though I am trying to defend the canteen operations, let me admit one thing right at the beginning.

Yes, I do believe - and strongly - that there is a lot of scope for improving the canteen services - in the same way that there is a lot of  scope for improving all our operations at Powai !

And I will also admit another thing.

In Improving things at Powai, we need whole-hearted co-operation, dedication, commitment and TEAMWORK of everybody In Powai - from the employees at the lowest rung of' the ladder to the General Managers!

And when It comes to Improving things, what about,

-    The "quality" of our products ?  Is there no  "rejection/rework"     on shop-floors ?

-    The "Timely Deilivery" of our products against promises made to the customers ?

-    The "Cost" at which we produce our products ?  -  Keeping them low so that we can compete in the market and get some orders to keep our machines and manpower busy ?             

-    Our "after-sales-service".

-    and last but not the least, what about our productivity  - in the offices and on the shop-floors ?

I have been talking about these things for many years and you already know my views.  Today, however, we are going to talk about our Canteen:

-    It's volume of services
-    It's resources
-    It's productivit (  Volume of Service  )                    
(       Resources     )
-    It's delivery (timeliness)
-    It's quality    
-    It's Cost      etc.   etc.

Let us begin at the beginning.

A.   VOLUME  OF  SERVICE






Nature of Service
To how many persons
How many times/ day
No.of days/ year
Total "Service-events" / Year
1. Lunch
5150
1
305
15,52,550
2. Tea
6500
1 / 2
253/305
32,40,950
3. Snacks
6500
1/2 
305
21,96,000
4. Trays
200
2
253
1,01,200
5. Coffee
1900
1 / 2
253/305
5,52,100
6. Dinner
750
1
305
2,28,750
7. Lunch-Cottage



2,300
TOTAL



78,73,850


B.   RESOURCES

Manpower
1983 - 84
(Base-Year)
1986 - 87 (Actuals)
lncrease/ Decrease
Sup & Clerical Vendors/Walters
Cooks & Grain Cleaners Sweepers
Casual
39
219
48
22
38
35
210
45
24
12
(-4)
(-9)
(-3)
(+2)
(-26)
Sub-Total
366
326
(-40)
O/T converted to
equivalent Men
59
32
(-27)
GRAND-TOTAL
425
358
(-67)




What happened to Powai Manpower during the same period ?

POWAI MANPOWER


1983 -84 (Average)
1986 -87 (Actuals)
lncrease/ Decrease
- Sup and above
1479
1598
( + 119)
- Daily Rated
3888
3722
( - 166)
- Monthly Rated
1141
1140
( - 1 )
- Trainees
765
556
( - 209)
GRAND - TOTAL
7273
7016
( - 257)
Ratio - Powai Manpower
       Canteen Manpower
17.1
19.6



C.   So what can we conclude from these -figures ? What can we say  about the 
CANTEEN-PRODUCTIVITY ?

From the above figures we see that                

-  Canteen manpower went down  by  15.8%  and canteen   
Productivity went UP by   14.5%!    
(no. of service-events/ canteen employee)

D.   CANTEEN DELIVERY

Yes, of course,we had   a few occasions when tea-service was late by 15-30 minutes or when lunch was not ready.

But how many times In a year ?

What percentage (%) of the total "Service-events" of 78,73,850 during the year ? And how does this "Service-level" compare with the percentage of delayed   deliveries ( of our products) to our customers ?

But whereas acustomer  will fret and fume, he will still wait for for us to deliver his order a day, a week or may be a whole month beyond the promised delivery-date.  At that stage he has very little choice !  But when it comes to Canteen, no one is prepared to accept a  "delayed delivery" !

And remember, - when  It comes to  TEA  & SNACKS, It means -"door-deIivery" for the canteen-vendors .!

During the  last 5 years, we have adde
  
-    EIGHT buildlngs/extensions  (114674 sq.ft)
-    THREE Pantries (1822 kms of service-route p.a.)

D.  CANTEEN QUALITY

When It comes to food, the concept of quality becomes very subjective especially in a place  like Powai where people come to work from all parts of India.

We have

-    "North" Indians
-    "South" Indians
-    "East"  Indians
-    "West"  Indians
-     
and those who like to call themselves    

"Central" Indians.

And all of them like the food cooked by their mothers only !  (not even their wives .!)

And whereas they are quite willing to put-up with whatever food their wives offer for dinner, they are quite critical of the lunch served In the Canteen .!

I would like our employees to appreciate that a Canteen can neither give you home-food  nor it can give you hotel-food .

When you cook food for 5000 people, you Just cannot get the same quality which you get when you cook for 5 persons !  Ask any mother ( or wife).

And please do not hurry to compare with the hotel-food. -If.you were to order the same THALI In a hotel, you would end-up paying between Rs.  10 to Rs. 25/-
Our canteen can give you twice_ as good a quality for half  as much the price !

And In case you are not too keen on such a superior quality, the canteen can offer you-the SAME quallty( as the hotels) for ONE-FOURTH ( 1/4) the price charged by the hotels !!

Any takers ?

That brings us to the question of -


F.  CANTEEN COSTS



1986 -87     Expenditure ( Budgeted)   -    Rs.  307.44 lakhs
1986 - 87    Sales                  (Budgeted )   -    Rs.   35.62 lakhs

Therefore 1986-87       Loss (Subsidy)     -    Rs.  271.82 lakhs

Whereas Expenses have been going-up year—after-year, the  Income (coupon-sale) has remained more-or-less the same ! So no wonder,  LOSSES  have mounted.

Look at the following chart:




And If we cannot get the employees to agree to Increase the selling-prices, what else can we do to reduce the losses ?

Obviously we have to cut Costs.
Which costs can we cut ?


Let us look at the 1986-87 budget :
Material Cost           .................     Rs. 136.28 lakhs
Labour Cost             .................     Rs. 141.92 lakhs
Power/Fuel-Cost    .................     Rs.  11.25 lakhs
Misc.                         .................     Rs.  15.99 lakhs

TOTAL                                 Rs. 307.44 lakhs


We said let us,



Targetted Saving
(Rs in lakhs)
1.
Cut material-cost during 1986-87. We will use less quantity ( a lot of food is wasted) and cheaper varieties.
18.90
2.
Cut down on overtime
9.68
3.
Reduce use of crockery
2.20
4.
Save fuel by Steam Cooking Plant
1.81
5.
Contract Sweeping Activities
1.71

TOTAL
34.30

Against this target, we could achieve onIy Rs. 5.47 lakhs in the first quarter (Oct -Dec 1986).

At this rate, we may' not manage more than Rs. 20.0 lakhs In the whole year!

Reasons for the Shortfall ?

1.   Managers (LR-I) do not like reduction in non-veq. frequency.
2.   Managers and Supervisors (LR-1/LR-2) do not like elimination of Sweet-dishes.
3.   Managers/Supervisors/Workmon (LR-1/LR-2/LR-3) do not like increase      In selling prices !  (1+1 is a different matter when it comes to salary and wages ! )
4.   Canteen .employees do not like loss of O/T earninqs.
5.   Union, LTOSA and Managers do not like to take harsh, unpopular      decisions.




In the meantime, the following Improvements have been made in the Canteen:

-   Absenteeism (excluding PL) brought down from 11.36% in 1985 to 11.02% in     1986 ( reduction of 0. 34%)
-   Absenteeism (including PL) brought down from 18.68% in 1985 to 17.00% in     1986  ( reduction of 1.68%).
O/T brought down from 166772 Hrs/Year ( 1984/05) to 107190 hours     (targetted) In 1986/87.  ( a reduction of 36%)
-   26 Casual labourers eliminated in 1984/85.    
-   Installation of Steam-cooking plant.
-   Installation of Dish-washing machine.    
-   Computerisation of Inventory and Job-costing.

And then there are pIanned Improvements such as,

-    Standard deductions (monthly) for tea/snacks.
-    Mechanisation of "Delivery-Services" to Shop-floors (using a three-wheeler).
-    Mechanisation of the food "Manufacturing and Packing Processes".
-    Introduction of stainless steel plates (In place of crockery) in LR-2.
-    Introduction of pressed stainless steel dishes In LR-I and LR-2 (provided Managers and Supervisors co-operate !).
-    Rationalisation of menu/Variety reduction (provided everybody agrees !).
-    Introduction of Self-service wherever possible.

And all this is possible only through your active  co-operation.  It is never easy to tame a wild elephant !

H. C. PAREKH

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