Due to the slower growth in TV in the 1969-1972 periods coincided with reduced profitability in other consumer products as cists for labor and basic materials escalated sharply. These developments resulted in weaker corporate financial performance and prompted a reevaluation of the company's basic direction. These deliberations created a reemphasis of the technical competence of the company in new product development and a focus on process excellence and productivity. A major step in the new approach to operations and production was the establishment of M&E at the corporate level. These reorganization brought together staff specialists in processes, systems, and equipment under the direction of Leibson, who was promoted from director of manufacturing at the TV Division to a corporate vice president.
The M&E group participated in the transfer of products from R&D to production. After laboratory development and prototype testing, new products were assigned to an M&E products team that designed any new equipment required, and engineered and implemented the new process.
In many respects, M&E product teams served as mediators and translators, their primary task was to establish credibility with the R&D group and with the manufacturing people in the operating division.
In July 1977, the yields and productivity of the Z-Glass process began a long decline, and the entire plant organization was working overtime trying to correct the problem. In December 1977, a team of engineers from the corporate manufacturing and engineering (M&E) staff were assigned to the plant; the group's charter was to focus on long-term process improvement while the line organization concentrated on day-to-day operations.
Eric Davidson was assigned to be the leader of the M&E project team at Harrisburg. He found that project had not gone well, and he knew that his team members were discouraged. The technical problems they faced were difficult...