Herman Miller office furniture manufacturer has continued to reinvent and renew itself despite the challenges it has gone through. One of the key reasons why the company has survived all these challenges is their belief that there is always room for improvement no matter the situation. In most of their operations they seem to be applying Kaizen theory: continuous improvement. Through the application of this theory, they are in a position to identify ongoing, uninterrupted incremental changes (Suárez-Barraza et al., 2012). For instance, their commitment to this theory can be explained by how they devoted ten million dollars for research and development during the dotcom downturn, for the sake of the company improvement and a better tomorrow. Kaizen theory has a positive impact on Herman Miller because it has encouraged the following virtues in this company: teamwork, increment and ever-evolving change, ongoing improvement of results, experimentation with an aim of finding better ways, comparison to baseline accomplishments, business process mastery, and standardization (PBT Consulting, 2012).
Since employees are the most important assets of this company, it has implemented the Kaizen theory through sharing its gains and pain with them. It has an influence in every aspect of their lives so that it can sustain a strong relationship with them as well as improving its operational output. Employees are offered a lot of benefits which have a direct impact on continued improvement in working life, social life, home life and personal life. Examples of benefits offered to Herman miller employees include profit sharing, Employee Stock Purchase Plan (ESPP), retirement income plan among others.
The company does not just make radical changes rather its processes evolve gradually. For instance, if they decide to develop a new type of furniture, they do it gradually until they achieve the required results. It does not matter how many people will be required in the process, but their main goal is normally to achieve good results. They generally base their improvements on quantitative/statistical evaluation of process performance. Through this they usually achieve the best results and that is why their products have being winning awards as well as being reserved in the museums. Quality is what they seem to believe in.
One of the reasons why they have developed a strong Kaizen approach is the support offered throughout the entire structure of the organization (SkyMark Corporation, 2012). They work as a team and every member idea is valued. It does not matter the position you hold in employment status, but what matters is your contribution to betterment of the company. Managers and other junior employees borrow ideas from each other and through this collaboration; they build a strong team which can achieve anything aimed at. Employees’ participation in every aspect is valued a lot in Herman Miller since they are the ones involved in the manufacturing process, thus contributing to constant improvement of the way of work and in the products.
There are many factors which influence the operations of Herman Miller either positively or negatively. For instance, telecommuting, high cost of raw materials, and competition all contribute negatively to the operations of this company. However, they are other factors which contribute positively like the increase need for ergonomically correct office furniture for employees that spend a lot time in front of computer screens.
Despite these challenges and others presenting themselves as technology advances, this company has to devise ways of surviving. It has done it for many years and I believe it can survive any challenge with the support and confidence it has gained from its employees. In order to fight any new challenge, the company is always committed to develop new products and develop its market. It also keeps investing for the future so that it is not overcome by any challenge. Innovation-risk-taking is another approach which will keep Herman Miller going no matter what the situation. They always conduct a lot of research in their innovation strategies without minding the risks involved (Herman Miller, Inc., 2012). This will keep the company reinvent and renewing itself. In making their long and short term decisions that affect their growth, they use a performance indicator they call Economic Value Added (EVA). Through this indicator they are able to long-term continuous improvements as well as the creation of economic value (Herman Miller, Inc., 2012). The EVA will keep the company aggressive for a long period.