Fastlane

April 15, 2011

Learning Lessons on the Line

Eve Mayer Orsburn is used to looking at business from the top down. She runs her own company, Social Media Delivered serving B2B, B2C and Nonprofit clients in the US, Canada, UK and Europe. She’s written a book titled, Social Media for the CEO. But, recently she had the chance to change her point of reference when she moved down the line and on to the assembly line.  Eve spent the day learning the nuts and bolts of the automotive business on a simulated assembly line at General MotorsOrion Assembly Plant, home of UAW Local 5960.

She was invited along with a number of journalists to take part in the Simulated Work Environment (SWE) which is one tool used to train workers how to do a job on an auto assembly line.  Eve learned the job is tougher than it looks and the people who do it are special.  She also discovered the importance of teamwork. “These guys have to love each other. They have to work together like a well-oiled machine.”

In the course of her training on the SWE, Eve came to appreciate the relationship between speed and quality and cost. If her team didn’t build enough products on time, they would have to work overtime to hit production targets, which impacts costs.

Eve tweets her experiences as her team learns how to improve

Eve tweets her experiences as her team learns how to improve

Safety is also critical on the assembly line. Trainer John W. Smith told Eve and the other media “workers” that even a dropped nut could be dangerous because a worker can step on it, slide, and be injured.

And she learned about continuous improvement. The teams stopped building, sat down and analyzed how they had done in hitting their safety, quality and production metrics, and they talked about how to improve them. Then they returned to the assembly line and made more vehicles with better quality.  Eve tweeted the entire experience (LinkedInQueen) live with pictures and words to over 42-thousand followers on Twitter.

Eve’s area of expertise is communications and she sees communications as one of the strengths of today’s GM. Her relationship with the company began when she started tweeting about her experiences with GM cars and trucks. That relationship began through James Wood Motors in suburban Dallas, Texas and ultimately led to the GM connection.

Eve the author

Eve the author

She was writing her book on Social Media for the CEO and had included a case study on James Wood Motors. She said, “Fortunately, I was also able to include General Motors as a case study and all the things that GM is doing to reach out to social media and build relationships.”

In June of 2011, Eve’s book Social Media for the CEO will come out with a 2nd edition renamed as The Social Media Business Equation and will be sold not only as a business book but as a text book in many universities.  This means that executives and students worldwide will be learning about how to use emerging media directly from the James Wood Motors and General Motors case studies.

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