The anatomy of a plant tour is filled with small and large details, but they all begin in the same place. Every November, the MAPP organization begins planning for the upcoming year with a particular focus on the plant tours. The process begins with three key questions:
- How do we provide value to Members?
- As a national organization, are there geographical areas with which we want to connect?
- Which companies have or are implementing unique processes that are positively impacting culture, operations, sales and marketing, customer relations, etc.?
The answers to these questions have led the MAPP organization to host plant tours all over the United States. At times, the hardest component in planning a plant tour is convincing executives that they have a unique approach to some component of their operation. Companies often conduct business in a certain way simply because it is “how they’ve always done it,” without realizing they are doing something special. However, after some discussion, most companies gain an understanding that their unique approach can benefit the entire MAPP membership. This “ah-ha” moment has been one of the more impactful moments for the hosting company, providing a profound sense of pride and achievement.
Once the plant and theme is determined, then the real work begins to coordinate marketing, hotels, presenters, packets for attendees, food and many other details. Although these aspects are key to the success of the event, the true benefit comes when members engage in the red card/green card exchange. This interaction is the heart of the MAPP plant tours. After hearing presentations from the host company and walking through the plant, attendees gather together to share what they saw and learned. This is facilitated through red and green index cards, upon which members are encouraged to jot down their observations. Green cards equal concepts, processes and ideas that the attendee sees as positive. Red cards equal those concepts, processes and ideas that may be hindering the company’s effectiveness. Through this process, attendees are able to positively reinforce the things the host company does well, while making suggestions as to areas that may need to be evaluated.
Time and time again, the MAPP office hears how host companies have listened to the feedback and then made changes to their operations to increase the strength of the company. At the same time, MAPP’s plant tours provide real-life, practical and hands-on experiences so that each attendee walks away with at least 2-3 ideas they can implement at their own plant. The quest for excellence is a continuous journey and companies who stand out from the pack are constantly seeking to improve.