Thursday, April 27, 2006

View on Wall Street Journal Operations

A major project for the Wall Street Journal Europe. Tonight we will insert a brand new magazine "Style Journal" (featuring Ralph Fiennes on the cover) in the Wall Street Journal Europe circulation. For months the Distribution Operations team is preparing the insert of this glossy 190 grams magazine in a 56 page newspaper in 9 printplants destined to go to 75 countries. All teammembers are spread over Europe to follow up in the respective mailrooms. Surprisingly we noticed that laborers, the people that actually do the work in the printplants at night (packing, polywrapping, cutting, folding, glueing, inserting, counting,...) took the initiative in 3 printplants to organize testruns without being ordered to do so by their uppermanagement or by us, the client. In Brussels for example they tested three nights in a row to adjust their machines after the normal production of their newspapers. Something quite out of the ordinary in a very unionized environment especially because there was no order from "upperhand" to do so. It is an interesting exercise to try to find out what drives laborers to take initiative, to excel, to step outside their normal routine. It is as if there is a virtual nightly competition between the laborers of our printplants in Europe (impossible in reality because we work with independent printplants, there is surely no contact whatsoever between the employees of the resp plants).