The Power of the Chop

chop

The Chop: A Unique Symbol, A Symbol of Uniqueness

One of the more interesting practical learnings from my time working as part of our China team is the significance and power of the Chop. And no, I don’t mean some forehanded karate power punch, or a turkey-shearing Krzyczkowski knife swing. (The 3 Krzyczkowski brothers working at Creation have a fearsome reputation)!

Used for thousands of years in Asia, a Chop is literally a stamp, a mark, a unique signature.

http://www.youtu.be/LVHORoI-hSw?rel=0

In China, Chops are used by individuals as signatures, and also as the official seals of a company or organization. If a letter or document does not have the Chop, it’s not official.

The Chop makes anything (and everything) legitimate. It gives power. Without it, a document – no matter what else is on it – is just a piece of paper.

This is what our company Chop looks like:

creationchop

Doesn’t really look like much to many of us in the West. But to those that understand it, those that know what it stands for, it holds great meaning.

3 Impressions of a Powerful Symbol

So here are a few things I have learned about the power of the Chop.

First, in spite of its simplicity, the Chop is totally unique.

Only the government can issue a Chop to an organization, and it is directly tied to our business license. There is only one like it in the world. Copies and duplicates make the Chop meaningless.

Second, only one person per company, or their designate, can use the Chop.

In Creation’s case this is Charles Ma, our Changzhou-based General Manager. If just anyone could use a company Chop, then partners would lose confidence in its authenticity and it would lose its authority.

Third, our Chop has to be used on any important and/or official documents as a mark of authentication.

The Chop signifies ‘We wrote this’; ‘We certify this’; ‘This is our work’.

If we use the Chop on too many things, we will wear it out (literally and figuratively). If we don’t use it when we should, our work will not be accepted as our own.

What’s Your Own Mark of Excellence? What’s Your Chop?

It strikes me that we should all have a Chop. Something that says ‘I did this’, ‘This is my work’.

We should be proud to put our own Chop on our work – to say this is mine, or ours, and you can count on my work.

This gives power to what we do, creates confidence in those who count on us, and builds a sense of ownership in what we do.

So here’s my question to you. What is your Chop? What marks your work as your own?

Does the way you do something– the way you deliver a product, the way you communicate – mark your work? Does it have a mark of excellence, one that stands out?

All Settled In: Our New Home in Changzhou, China

If you’ve ever moved, you know the planning, pain, and eventual excitement that can come with the experience.

Moving an electronics manufacturing facility—including 150 team members and all the materials and equipment required to make a Creation Business Units tick—is not a whole lot different. Except, perhaps, for packing up the crystal…

Our Beautiful New Manufacturing Facility

On June 25, our Changzhou team opened the doors and started building and shipping product out of our new home.

It’s a beautiful facility that’s tailored for electronics manufacturing—a marked improvement from the building we have been in for the past six years.

With 75,000 square feet on two floors, lots of natural bright light, and a much better layout, we have both the room to grow and the environment we need to help us take the next step.

Creation—Changzhou, Our New Facility
Creation—Changzhou, Our Brand New Facility

Ahead of Schedule & Under Budget

As with all things, the experience was not without challenges.

Renovations in the new building started six weeks late due to contract delays with the landlord.

A new tenant was already scheduled to move into the existing building, and there was a good chance the electricity would be shut off if we delayed. The move had to proceed as scheduled.

The timeline was seriously cramped and totally inflexible. The team in Changzhou had just six weeks to turn a concrete shell into a modern facility for electronics manufacturing plus one more week to move—with no margin for error.

And you know what? The team pulled it off.

In fact, we were up and running one week ahead of schedule without any shipment delays, and, (don’t tell Arthur), under budget to boot.

With a lot of hard work, tense moments and persistence, production restarted just seven weeks after the first hammer was swung.

We went from this:

Empty Shell of Office Area
Empty Shell of Office Area
Manufacturing Area Before Changzhou
Definitely a ‘Work In Process’ environment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To this, in 35 days:

Sparkling Manufacturing Creation Changzhou
Our now-sparkling manufacturing space in Creation’s new Changzhou facility
Beautiful Office Space Changzhou
Our open office area for co-located Customer-Focused Teams in Creation’s new Changzhou facility

 

3 Key Things This Process Has Taught Me

As a foreigner and an observer for most of the construction and moving activity, there were a number of key learnings:

#1: Strong Focus Leads to Great Power

The team had no options to stay in the current building. We had to be in the new facility, no matter what, and no matter how, by July 1.

The objective, the required actions, and the consequences were crystal clear.

The team was focused, which resulted in very little time and energy being wasted, and so they moved with power.

 

#2: Speed Comes from Commitment

We had to move fast.

And that meant our contractors and trades teams had to move fast.

And they did. Do you know how?

They moved in. I mean they literally moved their tools, and beds, and tents into the factory so they could work around the clock. They committed. And things moved quickly.

 

#3: It’s the Middle that Matters

We spent almost a year planning the renovation and move and had a relatively strong picture of what we wanted to achieve, what it would take and what it would cost.

The end result is even better than we had hoped.

But without all the sweat, the late nights, the very hard work from a lot of focused people, the planning would not have mattered, and the result would not have been realized.

It was the middle that mattered—the focus, the execution and the push until completion.

 

A lot of people were involved in making this all happen – too many to mention. But four need special recognition:

In addition to his Process Engineering responsibilities, Kevin Ye managed the project with a lot of tenacity and ensured the contractors did what they said they would do.

Tony Ji, our Operations Leader extraordinaire, made sure the move plans were all in place and that not a single product shipment was late.

As he always does, Mike Serio, our Engineering Leader, helped ensure that when the power got turned on, the “stuff” worked.

And my partner in China, our General Manager Charles Ma, kept the whole thing together.

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