Durham in North Carolina is a growing city, of jazz, tobacco and civil rights activism. But there on the outskirts of the town is a General Electric (GE) plant making aero engines, each one with more than 10,000 different parts and manufactured to exact specifi cations. There are 200 people who work there, most of them in teams of less than 20 technicians. The teams are self-governing. Different members take the lead for different projects. Their only instructions are the delivery date the
engines are required. Outside the teams, most decisions are taken by plant committees. There are no time clocks, no cleaners (they clean up after themselves) and no lockable boxes for machine tools. There is very little hierarchy, only three pay grades and no middle managers.