Dave Coffaro’s picture

By: Dave Coffaro

One of the greatest responsibilities of leadership is driving continual evolution of the organization toward a well-defined future state. Implied in this role is the need to lead change. Easily said, complex in practice.

Navigating change has been prevalent in management literature for decades. Notwithstanding the books, articles, consultants, and experts, change efforts generally produce moderate success at best. Why? In the words of a long-time colleague, “Change would be easy if it didn’t involve people.”

Human beings are wired for free will. Change requires us to alter established, and perhaps comfortable, behavior patterns. With self-imposed change, redesigning our patterns is challenging enough. There can be an additional layer of resistance in an organizational setting, where change is triggered by someone or something outside ourselves, because the motivation stimulating behavioral pattern redefinition is not our own.

The term “reactance” refers to a feeling that our behavioral freedoms or choices are being taken away. As leaders, we must attune to the emotional side of change that takes place within the people being asked to refine their activities.

Calin Moldovean’s picture

By: Calin Moldovean

As today’s industries and operations become increasingly more global, an effective management system is rapidly becoming an essential part of a sustainable business strategy. A management system defines how work is done, the desired results, and the controls imposed to ensure those outcomes.

Your management system certification is more than a manual and more than the certificate on the wall. It’s a critical tool that will help you meet requirements (customer, regulatory, and legal), minimize risks, strengthen your market position, protect your brand, focus on the customer, improve organizational efficiency, and reduce costs. If your certifying body is not helping you continually improve your management system performance, then you should consider transferring your certifications.

Your certified management system should bring continual improvement throughout your organization, including:

1. Stronger leadership

Gleb Tsipursky’s picture

By: Gleb Tsipursky

In the context of our increasingly disrupted, globalizing, and multicultural world, quality leaders greatly appreciate the security and comfort of clear-cut strategic plans for the future. After all, following our in-the-moment intuitions frequently leads to business disasters, and strategic plans help prevent such problems.

Tragically, popular strategic analyses meant to address the weaknesses of human thinking are deeply flawed. They give a false sense of comfort and security to quality professionals who use them, leading them into the exact business disasters that they seek to avoid.

Take one of the most popular of them, the SWOT analysis, where you try to figure out the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats facing your business. SWOT doesn’t account for the dangerous errors of judgement revealed by recent research in behavioral economics and cognitive neuroscience, what scholars call cognitive biases.

Ryan E. Day’s picture

By: Ryan E. Day

With more than 300 employees headquartered in a modern 150,000+ sq ft facility, Plasser American Corp. (PAC) manufactures top-quality, heavy railway construction and maintenance equipment for customers in North America. To stay competitive with international competition, PAC continually looks for ways to improve its processes and best practices.

“We made a goal to drastically reduce welding rework in the assembly area, so that all the welding of individual component parts on our frames would be done in the frame shop during initial welding,” explains Joe Stark vice president of operations and production. “At that time, we were laying out each machine we built by hand using tape measures and soap stones. Our machine-to-machine consistency just wasn’t where it needed to be which meant too much rework having to be done in the main assembly areas. We knew we needed to develop some standardization and best practices to accomplish our goals.”

Challenge

The PAC team assessed the possibility of their engineering department creating models detailing every tab, bracket, plate, etc. The idea was rejected due to the tremendous amount of engineering time that would be necessary to keep the models 100-percent accurate.

Multiple Authors
By: Nadia Naffi, Ann-Louise Davidson, Houda Jawhar

Today, the survival of many organizations depends on their plans to leverage cutting-edge artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to transform their workplaces into augmented environments.

A recent IBM study found that, as a result of AI and intelligent automation, 120 million workers will need to develop new skills or even be transitioned out of companies to different jobs during the next three years. Half of the surveyed organizations had done little to rethink their training strategies to respond to this urgency.

For that digital transformation to happen, organizations must avoid the costly “buy, not build” talent strategy that involves opting for expensive new hires instead of retraining their current employees.

William A. Levinson’s picture

By: William A. Levinson

The Automotive Industry Action Group’s (AIAG’s) and German Association of the Automotive Industry’s (VDA’s) new Failure Mode and Effects Analysis Handbook (AIAG, 2019) offers significant advances over FMEA as practiced 15 or 20 years ago.The publication is definitely worth buying because the new approach includes valuable methodology; this article will cover the most important points and highlights.

New features

The new process is qualitative rather than quantitative, which overcomes a major drawback of the previous approach. The older occurrence ratings were based on the probability of a failure, and the older AIAG manuals even tabulated recommended nonconforming fraction ranges. If, for example, the failure was 50 percent or more likely, the occurrence rating was 10 (worst possible on a 1 to 10 scale), while one or fewer per 1.5 million opportunities earned a rating of 1. These probabilities can be estimated from a process capability study, assuming that one is available; otherwise, one might easily have to guess.

Anne Trafton’s picture

By: Anne Trafton

Having trouble paying attention? MIT neuroscientists may have a solution for you: Turn down your alpha brain waves. In a new study, the researchers found that people can enhance their attention by controlling their own alpha brain waves based on neurofeedback they receive as they perform a particular task.

The study found that when subjects learned to suppress alpha waves in one hemisphere of their parietal cortex, they were able to pay better attention to objects that appeared on the opposite side of their visual field. This is the first time that this cause-and-effect relationship has been seen, and it suggests that it may be possible for people to learn to improve their attention through neurofeedback.

“There’s a lot of interest in using neurofeedback to try to help people with various brain disorders and behavioral problems,” says Robert Desimone, director of MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research. “It’s a completely noninvasive way of controlling and testing the role of different types of brain activity.”

Michael Lueck’s picture

By: Michael Lueck

After the first crash, of Lion Air in Indonesia in October 2018, people blamed poor maintenance and insufficient pilot training. When a second airliner, an Ethiopian Air aircraft, crashed in March 2019, similarities quickly transpired. There was no apparent external influence such as poor weather. Neither was there any interference with the flight decks, as in a hijacking.

In both cases the pilots could not keep the aircraft from nose-diving. Airlines and regulators around the world started grounding the MAX indefinitely. Australia’s Civil Aviation Authority prohibited any B737 MAX aircraft in its airspace, followed by New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority.

Surprisingly, the last authority to clamp down was the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, the governmental body in charge of certifying aircraft.

Multiple Authors
By: Patrick Moorhead, Gabriel Smith

According to the Journal of Consumer Research, a high price indicates either bad value or good quality, whereas a low price indicates either good value or poor quality.

At the heart of this dichotomy is the role that quality plays in both the actual and perceived price of the product. To understand how quality plays a critical role in pricing, one must look at the stakeholders affecting the price in manufacturing.

A proper focus on pricing must take into account customers’ perceived value of the product and what they believe that value is worth, i.e., what they are willing to pay for it. Without this, engineering and marketing team members are left to develop pricing from a bottoms-up, cost-plus approach: How much are the raw materials, cost of assembly, cost of delivery, and so forth? Often, marketing simply tacks on a percentage of profit to the order to establish the price. For them the calculation is simple math that ensures they will hit margin goals. However, they are not the folks in the field convincing customers to buy. Nor is the engineering team listening to customers’ objections or value perceptions. 

Ryan E. Day’s picture

By: Ryan E. Day

“Before I do the things I do, people call them ‘impossible.’ After I’m done, they call them ‘crazy.’ I call them ‘world records.’”
—Jason Caldwell, author of Navigating the Impossible

Books on leadership can be dry or boring. Not so with Navigating the Impossible: Build Extraordinary Teams and Shatter Expectations, by Jason Caldwell (Berrett-Koehler, 2019). Caldwell, a self-proclaimed “professional jock,” is president and owner of Latitude 35 Leadership, which uses experiential training to explore the fine art of leading and maintaining high-performance teams.

Navigating the Impossible is anchored around Caldwell’s record-setting run at rowing across the Atlantic Ocean. Yes, the Atlantic Ocean. Thirty-five days, 14 hours, and three minutes. That’s how long it took Jason Caldwell and the crew of the American Spirit to row 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean during the perilous 2016 Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge—or, as it’s known to those who attempt it, “The World’s Toughest Row.”

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