Jim Benson’s picture

By: Jim Benson

Editor’s note: This is episode two in the Respect for People series. Click here for episode one.

When we build any working system, we need to understand and appreciate how people naturally exchange information. They withhold some things, say some other things. Some of this is fear, some is etiquette, some is politeness, some is avoidance. Can we build systems to actually provide people with the information they need and the right triggers for action?

We were working with a startup with about 160 people. They were listing out the areas of their tech platform they wanted to reengineer. We laid out all the work that could be done and evaluated it for impact, effort, cost, and expertise.

We came up with a lot of results.

We came up with a direction.

But something didn’t feel right. So I drew a box and told them team (about 30 people) to put the stickies with the part of the system that scared them the most, made them lay awake at night, or that they knew would explode and bring the whole thing down one day.

The box soon had three stickies.

There was a pause.

People took two stickies out.

Steve Hawk’s default image

By: Steve Hawk

The company Grace Science was born through an inversion of the normal business sequence. Typically, if an entrepreneur launches a startup and it succeeds, the founders will create a nonprofit, declaring, “We want to give back.” In this case, the nonprofit spawned the startup.

The company’s inception accelerated when Matt Wilsey first met with Carolyn Bertozzi in 2015. Bertozzi is the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Chemistry and professor of chemical and systems biology and of radiology (by courtesy) at Stanford University.

Wilsey’s daughter, Grace, has an ultra-rare disorder caused by a mutation in a gene known as NGLY1. Only 54 people in the world have been diagnosed with the disease. In 2014, Wilsey and his wife, Kristen, created a nonprofit, the Grace Science Foundation, in their quest to find a cure. The foundation has raised about $9 million to date.

Larry Emond’s picture

By: Larry Emond

No matter where you’re located, you might think that Schneider Electric is a native company. It’s an easy assumption to make. The €25.7-billion energy, automation, and software solutions company is officially headquartered in France, but its strategy is to localize to the markets it’s in—and it’s in most of them.

Schneider’s localization strategy requires distributed leadership, so the company spreads its top 1,000 leadership roles around the world. Leaders stay in situ for years, which keeps culture universal and decision-making decentralized. This allows for precision responses in differentiated business ecosystems and attracts talent where it lives.

That helps Schneider Electric weather economic storms that drive competitors out of the market, but being the most local of global companies requires leaders who prize diversity and want to become local experts of the whole world—and Schneider’s chief human resources officer (CHRO) Olivier Blum says it’s a strategy that others may have to adopt. As he explains to Gallup’s managing partner Larry Emond in the following conversation, “People don’t want to work in the old model where all decisions have to go back to the global corporate. So localization? Companies really have no other choice.”

Brian Charles’s picture

By: Brian Charles

It’s often difficult to pinpoint the exact moment when things change, but it usually happens faster than one imagines. Old technology gets replaced by new innovations; first by early adopters, and then, suddenly, by everyone. A century ago silent movies reigned, then talkies, and now 3D and virtual reality. What was once a disruptive new technology quickly becomes the norm.

For forward-thinking manufacturers, digital transformation initiatives, and their growing focus on machine health, are fast becoming the norm. I’ll say it out loud: The machine health tipping point is here. It’s no longer possible to avoid putting machine health at the center of your company's digital transformation strategy if you want to succeed through the Foutrth Industrial Revolution.

In the United States, manufacturing is on the rise, with a growth of 3.9 percent in 2019. At the same time, a generational shift is playing in the industrial workforce, as older workers retire and a new generation of manufacturing talent enters the workforce. This generational shift comes with a new mindset, attitude, and eagerness to adopt new technologies that will increase productivity on the shop floor.

Dileep Thatte’s picture

By: Dileep Thatte

According to information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year 48 million people in the United States get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne diseases. That means one in six people in the United States get sick from contaminated food every 12 months. These statistics are important to take note of and address because the U.S. food supply also represents a huge economic asset, contributing almost $1 trillion to the national gross domestic product (GDP) each year.

William A. Levinson’s picture

By: William A. Levinson

How will the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Agreement affect greenhouse gas emissions? Quality Digest editor in chief Dirk Dusharme and Mike Richman, principal at Richman Business Media Consulting, point out that most manufacturers already recognize that waste, including waste of energy as represented by carbon emissions, costs the supply chain money.1 This leads to my conclusion that withdrawal from the agreement will not have any significant effect on U.S. carbon emissions.

Involving relevant interested parties

It is a basic principle of ISO 9001:2015 that organizations must identify the needs and expectations of their relevant interested parties, but not all interested parties are relevant. The Paris Agreement offers little identifiable value to organizations, so it is not a relevant stakeholder. Neither are investment banks that had hoped to profit from cap-and-trade mandates.2 The supply chain should contain nothing that does not deliver value to the other supply chain participants.

Ken Voytek’s picture

By: Ken Voytek

Productivity matters. It matters a lot. Yet it often seems that folks talk about productivity but don’t do anything about it. At least, it feels that way to me when I go outside of the MEP National Network, where we’re always focused on enhancing manufacturing productivity. And you could say that productivity is a personal crusade for me, as is evident in blogs I’ve written during the last few years.

Julie Winkle Giulioni’s picture

By: Julie Winkle Giulioni

It’s the time of year when many leaders find themselves consumed by the business planning process. They scour through historical data, evaluate the current state, scan the environment, forecast the future, identify multiple scenarios that may present themselves, consider alternatives that will drive organizational success, and create actionable strategies and tactics to realize results.

What if leaders brought the same thoughtfulness, rigor, and discipline that’s applied to business planning to individual development planning?

After all, it’s people within an organization who connect with customers and clients day in and day out. It’s people who can surface issues, improvements, and innovations. It’s people who either have or lack the skills to execute on enterprisewide plans. And it’s actually people—and how well they’re developed—who dictate the success of any planning effort.

Boris Liedtke’s picture

By: Boris Liedtke

In May 2019, a California jury found Monsanto’s weed killer, Roundup, to be a “substantial factor” in the cancer suffered by a couple and ordered the U.S. agrochemical company to pay them $2 billion in damages. This was the third and largest verdict against Monsanto, now owned by German pharmaceutical giant Bayer, over its decades-old product.

A judge slashed the award to $86.7 million in July 2019 after Bayer appealed, but it is cold comfort for the company. An estimated 13,400 similar Roundup cancer cases are pending in state and federal courts across the United States. European investors and Bayer’s management are in shock at the size of the settlements.

Kartik Hosanagar’s picture

By: Kartik Hosanagar

Much has been written about the challenges associated with AI-based decisions. Some documented failures include gender and race biases in recruiting and credit approval software; chatbots that turned racist, and driverless cars that fail to recognize stop signs due to adversarial attacks; inaccuracies in predictive models for public health surveillance; and diminished trust because of the difficulty we have interpreting certain machine-learning models.

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