John Hunter’s picture

By: John Hunter

I am amazed how difficult it is to convince organizations to adopt quality improvement practices. I look at organizations that I interact with and easily see systemic failures due to faults that can be corrected by adopting management improvement strategies that are decades old. Yet executives resist improving. The desire to retain the comforting embrace of existing practices is amazingly strong.

What usually sells to executives are ideas that require little change in thinking or practice but promise to eliminate current problems. What W. Edwards Deming called “instant pudding” solutions sell well. They are what executives have historically “bought,” and they don’t work. I can’t actually understand how people continue to be sold such magic solutions, but they do.

Manfred Kets de Vries’s picture

By: Manfred Kets de Vries

David was extremely gratified when he was named businessman of the year. He felt he deserved the recognition. Many articles had portrayed him as an entrepreneur who had reframed his industry, which gave him the courage to make his boldest move yet: taking over his largest competitor.

Some analysts had said that he paid far too much for the company. Then bankers became nervous and soon reporters joined in. One wrote: “Not only was his latest takeover a mistake, but his endless side ventures—buying an upscale restaurant in London, sponsoring a football club, financing a private clinic—are too great a drain on the company’s resources.”

The damage was done. David would remain famous for sinking his own company and costing thousands of people their livelihoods.

Steven Brand’s picture

By: Steven Brand

Manufacturing Day, an initiative designed to inspire the next generation of manufacturers, arrives Oct. 4, 2019. The annual MFG Day (which can be held anytime during the month) involves thousands of manufacturers across the country holding events, tours, activities, and more. Last year, in California alone, more than 250 sites registered as event hosts, and more than 330 manufacturers and support organizations participated in or sponsored events throughout the month of October.

Annette Franz’s picture

By: Annette Franz

There’s a lot of bad press out there about journey mapping. And there’s a lot of bad journey mapping (or what people think is journey mapping). A few months ago, I shared my six-step journey mapping process. Remember, journey mapping isn’t just a tool; it’s also a process. Know the tool and create it correctly. Embrace the process because the process is what’s going to ensure you achieve your desired outcomes.

I would call journey mapping the most critical and pivotal component in any customer experience transformation. An in-depth understanding of the experience today—what’s going well and what isn’t—is the only way to really drive change going forward. (You can’t transform something you don’t understand, right?) This is why journey maps and the journey mapping process are often called the backbone of customer experience management.

Caroline Rook’s picture

By: Caroline Rook

Toby Gould was both excited and petrified on the morning of Dec. 12, 2018. He and the three other nonprofessional rowers in his team were due to set off from La Gomera in the Canary Islands in a rowing boat equipped with only as much kit and freeze-dried food as a 29 × 6 ft boat can carry. Ahead of them lay 3,000 miles of ocean before they would reach their finishing point across the Atlantic.

The 39-year-old—who normally works as deputy head of resilience at London Fire Brigade—said: “We are buzzing, we are ready to go; we are not thinking about anything else.” The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge is seen as the world’s toughest row.

The rest of the team consisted of Jeremy Reynolds, 41, a former British Army soldier who now works as London resilience manager at London Fire Brigade; Alison Wannell, 40, the only female crew member and a qualified lawyer; and Justin Coleman, 53, a stand-up comedian. An hour before the race started, Gould posted a video saying: “We had a look at the forecasts. We are looking at three-meter waves from the off this afternoon. That’s scary!”

Donald J. Wheeler’s picture

By: Donald J. Wheeler

During the past three months James Beagle and I presented columns that made extensive use of analysis of means techniques. Since these techniques may be new to some, this column explains when to use each technique and where to find tables of the appropriate scaling factors.

In 1967, Ellis R. Ott published his analysis of means technique (ANOM) for comparing treatment averages with their grand average. This technique is a generalized version of the average and range chart. However, the assumption that allows this generalization also imposes a restriction of where this technique can be used. The generalization allows us to compute limits with a fixed overall alpha level (the user-specified risk of a false alarm). The restriction is that we can only use ANOM for the one-time analysis of a finite amount data (such as occurs in experimental studies).

Harry Hertz’s picture

By: Harry Hertz

This blog, “Blogrige,” is about organizational performance, but first I need to set the stage.

One of the most prized commodities in many organizations, including mine, is space. Space is tight. Organizational (business) units are always looking to keep their current space and grab more space from other units. My organization regularly does space audits and reallocates space as appropriate.

Jose R. Costa’s picture

By: Jose R. Costa

Few people would deny the crucial role agility plays in helping a person succeed in today’s ever-changing business environment. The best leaders read the shifting marketplace and course-correct to help their businesses stay ahead of the curve. Yet while “agility” may be a trendy concept, the key to actually being an agile leader is far less sexy: It’s humility.

A lack of humility makes it difficult for you to correct your course when you are headed down the wrong path. Humble leaders, who prioritize learning and seeking new answers, are more likely to change when they make a mistake. Those who can’t put the right answer ahead of their need to be right are more likely to become stuck in the face of changing circumstances.

Here’s an example.

Many years ago, I worked at a large restaurant chain under a chief marketing officer (CMO) who thought she had all the answers. When someone challenged her, she would scream at him and wouldn’t back down. This created a chaotic atmosphere where people were afraid to bring new ideas, offer opinions, or even talk to her if they didn’t have to.

Jim Benson’s picture

By: Jim Benson

If I have been on a decades-long drive to make work more flexible, Alton Brown has been on a similar one in the kitchen. There is no shortage of rants on his various shows about “unitaskers”... things in your kitchen that can only do one thing and therefore are only useful in a few, often unlikely, contexts.

Alton Brown takes a dim view of unitaskers and lax workplace safety. In agile and lean, and in good business in general, we seek to mimic this flexibility by getting people to experience different projects, job types, and perspectives. This helps us deal with frustrating situations by having many people in the organization who can respond quickly to variation or opportunity.

Having said that, in the great pendulum-swing that is human excitement, we have gone so far the other way that we want everyone to be a generalist and shy away from being purposeful about who is going to do what.

And, in general, it’s helpful to know what we are doing.

Eddie King’s picture

By: Eddie King

The first message sent by Morse code’s dots and dashes across a long distance traveled from Washington, D.C. to Baltimore on Friday, May 24, 1844—175 years ago. It signaled the first time in human history that complex thoughts could be communicated at long distances almost instantaneously. Until then, people had to have face-to-face conversations; send coded messages through drums, smoke signals, and semaphore systems; or read printed words.

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