Business Sutra |1.2 | Purpose of a Corporation

business-sutra-1Business Sutra |1| Corporations

In the opening part of the first episode of his TV serial, Business Sutra, Devdutt Pattanaik dwelt upon the subject of the Indian way of doing the business.

In our present post, we will have a detailed look at the second of the three parts of this episode.

Business Sutra |1.2 | Purpose of a Corporation

500 corporations control about seventy percent of world trade and each year approximately 3 million new limited liability companies are registered. The way these corporations are managed can therefore affect the potential for either positive or negative change, depending on the chosen stewardship. The biggest question we face goes to the very core of business: What is the purpose of these corporations?

However, the subject has ever remained any simple either in tone or in its content. Depending on the context, the related discussions have remained as much exhaustive as hotly debated.

The most discussed and debated view – The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits -is attributed to Milton Friedman. The core of of Milton Friedman was: There is one and only one social responsibility of business – to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.

One of the strongest rejoinder, and by now a fairly widely accepted view, is that of Peter Drucker. In his book The Practice of Management, Peter Drucker declares -“The purpose of a company is to create a customer” and “a business….is defined by the want the customer satisfies when he or she buys a product or a service. To satisfy the customer is the mission and purpose of every business.”

purpose-of-business-peter-drucker

The views expressed by our own Gandhiji also echo a similar sentiment.

purpose-of-business-mahatma-gandhi

Let us look at several other points of views so as to gather a wider perspective of the discussion:

In The meaning of Bill Gates has been discussed Bill Gates interpretation of the direction that Microsoft should take up on the basis of what was his understanding the then purpose of the organization.  As with many great innovations, Bill Gates’s vision has come to seem so obvious that it is hard to imagine the world any other way. Yet, early on, he grasped two things that were far from obvious at the time, and he grasped them more clearly and pursued them more fiercely than his rivals did at Commodore, MITS or even Apple.

The first was that computing could be a high-volume, low-margin business. Until Microsoft came along, the big money was in maintaining a select family of very grand mainframes. Gates realised that falling hardware costs, combined with the negligible expense of making extra copies of standard software, would turn the computer business on its head. Personal computers could be “on every desk and in every home”. Profit would come from selling a lot of them cheaply, not servicing a few at a great price. And the company that won a large market share at the start would prevail later on.

Gates also realized that making hardware and writing software could be stronger as separate businesses. Even as firms like Apple clung on to both the computer operating system and the hardware—just as mainframe companies had—Microsoft and Intel, which designed the PC’s microprocessors, blew computing’s business model apart. Hardware and software companies innovated in an ecosystem that the Wintel duopoly tightly controlled and—in spite of the bugs and crashes—used to reap vast economies of scale and profits. When mighty IBM unwittingly granted Microsoft the right to sell its PC operating system to other hardware firms, it did not see that it was creating legions of rivals for itself. Bill Gates did.

Noel Tichy and Ram Charan have unraveled Jack Welsh’s the then interpretation of GE’s purpose and the consequent direction GE ought to chart in Speed, Simplicity, Self-confidence: an interview with Jack Welsh: In 1981, Welch declared that the company would focus its operations on three “strategic circles”—core manufacturing units such as lighting and locomotives, technology-intensive businesses, and services—and that each of its businesses would rank first or second in its global market.

GE’s strategic redirection had essentially taken shape by the end of 1986. By then, Welch has embarked on a more imposing challenge: building a revitalized “human engine” to animate GE’s formidable “business engine.”

His program had two central objectives. First, he championed a company-wide drive to identify and eliminate unproductive work in order to energize GE’s employees. Second, and perhaps of even greater significance, Welch lead a transformation of attitudes at GE—struggling, in his words, to release “emotional energy” at all levels of the organization and encourage creativity and feelings of ownership and self-worth. His ultimate goal was to create an enterprise that can tap the benefits of global scale and diversity without the stifling costs of bureaucratic controls and hierarchical authority and without a managerial focus on personal power and self-perpetuation. This requires a transformation not only of systems and procedures, but also of people themselves.

In an HBR article, Ben W Heineman, Jr. presents Steve Jobs and the Purpose of the Corporation : His deep commitment was to make innovative, robust and beautiful products that delighted customers. There can also be no question that Jobs was not focused on shareholders or taking short-cuts or short-term actions to maximize shareholder value.

In a TED Talk, Profit is not always the point, Harish Manwani while presenting the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, which said, “Our purpose is to make sustainable living commonplace, and we are going to change the lives of one billion people over 2020”, traces his own career of how this was and is being done.

In a paper published in 2011 – The Purpose of the Corporation in Business and Law School Curricula – Darrell West examines law and business school curricula to determine which perspectives are taught in professional education, and student perceptions about business schools based on surveys at leading business programs over the past decade. The paper concludes that having broader conceptions of corporate purpose is necessary to effectively address the ways in which corporations impact life in contemporary society.

Firms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose: Rajendra S. Sisodia, David B. Wolfe, Jagdish N. Sheth, Pearson Education, February 2014, Second Edition : Today’s greatest companies are fueled by passion and purpose, not cash. They earn large profits by helping all their stakeholders thrive: customers, investors, employees, partners, communities, and society. These rare, authentic firms of endearment act in powerfully positive ways that stakeholders recognize, value, admire, and even love. They make the world better by the way they do business-and the world responds. They had created radically new rules:

  • Build a high-performance business on love (It can be done. We’ll prove it.)
  • Help people find the self-actualization they’re so desperately seeking
  • Join capitalism’s radical social transformation—or fall by the wayside
  • Don’t just talk about creating a happy, productive workplace: DO IT!
  • Honor the unspoken emotional contract you share with your stakeholders
  • Create partner relationships that really are mutually beneficial
  • Build a company that communities welcome enthusiastically
  • Help all your stakeholders win, including your investors

Chris MacDonald proposes that it really is foolish to think that the purpose of a corporation is to make money. But that’s only because it’s foolish to think that corporations have purposes at all. That is, it’s foolish to think of a large, multifaceted organization as having a single, unitary “purpose” in the universe, rather than thinking of it as serving many purposes for many interested parties. Arguing over what a corporation is “really for” — building shareholder value? making products to make people happy? Providing jobs? etc. — is a fool’s errand. He poses a question: How you should behave yourself in the course of your job, in pursuit of your goals? This is a question of ethics. And that question is much more enlightening than some grand question about purposes.

The Purpose of the Corporation project has released a video animation to review the purpose of the corporation and the myths of the shareholder value maximisation model. A backgrounder is also available online offering further information and data studies.

The Project launched a global roundtable series on corporate governance that brought together experts from business, academia, regulators and civil society to discuss the future of big business. Events were held in London (September 2015), New York (June 2015), Zurich (October 2015) and Breukelen (The Netherlands – February 2016). Paris (April 2016), Oslo (August 2016). The results of the global roundtable series were presented at a high-level conference in September 2016.

The report is available here: http://www.purposeofcorporation.org/corporate-governance-for-a-changing-world_report.pdf

In his talk, Start With Why, Simon Sinek, consultant and author, explain the emergency for companies and organizations to wonder “why”: why, fundamentally, did they build up themselves, why do they exist and which are the values in which they believe? Each company owns a combination of three strategic components: why they exist (“Why”), how they to business (“How”) and what are its products and services (“What”). The specificity of this mix, if the company succeeds in expressing it, becomes its strength. Companies that understood this approach of leadership are more innovative and more long-lasting than the others.

How to Identify Your Team or Organization’s Purpose – Jesse Lyn Stoner seeks replies to these three questions

  1. What business are you really in? Who are your customers and what do they really need from you? Knowing “what business you’re really in” informs strategic decisions.
  2. What is the real value you offer? How do people benefit from what you offer? How does your service or product benefit society at large?  A significant and valuable purpose inspires commitment and provides meaning to daily activities.
  3. What is the end-result that you offer? Focusing on the end-result you create is engaging and energizing.

The Power of Purpose for Innovation and Transformation – Cheryl J Grise and Vallerie Keller – Successful companies embed purpose at the heart of their strategy. But how do you identify and articulate a company’s purpose? And, having done so, how do you translate it into successful innovation and strategic transformation? This article provides important insight into purpose-led transformation and how it can help build a better working world.

Thus far, we have had representative samples of what the West has to say on the subject of the purpose of the corporation.

Let us now look at what Devdutt Pattanaik has to say in Segment 2: Purpose of a Corporation.

The purpose of the organization can be represented in the form of concept of happiness or LSD.

Here are the key points from his present discourse:

In India the belief is also wealth and not the only wealth. The core question that most of us are faced with in our daily existence is that what is the purpose of a corporation? What is the motivation that should ideally drive a corporation?

Typically it should not be profitability because profitability is also equal to a certain efficient way of running a certain distribution of wealth. The profits can only come if you produce goods and products that consumers wanted, in the best most efficient manner.  Is the profitability the generosity, is it ambition, is it agreed.

lsdThe motivation of corporation is to create happiness. In India currency is of three types and it was represented using the three goddesses – one goddess who is sort of famous for sitting on a lotus everywhere in India, holding an pot overflowing with wealth. Another goddess is famous because she holds a veena in one hand and scriptures in the other hand.  She is he goddess of knowledge. There is a third goddess. She has a trident in her hand.  The first one is called Lakshmi[L], second one is Saraswati [S] and the third one is Durga[D].

One represents material wealth, the second represents the intellectual wealth and the third one is emotional wealth. These are the three things that human beings transact each other.  This also represents material needs, intellectual needs and the emotional needs of a human being. The organizations have to work at all three levels,

The question is of striking a balance somewhere along the line.

If you closely look at the balanced scored, it is about LSD.

“The number of people who are really motivated by money is very small,” Drucker once remarked. “Most people need to feel that they are here for a purpose, and unless an organization can connect to this need to leave something behind that makes this a better world, or at least a different one, it won’t be successful over time.”

Follow Drucker’s lead and change work from being transactional to transformative. Productivity will go up, and so will joy at work. We may call that positive business.

We will take up discussion of Short-term or long-term thinking (professionalism or family business), as presented in the Segment 3 of the first episode of Devdutt Pattanaik’s TV serial Business Sutra in our next episode.

Devdutt Pattanaik’s Business Sutra |1.1 | Is there an Indian way of doing Business

business-sutra-1Business Sutra |1| Corporations

Devdutt Pattanaik opens the discussion in his TV serial Business Sutra by taking up the subject of:

What is the purpose of a corporation? Why does it exist? And is there a difference between corporations in India and those in the West? Wherefrom come these differences?

He goes on to explore the ideas of Happiness as well Strategic versus Tactical thinking. All this discussion leads one to wonder if professionalism is a good thing.

Typically, Devdutt Pattanaik gives no prescription.  He has provided the frameworks; the leader has to take the call.

In our present post, we will have a detailed look at the first of the three parts of this episode.

Business Sutra |1.1 | Is there an Indian way of doing Business

Apparently, since the core of any business activities remains more or less same, the way of doing business must also be the same anywhere. However, as is said in a 2010 HBR article – The India Way of Leading Business – these similarities are “different’ as well. In the same article, K V Kamath is quoted – “Time and again it has been proved that the Western model of doing business would not be a success here.” We “think in English and act in Indian,” is how R. Gopalakrishnan, the executive director of Tata Sons, puts it. “For the Indian manager,” he explained, “his intellectual tradition, his y-axis, is Anglo-American, and his action vector, his x-axis, is in the Indian ethos.”

The authors of this HBR article – Peter Cappelli, Harbir Singh, Jitendra Singh, and Michael Useem – in their book – The India Way: How India’s Top Business Leaders Are Revolutionizing Management – what Indian managers do differently, including: looking beyond stockholders’ interests to public mission and national purpose, drawing on improvisation, adaptation, and resilience to overcome endless hurdles, identifying products and services of compelling value to customers, investing in talent and building a stirring culture. Here are the interviews with Michael Useem and Peter Cappeli on this subject.

In an article – The Indian way of management –  published in Business Today in 2010, Sumant Sinha  notes that it’s a mix of organizational capabilities, management practices, and company culture that sets Indian enterprises apart from firms in other countries.

In an event at the American Enterprise Institute in 2014, Bill Gates speaks on what India does right

Here is one more video clip of Vodafone’s CEO Marten Pieters in a refreshingly honest conversation with ET NOW’s Sonali Krishna about the telecom industry, the plan ahead for Vodafone and why Vodafone doesn’t want to be the number one player in the country just yet, in the context of Indian business model.

This would be true for a business operating in any other country, may be some factor more dominant at one time and the other factor playing up in somewhat differently at other time.

Devdutt Pattanaik traces the roots of these differences in the (known or unknown) influence of the Indian mythology on the Indian psyche in Segment 1: On the Indian versus Western Context.

Here are the key points from his present discourse:

It was East India Company that brought to India the concept of a modern corporation a charter company issuing stock paying dividends and multinational in presence

Indians and Chinese have learned a lot from the West but they don’t have to copy. They cannot create a Chinese or Indian version for Western model.

To understand this, we need to visit the story of Alexander, The Great, when he met a naked ascetic at the bank of Indus. Though the ascetic was apparently doing nothing he did seem to be wise in every respect. Alexander asked the gymnosophist what he was doing nothing sitting over there staring at the Stars. The gymnosophist replied that I am experiencing things. He then asked Alexander as to what he was doing. Alexander said that he was conquering the world. Both laughed at each other. Alexander laughed because he thought the gymnosophist was a fool for doing nothing. The gymnosophist laughed because he thought it’s waste of life to do anything.

If we understand these differences in each other’s point of view, then we can understand the difference between the Indian mindset and the Western mindset

The Indian Way of doing business was not about doing business but using the act of doing business to figure out why you are doing what you’re doing. In the answer to that question there is growth, intellectual growth and emotional growth.

One really needs to understand the purpose of business.

It was this very point that in a 1994 Harvard Business Review article, Peter Drucker argued, “the root cause of nearly every [business] crises is not that things are being done poorly. It is not even that the wrong things are being done. Indeed, in most cases, the right things are being done—but fruitlessly.”

We will take up discussion of Purpose of Business, as presented in the Segment 2 of the first episode of Devdutt Paatanaik’s TV serial Business Sutra  in our next episode.

Is Management Profession is still a practice of science or art?

Recently, I saw the title of David H Freeman’s article – Is Management Still a Science? – published in November- December 1992 issue of HBR. That set bells ringing for me. Well, wasn’t practice of management already established as science in the second half of twentieth century? However, if there still was a question, why?

Let us first briefly look at what the article has to state:

“As every manager knows, new technologies are transforming products, markets, business processes, and entire industries, revolutionizing the business environment. Yet the more technology looms as a factor of competition, the more the emphasis is on the “soft” arts of leadership, change management, and employee motivation.

“On reflection, this paradox isn’t so surprising. The traditional scientific approach to management promised to provide managers with the capacity to analyze, predict, and control the behavior of the complex organizations they led. But the world most managers currently inhabit often appears to be unpredictable, uncertain, and even uncontrollable.

“In the face of this more dynamic and volatile business world, the traditional mechanisms of “scientific management” seem not only less useful but positively counterproductive. And science itself appears less and less relevant to the practical concerns of managers.

“However, the problem may lie less in the shortcomings of a scientific approach to management than in managers’ understanding of science.

“Put simply, while traditional science focused on analysis, prediction, and control, the new science emphasizes chaos and complexity.

“The new rules of complex behavior that cutting-edge scientific research describes have intriguing parallels with the organizational behaviors many companies are trying to encourage. Science, long esteemed by business as a source of technological innovation, may ultimately prove of greatest value to managers as a source for something else: useful new ways of looking at the world.

“The wide-ranging texts reviewed here suggest the broad outlines of what might become the new scientific management. Their message: management may indeed be a science—but not the science that most managers think.

The article, at this stage has delved deep into the four monumental books, which also underline four major trends in the development of management science during the 20th century.

These are:

The Principles of Scientific Management, Frederick Winslow Taylor (New York: Harper, 1911).

Chaos: Making a New Science, James Gleick (New York: Viking, 1987).

Complexity: Life at the Edge of Chaos, M. Mitchell Waldrop (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992).

The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization, Peter M. Senge (New York: Doubleday, 1990)

The article goes on conclude that, “The scientific managers of today must be researchers who study their own organizations. And they must be designers who create the learning processes that make self-organization possible, the processes that are essential to effective performance in a world characterized by perpetual novelty and change.”

That now leads to another article – Is Management Really an Art? by Henry M. Boettinger, in HBR issue of January 1975. The author investigates what he sees as three indispensable aspects of the artistic process—craft, vision, and communication.

The article sums up with these words:

At every level of management, from shop floor to board room, across the spectrum of our institutions, whether government, business, education, armed forces, or the church, we need a rediscovery of the value of the individual imagination and a rekindling of that passion for humane purposes which is the authentic light of leadership. To manage is to lead, and to lead others requires that one enlist the emotions of others to share a vision as their own. If that is not an art, then nothing is.

Dean Stanely F. Teele, the 4th dean of HBS is more categorical in stating that “Management is a mixture of art and science …. The present ratio is about 90% art and 10% science. Though a very great deal of developments are presently increasing that proportion which can properly be called science. I am willing to venture a guess that by the end of another generation the ratio will be 80% art and perhaps 20% science.”

Peter Drucker in his landmark book The Practice of Management notes that “…managing a business must be creative rather than adaptive task. The more a management creates economic conditions or changes them rather than passively adapts to them, the more it manages the business.’  He goes on observe that “the manager is the dynamic, life-giving element in every business.’ Even as he concludes that, “Management can never be an exact science”, he does assert that the work of a manager can be systematically analyzed and classified.

Both these views relate to the mid-twentieth century thinking on the subject.

In the present times, Devdutt Pattanaik looks the whole concept from an Indian mythological point of view. Why we do business impacts how we do it and what ultimately gets done. It is very different from Management Science, taught in business schools around the world, which does not factor in belief, because belief is subjective truth, hence cannot be measured.

Despite the veneer of objectivity, Management Science is rooted in Western belief. Just as ancient Greeks celebrated Elysium, much-cherished heaven of heroes, and the Bible speaks of the Promised Land, ultimate destination of faithful, Management Science is goal-oriented, obsessed with vision, mission, objectives, milestones, and targets.

By contrast, the Indian way of doing business—as apparent in Indian mythology, but no longer seen in practice— accommodates subjectivity and diversity, and offers an inclusive, more empathetic way of achieving success[i]. The Indian approach is not goal-based; it is gaze-based. It does not exclude the Western model; it includes it, with the assertion that the purpose of an organization is to work towards happiness. Great value is placed on the practice of darshan (gaze): how we see the world and our relationship with Lakshmi, goddess of wealth

So Devdutt Pattanaik has developed a 3 B model, which he calls as the Business Sutra, which basically says, as is your belief, so is your behavior, so is your business. This is Business Sutra, a very Indian way of doing business.

3-b-model

To explore the concept in greater details, every first Sunday of the month, starting from February, 2017, we will revisit, Devdutt Pattanaik’s TV serial, Business Sutra, telecast on CNBC in 2010.

[i]  The Indian approach to business: Devdutt Pattanaik at TEDxGateway 2013

Carnival of Quality Management Articles and Blogs – December 2013

Welcome to December 2013 edition of Carnival of Quality Management Articles and Blogs.

For the current edition, we have captured more than the usually presented quantum of information from the selected articles.

We have also experimented with the presentation format. Each of the article title appears with its hyperlink to the original article as a bullet point, followed by key idea of the article. My interventions are in italics in verdana fonts.

Firstly, let us look at ISO’s definition of quality and risk.

– Quality is the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfils requirements (ISO 9001).

– Risk is effect of uncertainty on objectives (ISO 31000).

We even could define an objective as a requirement for a specific characteristic, so as to integrate quality and risk management.
(For more information and study, do visit) Reference

– ICH (2005). Harmonised tripartite guideline quality risk management. Current step 4, 9 November 2005. Website:  http://www.ich.org/fileadmin/Public_Web_Site/ICH_Products/Guidelines/Quality/Q9/Step4/Q9_Guideline.pdf

– Popescu, Maria; Dascslu, Adina (2011). Considerations on Integrating Risk and Quality Management. Annals of “Dunarea de Jos” University of Galati. Years XVII-no 1/2011. Website: http://www.ann.ugal.ro/eco/Doc20011_1/PopescuM_DascaluM.pdf

– Van Nederpelt, Peter (2012). Object-oriented quality and riks management. New York/Alphen aan den Rijn: Lulu Press/Microdata. Website: http://www.oqrm.org/English

One of the marks of great leaders is that they ask great questions.  How did they learn those great questions and where could you learn some to ask?
Five great questionsMike Rother, at University of Michigan, has pulled together a set of five very useful questions that prove remarkably effective at helping organizations improve.  They are:

  1. What is the target condition?
  2. What is the current condition?
  3. What are the obstacles, and which ONE are we working on now?
  4. What is the next step / experiment we can do to deal with that obstacle and what do we expect? And
  5. How soon can we go and see what we have learned from that step?

Transparency is a key factor in sustaining trust in high-performing organizations. And that, in turn, helps drive innovation.

In a recent study at a manufacturing company, for example, my lab found that organizational trust had a positive association with closeness among employees. And we found that those in the top quartile of colleague closeness were 22% better at solving a difficult problem with others. They also enjoyed working on this problem 10% more than those in the lowest quartile of closeness.

The lesson: People innovate better as a group, and when they trust those in the group, creativity emerges. As Peter Drucker wrote, “Teams are based on mutual trust and mutual understanding.”

Fostering such a culture is a great way to help any organization fly high.

For many, quality suggests the superiority of design, materials, or workmanship in a product or service. You may think of high-end brands like Mercedes, Gucci, or even Apple. However, “quality” is vital to every business, even if the target customer is at the low-end or mass market.
Seven principles that provide a foundation for improving the quality:

  1. You can and must manage quality
  2. Processes, not the people, are usually the problem
  3. Find and fix the root cause of the problem.
  4. Quality must be measured
  5. Strive for continuous quality improvement
  6. Every person is responsible for quality
  7. Quality is a long term investment

Have you ever noticed how asking for feedback sometimes invites frivolous, nonsensical, and insignificant information?
A request for feedback is not an envelope that must be filled with something/anything just  to get it off your desk. A request for feedback is:

  • An invitation to engage in an important dialogue… one that you can decline if you’re not available or have nothing to offer.
  • A sacred trust… an opening from someone who values your opinion and is making him/herself vulnerable in the process.
  • A moment in time when you can make a significant difference – to a person, process, or project.

The opportunity to offer feedback in support of others is serious business. So to make sure that your feedback is focused rather than frivolous, ask yourself the following questions.
How hard am I having to work to come up with an answer?
How important is it?
How much am I willing to invest in helping the person address it?
Feedback requests aren’t obligations that require you to go through the motions and check the boxes. They are an honor bestowed upon you by someone who believes that you have something to offer.

We had taken a brief look at World Quality Month in our November 2013 edition. In the present edition we will take a detailed look.

The purpose of World Quality Month is to promote the use of quality tools in businesses and communities. Quality tools, such as flowcharts and checklists, reduce mistakes and help produce superior products. Quality principles could reduce headline-making errors, like food safety, toy recalls, and financial disruptions. World Quality Month calls on people who use quality tools to share their knowledge by submitting their stories to illustrate the value of quality principles. Success Stories is about learning how and sharing your story about the use of quality to make the world more efficient and profitable, whether on job or on or in the community. Knowledge Resources has collected popular videos, research articles and blogs about quality from around the world, to help the spread the word about the quality. Quality Events lists events happening over the world.

The Chartered Quality Institute has presented 10 of the best World Quality Day events.

  • We now take a look at BMJ Quality Blog and recent posts on the blog to capture the opportunity, for a closer look at the way medical fraternity views the quality:
  1. Coordinated Care and a Hundred Reasons to Be Cheerful /
  2. How to run a Quality Improvement Project (whilst working full time as a junior doctor) /
  3. Quality Improvement: Making the leap /
  4. BMJ Quality Improvement Reports: This is just the beginning… /
  5. Compassionate Care – Whose Job is it Anyway?

We would now take up our regular subjects. We begin with a visit to a Quality Institution.

  • The Chartered Quality Institute  is the chartered body for quality management professionals. Established in 1919, it gained a Royal Charter in 2006 and became the CQI shortly afterwards.

The philosophy that came with the new name was simple… ‘through innovation and care we create quality’. This is something that we now base all our activity on and will continue to do so.

The article refers to retirement of Sachin Tendulkar from his last leg of active cricket career.
His greatest legacy lies in the long line of batsmen dedicated to following his example and countless others aspiring to follow in his footsteps.
Coinciding with the anniversary of World Quality Day, when busy minds have a chance to reflect on past achievements and future trends in quality, what better time to reflect on our quality legacy? By “our” I mean not just that of our organisations, but our personal legacy.

We agree(d) that, in the spirit of World Quality Day this year, we would each undertake to make time for the people around us – customers, colleagues, suppliers – and yes, even our families, to better understand problems and perhaps identify some opportunities for innovation and change.

  • Whilst on the subject of expanding the ambit of Quality to every other sphere of our activities, October (2013) Roundup @ A View from the Q, presents a wide spectrum of views by ASQ’s Influential Voices bloggers.

Quality can and should be used outside the traditional manufacturing sector. That’s not news to anyone who works in quality and has seen how the field has expanded beyond its industrial quality control roots. Yet the expansion of quality is not without its challenges or some disagreement as to how quality techniques can be incorporated “outside quality”.

Learn why ISO 9001:2008, one of the world’s best known standards, is being revised. Then hear about the how and why of auditing standards. Plus, tips for auditors to help them prepare. For the full interview with Auditing expert and ASQ fellow Dennis Arter, visit The How and Why of Auditing for the tips and advice for auditors and auditees.

Edwin GarroEdwin Garro is an industrial engineer and entrepreneur from Costa Rica. He is the CEO of PXS Performance Excellence Solutions, the training and consulting firm focused on organizational excellence. He is also involved in several startups. He blogs about all aspects of excellence in Spanish on PXS Global.  Visit Edwin’s Blog ›› PXS Solutions Performance Excellence.

His site contains a page on Resources, covering topics like, INNOVATION | CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT | FINANCIAL ITEMS | OTHER ARTICLES AND LINKS OF INTEREST.

To all the readers of Carnival of Quality Management Articles and Blogs, I wish a great ending of 2013 and a very happy, momentous, “quality” 2014………

Carnival of Quality Management Articles and Blogs – June 2013

Welcome to June 2013 edition of Carnival of Quality Management Articles and Blogs.

We begin our present edition with articles relating to Measurement of Performance.

The first article that we pick up has the message of eternal optimistic realism, so essential a trait that every quality person (or any person with a Quality Attitude) ought to ingrain –

You Will Recover From This. – By Ollin Morales

“To fall into truth, then, the illusion must be torn away from us.

But without the tearing away, without the losing of everything, we can never know that we had everything to begin with. We can never know that it is our spirit that is the core of who we are, and that nothing can ever tarnish it.”

If nothing else: if you just allow yourself to endure the night, this courageous act of resilience will be rewarded with wisdom, strength, and clarity of purpose when the dawn arrives. (A dawn that may arrive, sooner than you think it would.)

The articles that we have in this edition pose interesting questions; provide a fresh insight, and in turn lead our focus to the underlying fundamental issues.

Quantitative Versus Qualitative KPIs By Stacey Barr

The distinction between quantitative and qualitative measures is often misunderstood. Technically, every measure is quantitative.

In the field of statistics, we distinguish variables as qualitative (or attribute) when those variables are not gauging an amount but rather are simply putting things into buckets. Qualitative variables aren’t performance measures. But they are used to help us analyse our measures.

In the field of statistics, we distinguish two types of quantitative variables: continuous and discrete.

Three Rules to Deliver the Best Possible Performance for as Long as Possible

Michael Raynor and Mumtaz Ahmed went looking for those companies that were good enough for long enough to be considered exceptional and to rule out luck as the primary source of their performance. What they found they have presented in The Three Rules: How Exceptional Companies Think.

  1. Better Before Cheaper – Greater non-price value rather than by lower price.
  2. Revenue Before Cost. – Outperforming through higher revenue rather than lower costs.
  3. There Are No Other Rules – Whatever competitive or environmental changes or challenges you might face, do not give up on the first two rules.

The Toughest Things to Measure by Stacey Barr

“‘Employee Morale, Quality of life, strength of customer relationship, business reputation’ are the items found in the list of “the toughest things to measure in business”.
“The problem is not one of measurement, but one of articulation of the results we want to improve or achieve or create. When you can evidence something, you can measure it.”

Separate your charting and data analysis tools from your enterprise tools by Steve Daum

Online debate rages about whether potatoes and onions should be stored together, with the “no” side saying they both give off gases that accelerate spoilage, and the “yes” followers asserting that it makes no difference. Whether you agree or disagree, you can follow the underlying concept: some things do need to be separated in order to perform at their best. (Hence the practice of assigning twins to separate classrooms, perhaps.)

We have an interesting article that looks at Performance Measurement form a fresh, fundamental angle, linking the process to the human angle  –
What happened to belief that safety is “everyone’s responsibility?” – by Jonathan Jacobi

I believe “safety is everyone’s responsibility.”  That being said, I have seen “everyone’s responsibility” become no one’s responsibility when the buck gets passed.  This is exactly why defined accountabilities and measures of effectiveness are required elements of leading program management standards like ANSI Z10 and OHSAS 18001.
With responsibilities clearly identified and properly distributed, we can assure and not just pay lip service to the adage that “safety is everyone’s responsibility.”  What’s more, by measuring and rewarding success based on leading indicators, rather than just pinning prevention failures on scapegoats, we can help to establish a more positive, proactive safety culture.

And Leadership Thought #436 – Are You Aligned With Your Values And Priorities? By E D Robinson, also provides an excellent insight to the subject.

I’ve often heard it said that if you want to know what a person truly values, pay attention to what they do, not what they say.  Actions do speak louder than words.
I encourage you to step back and reflect on where you are at this point in your life.  Are you aligned with your values and priorities?  Are you moving towards or away from the person you truly want to be? It’s never too late to make positive changes.

People or Process? Paul Zak, the director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University and the author of The Moral Molecule.

Peter Drucker (borrowing from Marshall McLuhan) wrote that “neither technology nor people determine the other, but each shapes the other.” My own view is similar—that success stems from having the right people and the right processes in place.

8 “Be-Attitudes” of Holding People Accountable by Robert Whipple

The key to leadership is to create an environment whereby people do the best they can because they want to do it. When employees know it is clearly in their best interest to give their maximum discretionary effort to the organization, managers don’t have to crack the whip as often.  Imagine working in an environment where people do the right things not because they are expected, but because it is in their best interest.  In that atmosphere, holding people accountable would nearly always be a positive occurrence rather than negative. How refreshing!

Motivating people: Getting beyond money

With profitability returning to some geographies and sectors, we see signs that bonuses will be making a comeback: for instance, 28 percent of our survey respondents say that their companies plan to reintroduce financial incentives in the coming year. While such rewards certainly have an important role to play, business leaders would do well to consider the lessons of the crisis and think broadly about the best ways to engage and inspire employees. A talent strategy that emphasizes the frequent use of the right non-financial motivators would benefit most companies in bleak times and fair. By acting now, they could exit the downturn stronger than they entered it.

EVERY COMPANY NEEDS PEOPLE WHO CAN REGULARLY FAILLes Hayman’s Blog
“I find that most companies also tend to reward those who protect the status quo rather than those who want to experiment with change, thereby creating a culture where any failure is a serious career limiter. This will then ensure that people become strongly risk averse and will then only do what has been done before (see “If you always do what you have always done” posted April 29, 2013). Building a culture that is risk averse means that managers will tend to recruit and/or promote only those people that fit the existing mould and who will be unlikely to test the existing boundaries. This protection of “the way we do things around here” will start on day one with the induction of new employees, to put into them the fear of being or thinking differently.”

Even as the title of the article does talk about the Process of Change, the underlying principles are as universal for Measurement of Performance, since change, necessarily, follows the measurement –

Six Simple Questions: A framework for change
In my work with organizations, I’m always trying to find simple questions that generate complex patterns of dialogue and shared learning.

Here are six simple questions to help any organization

1.    How can we best make sense of the challenges we are facing?  (what tools or methods may give us better results)\

2.    How can we best decide on what to do together? (same)

3.    Who can we learn from, and how can we best adapt new knowledge to our own challenges? (same)

4.   How can we best explore promising options and ideas for improvement? (same)

5.    How will we sustain everyone’s commitment to improvement?

6.   How will we assure that we are achieving results that are not only “better, faster, and cheaper,” but also “happier and more satisfying” for our employees, customers, and stakeholders alike?

change happens by denise lee yohn

Joni Doolin of People Report/Black Box Intelligence make an important distinction that clarified the upside of change:  change is passive, but transformation presents an opportunity for you to play an active role and create a better future.
Change is like a high wind on a mountain.  It is unpredictable and inevitable, and often comes on without much warning.  Commitment to a clearly articulated purpose and strong brand stakeholder alignment are like the gear and protection an experienced hiker always has on hand.  So, yes, change happens – but that shouldn’t stop you from summiting the highest of mountains.

Before we turn on other topics, we take look at another timeless classic – “Toyota Way” in Book Review: Toyota Way to Continuous Improvement by  Tim McMahon
Building upon Jeffrey Liker’s international bestselling Toyota Way series of books, The Toyota Way to Continuous Improvement looks critically at lean deployments and identifies the root causes of why most of them fail.
The book is organized into three major sections outlining:

  1. Why it is critical to go beyond implementing lean tools and, instead, build a culture of continuous improvement that connects operational excellence to business strategy
  2. Case studies from seven unique industries written from the perspective of the sensei (teacher) who led the lean transformation
  3. Lessons about transforming your own vision of an ideal organization into reality

And, we have a gem of a communication tip in –

Pause for Effectiveness: 9 Powerful Times to Pause – Karin Hurt
A pause gives you time to think and helps calm the emotions.  Pregnant pauses give birth to vibrant ideas.  

Finally, before we take up two more topic categories as regular features in this Blog Carnival of Quality Management Articles and Blogs, we take look at the article that has acted as catalyst for this action –

Maintaining ‘Continued Relevance’ of QualityAnshuman Tiwari

This month Paul has asked two very fundamental questions. If answered and acted upon, they could change the course of quality. Read his blog here. His questions are:

 What is the most important challenge the quality community faces in ensuring that the value of quality is fully realized for the benefit of society?

 And, what question does the quality community most need answered in order to advance the state of quality practice in the world?

Shri Anshuman Tiwari is one of the leading ASQ Influential Voices. “ASQ’s Influential Voices are quality professionals and online influencers who raise the voice of quality on their personal blogs. Based around the world, the Influential Voices are passionate about improvement and other key issues in the quality community. They represent countries such as India, Ecuador, China, Malaysia, Australia, and the United States, and comprise a wide range of industries.” From the next edition of the Blog Carnival, we shall, briefly, introduce ourselves to, at least, one such professional’s online “influence” contribution(s).

We shall also enlist the videos placed on ASQ TV during the previous period of the blog carnival.

Here are some very interesting videos, to begin with:

Episode 1: The Customer Experience
Episode 2: Culture of Quality
Episode 3: Recalls and Quality
Episode 4: Supply Chains

We shall also make the monthly round up on ASQ our regular feature to end our Blog Carnival edition. For the present we have May Roundup: Deming, Management & More
to accompany our constant companion,

Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog Carnival #194

I eagerly look forward to our exciting Blog Carnival Journey together….

Carnival of Quality Management Articles and Blogs – May 2013

Welcome to May 2013 edition of Carnival of Quality Management Articles and Blogs.

We would continue with our practice of putting across the excerpts from the respective post / article without any editorial intervention, so as to get the intent of the article without any dilution.

Let us open the account with some basics

New Website for The W. Edwards Deming Institute

“Some of my favourite content on the new site include the articles, photos, videos, timeline and short descriptions of some of Dr. Deming’s most famous ideas.”

Having a National Quality Award is Only Part of Sustainable Success

So why aren’t their more repeat winners?  Some theories:

For small businesses – the cost is a barrier though some state programs are starting to overcome this issue.

Changes in leadership – all quality award programs require FULL management support and MBNQA is no exception.  The leader who shepherds the organization to winning the MBNQA often does not stick around for another round.  The question becomes for the new leader, what is the ROI for being an award winner and does it generate significant revenue to continue supporting the program?

Economic Conditions – This theory particularly impact non-profit and governmental winners in that these organizations often are not revenue generators.  Budgetary efficiency is a prime driver and the same management questions above are often asked here as well.

MBNQA as a “bolt-on” – This theory is my pet peeve because we really have not addressed the essence of quality programs.  Quality works best when it involves organizational integration.  Usually, a small group is involved in developing the award packets.  “It’s their job to do MBNQA.”   This leads us down the path of “real” ROI to doing MBNQA and it opens itself up for immediate cuts in poor economic situations.

I would contend that a better guideline for a national quality award should be Deming’s 14 Points rather than the MBNQA criteria.

Quality: Ownership and Getting Better  – @ Tanmay

     Quality you deliver has everything to do with how much you own your work. Your work carries your fingerprints. It tells a story about you.

On a long run, compromising on quality of your work because of the external factors and not growing through your work can be both painful and costly!

A Culture of Quality from ASQ TV

Organizations do not survive on good products and services alone. Brien Palmer, author of Making Change Work, relates the importance of a culture of quality for any organization.

Michelin’s Obsession with Quality – To North American company president, Pete Selleck, manufacturing the ‘Michelin way’ means making quality king.  – Travis Hessman | IndustryWeek

“This is proof that process control in our industry is key,” Selleck said. “We all use the same equipment to make tire, so we know it’s not the equipment that makes the difference. It’s the interface between the equipment, the material and the person—the training and the qualification of the person—that makes the difference.”

“Respect for People” and “The Design of the System”Larry Miller

Michel Baudin, a fellow blogger and author, posted a video link of a panel discussion that included Jeffrey Liker (The Toyota Way, Toyota Leadership) in which British consultant John Seddon makes the comment that “This respect for people stuff is horse shit.” Seddon argues that, what leads to improvement is the system and not an intervention to respect or deal better with the people.

On Michel’s blog there then followed what I think was an interesting exchange on the subject between Michel, Mark Graban and myself.

You can find the entire 45 minute panel discussion here: http://vimeo.com/42297077. It is a worthwhile discussion about lean, standard work and the nature of the system.

Respect for people is the result, not only of personal patterns of communication, but also the result of the nature of the system.

Here are just a few ways you can design into your organization’s system respect for people.

  1. On-Boarding Respect – How you bring people, particularly managers, into your organization can set the pattern for the rest of their career with your company.
  2. Leader Standard Work at Gemba – Leaders at every level should spend some time at the front-line, where the work is done.  If, on the other hand, he is scanning the environment for “how can I help them and what can I learn from them?” he is demonstrating respect. Leader standard work should be reviewed at the next level, and the next.
  3. Design Decision Making for Respect
  4. Encourage Experimentation and Improvement – Most continuous improvement, and it is the intention of the PDCA cycle, is simply to cause people to think and to try some possible improvement. There should be no fear in experimenting and failing. That is inherent in the learning process. If you encourage and reward experimentation, you are demonstrating respect for people.

Committing to a cycle of honest communication – Seth Godin

The inability to say the thing that will make everything better (because of fear of shifting the status quo) is a project killer.

The Best Decision You’ll Make Today: Read This Post

Peter Drucker studied decision-making closely and wrote a lot about it, breaking down the process into a series of seven steps. They include:

  • Determine whether a decision is even necessary.
  • Classify the problem. Is it common or unique?
  • Define the problem. What is this situation really all about?
  • Decide on what is right. That is, make the right kind of compromise.
  • Get others to buy the decision.
  • Convert the decision into action—that is, make it somebody’s work assignment and responsibility.

When it came to helping people see if they’d made wrong decisions, however, Drucker advocated a quite straightforward approach. It’s embodied in the seventh of his seven steps: Test the decision against actual results.

“Systematic decision review” was Drucker’s term for it.  “Checking the results of a decision against its expectation shows executives what their strengths are, where they need to improve and where they lack knowledge or information,” Drucker wrote in a 2004 essay for Harvard Business Review. “It shows them their biases.”

How a Manufacturer Improved Communication in Every Department 

How did Nation Pizza and Foods increase efficiency by more than 10%? Take one 190,000 square foot facility, six high-speed lines, over 600 employees and add downtime into the mix, and you have a recipe for improving efficiency. In this free white paper, get the inside story on what this award-winning food products manufacturer did to slice downtime, speed up response time, enhance safety and improve communication in every department — in and outside the plant.  Click here to download.

And, now, a couple of articles on the timeless subject of Qualities of a Leader:

Do You Have a Bad Boss?

The top ten qualities that make a good boss:

  1. Communicates with their boss.
  2. Prevents problems before they occur.
  3. Matches employee skills to the job.
  4. Deals with bad employees.
  5. Shows respect and values every employee.
  6. Focuses on getting the job done and not the time clock.
  7. Is consistent, predictable, and tells the truth.
  8. Communicates with their employees, often.
  9. Coaches and trains others.
  10. Praises employees and rewards good work.

Ariens: Seven Skills of a Lean Leader .- Jill Jusko | IndustryWeek
Ariens CEO outlines qualities needed to sustain the lean journey

1. Servant Leader – A coach and a player

2. Relentless Change – “The journey never ends, and we must be learning forever,

      3.  The Disciplined Chaos – the ability to recognize where you want to go and remain focused on that goal without letting chaos throw you off.

      4. The Benevolent Dictator – dictates of benevolence

  • Be honest.
  • Be fair.
  • Keep our commitments.
  • Respect the individual.
  • Encourage intellectual curiosity.

     5.  Fearless Anxiety –   See challenges as speed bumps

     6.  Cultural Revolution -Ariens described a company’s core values as its “cement.” The revolution is what “goes on above, and the cement allows that to happen.”

     7.  Confident Humility – knowing we will be OK without being complacent

The journey is the destination. When we realize that, that’s when we know we have arrived.”

On that note, we change tracks to the subject of Continual Improvement:

Not every improvement has to be a breakthrough by JAMIE FLINCHBAUGH

Sometimes the best way to maximize Return on Investment is not to look for the high returns but to look for the low investments. Keep it Simple…well, you know the rest.

Transformational Change vs. Continuous Improvement – Lawrence M. Miller, author of “Getting to Lean – Transformational Change Management”

It may sound like sacrilege to hear someone say that continuous improvement may not always be the right answer. Of course, it is the core process of lean management. But, there are times when more significant and more rapid change is required – sometimes revolution rather than evolution is called for.

 The first thing to understand about transformational change is that the external environment — technology, regulation, competition, the economy — is forcing change upon your organization. Your organization is a sub-system of a larger system, and it must align its systems to the external world. Sometimes that external environment demands rapid change that may be uncomfortable for everyone.

Second thing to know is that every organization is a “whole-system.” Lean management is a whole-system. It is not 5S, teams, or process maps. It is everything from the organizational structure, the information system, the decision-making processes, the human resource systems, etc.

Third thing to know: Sub-systems of the whole must be aligned.

Transformational change is not problem-solving. It is designing the whole-system to meet the needs to customers and the future environment. It is an act of creating something, not fixing something.

Transformational change is a process designed to create significant change in the culture and work processes of an organization and produce significant improvement in performance.

Phil Buckleys article “Why don’t we do the things we know we should do?” was primarily written for the “leadership” audience, but is equally relevant for our discussion on Continual Improvement.

An excerpt:

My default behaviour is to keep working until tasks are completed, even when my resources are low.

It’s time to make a change. Here is my plan for breaking this unproductive habit:

  • Make a list each night of non-work activities I will complete on breaks during the following day (I am a list person)
  • Visually display this list beside my priority activities list (visual reminders are powerful)
  • Review my progress nightly (and make notes as I do after my runs)
  • Ask a friend to check in on my progress (I know I will never have “nothing to report”)
  • Reward the desired behaviour (schedule guilt-free play time to spend with family and friends)

And here is our round up of the current edition:

Management Improvement Blog Carnival #192

Management Improvement Blog Carnival #193

Thanks a lot for visiting this carnival… I look forward seeing you when we are here next month.. till then, I keenly look forward to your feedback………..

Carnival of Quality Management Articles and Blogs – February 2013

Welcome to February 2013 edition of Carnival of Quality Management and Articles Blog Festival.

Quality has any many meanings as the number of contexts and the periods in which it is used. “What is Quality?” – The Best Explanation Ever , while taking a view at definitions in the applicable ISO standards provides a refreshing view while discussing Mitra’s Model (2003), which incorporates the many implied aspects of the ISO 9000 para 3.1.5 definition of quality, which was developed by analyzing the definitions of quality in over 300 journal articles (many from the marketing literature), observes that  there were five stages of the dynamic process of achieving and improving quality:

  • Organizational antecedents – creating an organization whose capabilities can support achieving world-class quality in products and services
  • Operational antecedents – designing quality into products, managing processes to achieve quality
  • Production quality – meeting specifications for features, reliability and performance; adequately addressing aesthetics and customer taste preferences to create demand
  • Customer consequences of quality – whether and how customers perceive quality, and how this impacts retention
  • Market consequences of quality – in terms of market share, as well as the impact of quality and quality improvement on its contribution to profitability and global competitiveness

We also take in a point of view of regulatory angle to Quality Management (System) in Sarbanes-Oxley And ISO 9000. The article discusses in detail normally an underplayed and non-value adding aspect – documentation and its importance. From the legal point of view, however, documentation is a major asset of ISO 9001, providing records and internal controls. For example, a test result is a record. A signature is a control. Quality records define a trail from customer expectations to delivery and all steps in between.

This trail assumes massive importance when customer disappointment goes to court. Indeed, following the collapse of customer confidence in the aftermath of major corporate scandals, the U.S. government has gotten very interested in paper trails and controls. In law, they are not form but substance, and you can go to jail if the trail is not clear. In the past, a company might have to pay a fine for wrongdoing, but under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX), the CEO can go to prison as well.

Fortunately, internet has now many resources that can provide wide ranging options, one such being How to Create a Standard Operating Procedure Template. And this is indeed just one of many and no way, limiting the innovative ability of the implementing team to improvise and improve the documentation without being excessively bureaucratic.

Also, Quality view of managing Quality is, essentially, long term, as emphasized in 14, not 3, is a Magic Number for Dr. Deming and Toyota,  by Mark Graban.

Apart from the perspective of time as a dimension of the decision-making, ability to take decisions in the environment of ambiguity remains a “core challenge”. Leadership Caffeine puts forward 3 Situations to Quality Check Your Gut Instinct : 1. Talent Choices – be deliberate about getting beyond your gut reaction and better understanding the candidate’s behavioral approaches to situations.  2. Strategic Choices – Rethink the external factors prompting the decision-choice, and get help evaluating whether the risks from not moving might just exceed those from stepping down an unfamiliar path. 3. More Time and Money Decisions – Some situations may well merit more time and money, but repeated calls for these precious assets are a sign of trouble.

William Cohen, Ph.D., in an article – Is ignorance the most important aspect of problem solving? –  in his regular column @Process Excellence Network , shares Peter Drucker’s views on the secret of his own success as an outside consultant – for an insider, to maintain objectivity that comes in by looking at the issues from a distance of an outsider – Drucker responded, “I ask the right questions.”

“I never ask these questions or approach these assignments based on my knowledge and experience in these or other industries. It is exactly the opposite. I do not use my knowledge and past experience with the subject at all. I use my ignorance. Ignorance is the most important factor in problem solving.”

Other student hands shot up, but Peter waved them off. “Ignorance is not such a bad thing if one knows how to use it,” he continued, “and all managers must learn how to do this. You must frequently approach problems with your ignorance and not what you think you know from past experience. What you think you know is probably wrong.”

Whilst on the subject of ‘asking’ questions to manage the affairs of the organization effectively and efficiently, we also, fortunately, have  The 10 Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization .”Drucker’s own five questions—What is our mission? Who is our customer? What does the customer value? What are our results? What is our plan?—and what he labeled ‘the theory of the business.’ adding that, to extend the list to 10.” .. thanks to Lafley, the former chief executive of Procter & Gamble, and Martin, the dean of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, – What is our winning aspiration? Where will we play? How will we win? What capabilities must be in place? What management systems are required? When a company can’t seem to get its strategy straight, it’s often because of “a reluctance to make truly hard choices,” Lafley and Martin assert. “It is natural to want to keep options open as long as possible, rather than closing off possibilities by making explicit choices. But it is only through making and acting on choices that you can win. Yes, clear, tough choices force your hand and confine you to a path. But they also free you to focus on what matters.””

Peter Drucker of course was known for his knack of asking the ‘right questions’. Here are Drucker’s Enduring Questions :  The first comes from Jack Bergstrand, of the Drucker Institute’s partner consulting firm Brand Velocity, who asks, “What should we stop doing?” The second comes from Clayton Christensen, of Harvard Business School, who asks, “If we didn’t have an existing business, how could we best build a new one?”

If these questions seem to make the life a bit hazy, we should not hesitate to re-visit the classical models, like Baldrige criteria, for a rigorous evaluation of the outcomes of our decisions. How Does Baldrige Help? – Why does the Baldrige criteria work? These are some really tough questions. Large companies are complex and need someone to show them the inter-connections of the competing causes and effects.  Emphasis on results, alone, “excellence will not be achieved with one part of the organization doing well.”

The 2013-2014 Baldrige Criteria build on the 25-years’ tradition of aiming to empower the organizations “to reach their goals, improve results, and become more competitive”, and “feature a renewed focus on:

  • Innovation management, intelligent risk, and strategic priorities;
  • Social media;
  • Operational effectiveness; and
  • Work systems and core competencies.”

And, the organizations – to remain (always) quantitatively and qualitatively ‘young’ – can certainly draw quite a parallel with the individual human beings – “Laugh Loud and Live Happily; Keep Dreaming”. The maxim we probably know, but presented very differently @ How To Stay Young Forever.

Brian Gast provides another approach to the meaning of work-life balance – remedy that also can help sustained vitality and happiness – in How Executives Can Get a Work-Life Balance . He opens the subject with a question – Have you ever wondered why you keep doing something that you know is bad for you? He goes on to explain that, “the addict lives inside all of us. When it takes over, things get out of balance. You are not alone. We are all addicted to something. ..The addict operates on a core set of mistaken beliefs. These beliefs comprise part of a bubble that encases you. Your entire experience of the world is distorted because you see it all through your bubble. It’s these bubble beliefs that cause you to over-commit, under-delegate, and reach for more and more.”

We also have two articles to help draw our knowledge from the unrelated fields – detective fiction and hard-core espionage operations.

Jennifer Miller’s How To Solve Problems Like Sherlock Holmes lays out how “in exploring the thinking of Sherlock Holmes, and plumbing A Study in Scarlet, The Hound of the Baskervilles, and many other works by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Konnikova has provided a guide for greater self-awareness, stronger memory, better focus, and enhanced creativity.”
And the other one is: Work Like A Spy: An Ex-CIA Officer’s Tips For Business Success by Danielle Sacks, where J C Carleson speaks  to Fast Company about exploiting your competitors, the importance of building intelligence networks, and why you should befriend your company’s security guard.

In concluding this month’s edition, it would be most opportune to record two annual reviews of Management Improvement Carnivals –  2012 Management Improvement Carnival – Part 2 and Annual Management Improvement Blog Review: 2012.

Finally, an oft-quoted Einstein’s insight: “The significant problems that we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.”