High quality innovations. Oxymoron?

dilbert_startup_innovationThinking about innovation and quality management may lead us to contradictions. Preparing to this article I have found number of empirical case studies that  describe the relationship between quality management practices and innovation performance. One of such may be found here.

[…] several scholars reject the positive relationship between TQM and innovation for the reason that it possesses principles and practices that could hinder innovation. Slater and Narver (1998) and Wind and Mahajan (1997) agree that a customer focus philosophy could easily lead organizations to focus only on incremental improvements in their current products and service activities rather than trying to create novel solutions. Consequently, this leads to the development of uncompetitive “me-too” products rather than the development of real innovation. Customer focus, therefore, could build a “tyranny of the served market” in which managers see the world only through their current customers’ eyes. In this way, such firms could fail to explore customers’ latent needs.

Authors convince that quality management practices may positively influence innovations by creating a safe environment for them.

Combining the two sections of the above analysis provides a plausible evidence and explanation on the positive and significant relationship between TQM practices and innovation performance because not only TQM itself would lead to innovation performance, but the quality performance resulting from TQM practices also contributes to innovation performance. […] This means that although quality management does not directly result in innovation, organizations that want to pursue a high innovation performance must have the capability to manage quality requirements of their products before hand, as asserted by Bolwijn and Kumpe (1990) and Ferdows and DeMeyer (1990). In other words, quality management is a prerequisite for innovation management, and, therefore, TQMis necessary although not sufficient for innovation

How it looks like from employee’s perspective? As an engineer I like discoveries, experiments and innovations. I realize that my interests may lead me to failures. In most cases unacceptable in a corporate environment.  It is a difficult task to be innovative and reliable in the same time. It is difficult to be innovative inside the well-working factory. Where is the golden mean between standardization and innovations?

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Deadline is coming….

dilbert2Do you ever wonder what gives you energy to work? Last time I thought about different ways of motivating people.

One way is declaring a deadline. Unfortunately, not in my case… I don’t need deadlines to be disciplined. To be disciplined… that’s the goal, isn’t it?

One may say that tight deadline is the most effective. It is a challenge, isn’t it? In my opinion tight deadline may be a challenge when we talking about reducing a working time on specified task permanently. Unfortunately, in most cases tight deadline is set because someone is in a hurry. Then, we sacrifice a quality…. then we have even more problems.

So what motivates me? I like to feel a sense of my work regardless of a deadline. Is it strange? Check this out: How deadlines can murder a motivation?

When I need to motivate myself to do something I don’t enjoy, I use rewards and deadlines – and, no doubt, I’m better off for doing that. But, when I already enjoy doing something (and given that I am a disciplined person), then I just need to let nature take its course.

What motivates you?

Hoshin Kanri. An alternative for MBO?

Previously, I have described Management by Objectives. This article presents Hoshin Kanri as an alternative to Management by Objectives. Hoshin Kanri was introduced by Toyota Motors Company. The detailed description of Hoshin Kanri may be found here.

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Hoshin Kanri is a systematic and disciplined process to align, communicate and execute business strategy by focusing on those vital few breakthrough objectives that give you competitive advantage […] Hoshin Kanri can be thought of as the application of Deming’s PDCA cycle to the management process.

It sounds like Management by Objectives, so where is the difference?

  • Objectives are set up by leaders who spent enough time at the specified workplace (gemba). They are aware of the real situation in the company, department and team. The goals couldn’t be imposed by leaders.
  • The process of setting the targets and planning the strategy couldn’t be independent. Leaders have to know how to achieve something before they expect that. Asking “how” is as important as asking “what”.
  • Measuring the progress allows to adapt to the situation.
  • There are no rewards for achievements. Hoshin Kanri is for benchmarking our projects and determining where we are in relation to the company’s vision.

It sounds totally different than Management by Objectives ;)

Do you like overtime?

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Nowadays, companies like to connect the readiness for overtime work with the responsiblity. We are responsible if we are ready to work at night. We aren’t lazy if we are finishing our job after hours. It is an important client, it is an important product, it is an important project. How often have we heared such explanations?

I admit that people who work after hours are responsible for their work, but overtime haven’t to be treated as something natural. Instead, it may be a good ocassion to ask why we need additional time to finish our task or project? In my opinion this question and especially the anwsers are more important than the readiness for working at night. What goes wrong? Where is is the source of the delay?

Toyota give us a method called 5 Whys.

 

  1. “Why did the robot stop?” The circuit has overloaded, causing a fuse to blow.
  2. “Why is the circuit overloaded?” There was insufficient lubrication on the bearings, so they locked up.
  3. “Why was there insufficient lubrication on the bearings?” The oil pump on the robot is not circulating sufficient oil.
  4. “Why is the pump not circulating sufficient oil?” The pump intake is clogged with metal shavings.
  5. “Why is the intake clogged with metal shavings?” Because there is no filter on the pump

 

Be responsible and require a responsiblity – this is my conclusion :) What do you think about reponsibility and working after hours?

Keep calm and develop yourself

Last week I’ve finished reading a book: The Toyota Way to Lean Leadership. Achieving and Sustaining Excellence Through Leadership Development. It made a great impression on me. The Toyota Way changes the thinking about the business.

How to develop yourself to be in accordance with the Toyota Way? The answer is Shu Ha Ri. It is a Japanese martial art concept, and describes the stages of learning to masteryContinue reading