Quality Management Across Profit Models: From Big Splash to Long Tails

Conditions for business success changed from the industrial shops to the manufacturing organizations operating today. One particularly important condition for success is quality management in the creation and production of new products. There exist numerous scarcity factors that impact quality in the production process of slow time-to-market eras. These quality process enabling conditions do not exist in the new long tail profit models of abundance. The article examines a case for accelerated product process and concludes with recommendations. These recommendations may form the basis for accelerated quality management systems minimally impacting the vital importance speed at which products are developed, produced, and distributed.

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Posted in Innovation Management, Technology Management

How to Make the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For: Hitachi Data Systems and Hasbro Compared

Two relative newcomers to the Fortune® 100 Best Companies to Work For, Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) and Hasbro were ranked 63 and 92 respectively in 2013. Compiled by the Great Place to Work® Institute, the list consists of those companies whose policies, leadership, culture, and benefits represent concrete realizations of the institute’s five Dimensions of the Great Place to Work Model: credibility, respect, fairness, pride, and camaraderie. “In the best companies, leaders at all levels have a strong commitment to creating strong ties between the employee and the organization. Indeed, enhancing trust, pride, and camaraderie in the workplace is the central task of effective leadership in today’s organization” (Burchell & Robin, 2011, p. 7).
Figure 1: The Great Place to Work Model from Burchell, M. and Robin, J. (2011, p. 4). Copyright 2011 by The Great Place to Work® Institute.

The Great Place to Work Institute claims that companies realizing its definition of a trusting relationship between leadership and employees earned twice the market returns of workplaces that did not meet it’s criteria. In addition, the workplaces identified by the institute Read more ›

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Posted in Technology Management

To Comply or Compete with Emerging Standards

Open Standards word cloud Word cloud created at Wordle.net

Be they in the cloud, on your mobile device, or embedded in your networking infrastructure, standards bodies are working feverishly to set the context for competition. But to decide whether your organization should try to ‘beat em’ or ‘join em’ will require deep understanding of your technological strength and risk tolerance.

Firms considering entry into an established standards-based market will often rely on deep technical experience within their engineering ranks.  Having such expertise readily available Read more ›

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Invest in Research to Innovate Successfully, But It’s Not the Kind of Research You’re Thinking

Directing resources away from research and development is a gamble for marginal and short-term revenue gains at the cost of eroding sound market foundations. Research and development are engines of technological innovation which is in turn much of the source of growth and wealth creation for companies. The demise of past innovation leaders is caused by failures to respond to the market forces driving customer value.

However, an area in which companies often fail even when investing resources into basic, applied, and development research is appropriating the value created through these activities. Four company policies could improve appropriability rates by making key changes in the way they tie research activities to product or service development.

  1. Financial incentives in the form of increased funding could be provided to researchers that team up regularly with development staff.
  2. Processes and activities revolving around basic materials, methods, and equipment should be standardized within the company with both researchers and product developers relying on these same or equivalent essential tools.
  3. Cross-training research staff with development engineers exposes the researchers to their counterparts encouraging interaction in a non-competitive environment.
  4. Proposals for research funding must be evaluated for results in competitive advantages or strengthened competencies for the firm in order to be considered for funding.

But don’t make the assumption that customers drive all innovation. An innovation is by its definition something that didn’t exist before. The most crystal examples are organizing form of innovators, such as the Internet retail sales site Amazon.com. Its innovation was the way the firm organized itself to leverage a new technological development to sell books. Given the success of these previously unknown innovations, the market more often than not will not know except in hindsight its own wants and needs. In the case of Amazon, the product didn’t change at all but the sales vehicle convenience and ease of use gave the firm a competitive advantage over traditional brick-and-mortar bookstores. Since then, the company applied this same model to every product with a reasonable shipping profile.

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Can You Make Out the Risk Behind those Clouds?

Risk Behind CloudsDon’t get me wrong, I use and rely on cloud technologies everyday. But I’m also not one to execute a cloud strategy blindly. My IT cool factor never much worries me if by following the cloud crowd due diligence must be discounted as “fuddy-duddy” or “unadventurous”.

The more considered among us have to think of how these uncontrolled, third-party solutions expose a firm to service-level and security risks. In the first category, the risk of an outage at a pivotal point in a deal negotiation leaves the entire organization helpless to answer based on archived or shared documents. Think of the time limit that might be placed on seemingly acceptable terms during a contract negotiation. Let’s say a negotiator recalls information that will sell the counter-party’s offer to his own team but then cannot gain access to that resource. Without a backup cloud or local backup solution, the team may find itself unable to accept or continue negotiating. The repercussions could be disastrous if the counter-party refuses to wait or accommodate the team.

Firms relying on the security protocols of public cloud solutions or remote private clouds accept the same risk threshold of the service provider and then some. Should data records be subpoenaed by governing authorities, the third-party service supplier will interpret its lawful responsibilities according to its own legal department. It’s highly unlikely that the client firm’s legal team will be involved in any of the negotiations or arrangements.

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Posted in Technology Management

Risk Aversion Syndrome – Innovation Killer

There is a new risk making it’s way to a project near you. The risk of risk aversion is motivated by the belief that it is better to never try than to try and then fail. This is the prevailing career protectionist attitude. It is based on the belief that failure in an organization is not acceptable and tantamount to career suicide. Management in large organizations may express their frustration and lack of confidence in the efficacy of innovation initiatives (http://www.accenture.com/us-en/Pages/insight-low-risk-innovation-costly.aspx?c=mc_prposts_10000040&n=otc_1013). However, the fault probably lies primarily with them and the corporate cultures they encourage (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media-network/media-networkblog/2013/feb/01/reasons-fail-business-model-innovation).

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Corporate Social Responsibility and the Triple Bottom Line

To find an example of how profit-seeking businesses achieve their corporate social responsibility goals, look no further than the food and drink industry (FDI). Whether we agree or not, the social and government pressures on the FDI to address obesity in their marketing  and product strategies continue to be powerful motivators. FDI companies can trace the start of CSR programs as reaction to increased legislator attention and litigation concerning high calorie foods and drink products.

Showing remarkable foresight, Kraft and PepsiCo inspired hope for an industry struggling to find profitability when considering reshaping entire lines of product. Past and current investment brings healthy alternatives to their core markets and exemplifies the use of market incentives to  holistic corporate social responsibility. In the case of Kraft and PepsiCo, branding for health as a strategy produced increased share price, meaningful change in corporate behavior, improved image perception of the industry, and grew the market for other CSR inspired efforts.  Continuing to invest in this type of product development harmonizes the profit, people, and planet dimensions of corporate social responsibilities.

Inspired by Universum’s CSR Top 10 and curriculum study of Shifting blame/selling health: corporate social responsibility in the age of obesity.

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