Posted by: CHIA YH | April 27, 2012

Efficiency =>Effectiveness =>Innovation

Phase I.    In the early days of the Quality Movement, consultants like Deming and later, Juran literally hold the reins in the Quality World.  Most companies focused on improving their  efficiency of the different production processes – an augmentation of the Therblig philosophy.  Productivity indices trained on the output against the input factors.  The route to ‘improvement’ was to ‘get more immediate product count’ from the shop floor on a day-to-day or hour to hour basis.  Watch the  waste, watch how workers use their hands / eyes / transport / etc, reduce processing steps etc.

The Deming Cycle by Edward Deming

The aim focus was doing the things right.  Companies concentrated on getting their shop floor operations streamlined, define and standardise rules, watch and check activities against what is set out in procedure manuals.  Create a detailed documentation and that will identify ‘misaligned’ areas, make visible what is out of synch, and ‘unnecessary extras’ are costs to be curtailed or better still stopped altogether.  The ideal state was : a perpetual, faultless systems, with little interference from supervisor, and a team that can perform self-correcting. The motto : “Do what the procedure manual spells out, and do it to the letter!”

Phase II.   The next phase of development was effectiveness.  The big question was: Are we in the right business?  Peter Drucker would have been one icon of this Quality era.   His pursuit kept alive the all important management question : “Is the direction in line with customers’ changing demands?  Is our management strategy better than a competitor’s?  Are we enlarging our market, hitting the right trends?  Are we meeting demand as demographics changes, as societal changes grow and develop?” His call for development of alignments caused many managers to look for the right directions.  It boils down to “Are we doing the right thing?”.  Meanwhile pioneer gurus also updated their Quality outlook and embedded the idea into what is now known as the Total Quality Management, and the management was recognised as the one who is to play a key role to drive the quality efforts as they are the best people to ensure alignment with corporate directions.

Whether you are Jack Welch or Donald Trump, you need to make sure that you choose the right business or right investment. Being right is as important as doing it right.   Once you or your management team mastered the ability to pick winners from the pack, the efficiency can be iron out.  Without a winning business, even if your company is efficient, it will eventually be too heavy to drive the production.

Dilbert - a candid reflection of management style in the 1980s was influenced by Drucker and Juran

Phase III.    Then comes the concept of Innovation.  So what if the business is successful today.  Will you be able to continue to be relevant tomorrow.  But tomorrow is seldom predictable and there are many factors that will affect it.  The best everyday example today is the handphone industry.  When the first handphone came to us – everyone was impressed by the fact that one can even talk to another anywhere – wow it was wonderful to call our clients, friends, family, kins while on the move, say driving, on the buses, walking along corridors to the conference room. During the times of Motorola’s dominance, the handphones literally weigh 2 kg!

Today, we are talking of smart phones, picture quality, sound, apps.  The shift to adding more has given way to ‘adding more things which are useful’.  It is not the creative ideas, but ideas which has value.  This calls for the development of the ability to, not just doing the things right, or doing the right thing, but also being able to create and add value.  While doing the thing right will ensure optimisation, doing the right things direct us towards effectiveness, innovation is really none of these! In fact innovation is contradiction to these mores.

Steve Jobs Created 'The New Value'..Imagine: Most people never even know the value of iPad, until it was launched!

Innovation is ‘allowing some mistakes in order to have new ideas’.  Thus it follows that, in order get employees to be creative, the company must allow experimentation.  Experimentation is really allowing errors.  Thomas Edison knows it, he re-created the light bulb more than 170 errors before the lightbulb was created.  And byt he way, the original successful light bulb could last for just 20 hours! 

Welcome to Phase III of Quality –  Innovation

Posted by: CHIA YH | November 26, 2010

Innovation And Its Application

The Innovation Roadmap

Innovation, being one of the favourite company strategy, was further boosted by Gary Hammel in his book, Leading the Revolution.  Innovation today is a loaded word and it covers a wide scope, and I foresee that the way innovation is going to be implemented in companies will remain highly fluid for some time.  While some have taken on the path of least resistance, which may not be a bad idea if the culture is already there, like Apple and Google, the rest may be better off to begin with some form of structured approach.

Looking at the pace of innovation happening in the world of business – the iPhone, iPad, iPod, it seems to tells us through the success of Apple, that implementation of innovative strategy is obviously on the path of growth.

This is the 2nd Apple store in China. People lining up for their iPad2, as if there is insufficient in stock.


Innovation can be defined simply as the dynamic value-adding transformation of something brought about by creative and flexible thinking.  Thus creation is but one result of creative thinking, but innovation is about the real thing – the essence or the final useful result of creativity.


Innovation Equation (CYH)

Perhaps only artists, but surely not business owners would take creativity literally.  As companies spend resources to help their employees learn creative thinking, idea generation, the employee knows that there is no compromise.

For companies, creations will only be recognised if they can add value to the company concerned.  If Apple cannot sell the iPad3 (which is in the works now) then all we can say is that iPad3 is not an innovation.


Boston Consulting Group (2009)

Once upon a time, during the era of the Industrial Engineers, Therbligs monitoring was taken as the seed to productive excellence.  Industrial Engineers concerned themselves with the ability to ‘atomise’ the entire production processs.  Like maping out the human genome, Industrial Engineers assume that by studying each ‘atomic size activity’, they can devise little tweeting to make each of these more efficient and (presto!) the sum total will produce a super efficient production process.

As Industrial Engineering continue to grip the smoke stack industries of the 1960s, experts on optimisation became to be known as Operation Managers. They can tell you exactly how fast the total process could be carried out if they have a chance to study and dissect your process into atomic size activities.  If you know the atomic structure of Diamond, it is possible to recreate Diamond from Carbon (coal) indeed – artificial Diamonds.

This is when : “Doing the Thing Right – Doing it right the first time” became the priority

Quality Control comes centre stage.   Suboptimisation and consolidated optimisation became the focus.  Sleepless nights were spent to ensure that things are done according to procedures.  Even more sleepless nights were spent trying to explain why some wayward activity falls out of line.  Error should not be tolerated.  Data are facts, and conclusions from statistical data is pure, and graphs showed the ‘simple truth’.  Technically, how can statistics lie…Paterns that present itself using statistics predicts the likelihood of future occurances.

Of course, today, we know that such a rule will only hold true for steady state….In steady states …… EFFICIENCY  rules.


Then came the MBO (Management By Objective) – Peter Drucker asked the question that shifted the paradigm, “What is your Business all about?”

Are your people strategically align? Are your people efficiently following the rules, abiding, obeying and keeping in step with the goals of the organisation?  Do not go too fast, not too slow, not too fat, not too thin, JIT (Just In Time), JIL (Just In Line), Zero Defects,

Everything has a place and everything in its place!

Everythingy has a place and every thingy in its place.

Don’t everybody need to be doing the thing right?  Isn’t it crucial that everyone is doing the thing according to SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) because then we can be counted, our output can be counted.

Then something else happened.  In the Mid-1980s, those efficient factories in Singapore and Malaysia were losing out.  The problem with ‘efficiency’ is that it is really something that can copied.  Efficiently producing a product depends on the ability to organise and produce deviations free items.

Something had changed in the 1980s.  Is efficiency a strategy that will give us the edge? Hardly enough.  One cannot, just, do the thing right, we also need to do the right thing.   Gurus of change theories like  Tom Peters, and Ross Kanter reinterpreted the needs of companies.  They make us realised that before being efficiency we must look at the effectiveness issue.


It pays to choose well before you start

“Are We Doing the Right Thing? <=> Are we in the right business?”

An even bolder step – forecasting, thinking in scenarios, and marketing, branding all became important activities to engage management before improving and finetuning the systems and operations.   At the top of the heap means being able to delight your customers, not just meeting customer requirements.  Going beyond is as important as filling the gap.  The turnpike concept: sometimes we have to build the turnpike before the traffic flow changes pattern.  The issue is really, where should the next turnpike be?


The move from a photocopier supplier to a document company, Fuji-Xerox, is a fine example to illustrate the power of this principle.  Statistical Control methodology cannot fulfil this new business requirement.  Standard training plans for staff development must include be part of the succession planning, and climate surveys must be done with change in mind, even the evaluation criteria of the QCC was changed in the early 1990s to incoporate more flexibility, and subsequently, the PDCA became not just a fixed 12-step methodolgy.


The corporate scene never stop changing (as if we need to be told!).  Change will happen and it must be managed – this we need to learn.  Managing yet facilitating change is the bellow of the 1990s.


Innovation – getting value out of change.


Although important to be efficient, it alone is not sufficient. Everyone need to support what the business goals meant, what direction we are going towards; and be ready for lane switches.

Although important to be in the right business and right direction, it alone is not enough for the future.  The future is dynamic.  It changes, even the banks are partly deregulated today, and will not be as solid as they once were.

Even a seemingly paralytic company like Apple in the 1980s can revive and be the best performing company.  Google rises to the top of the heap took less time than anyone can imagine, yet both these companies know their own vulnerbilities.  Efficiency, Effectiveness and Innovation are self-strengthening when taken together, yet they are team-destroying factors when taken alone, but when in harmony, they form the strongest triangle.  When many of these triangles are put together in 3D, the Diamond structure, is created – the strongest substance emerge.

Posted by: CHIA YH | July 10, 2010

Workplace Innovation Structure

To prevent the paradox of control and innovation, a simple structure for bringing employees into the fold of things is necessary.  First innovation should not narrowly focus on developing product enhancement and service refinement ideas. 

Rather everyone in the company should understand that they can be innovative in whatever they do.  This means that even management can also be innovative. 

It does not mean that only the PR departments needed to be able up with catchy slogans and beautiful expressions, a wonderful phrase can actually come from the shopfloor.  Our mission is: “To get them out of prisons” Changi Prison. 

Ideas can be gotten from many combination of resources, yet, it is not the end of the road; for the innovation requires the creation of additional value.

Is it possible that we can get into the knack of creativity!  Can creativity be an integral part of all the things we do?? How can we be habitually innovative?  If innovative ideas are the seeds from creative thinking, then what is the ‘flower bed’ for innovation grow? Real seeds need water or moisture (some a bit of fire to break their hard outer covering), so what about growing innovative ideas?