Cost Cutting is Much Different than Waste Removal

Posted on December 30, 2008  Comments (1)

Cost Cutting is Much Different than Waste Removal by Jim Womack

The very last thing to consider is the one thing managers seem to embrace most readily: cost cutting. This means leaving out steps and features that actually create value from the perspective of the customer and removing employees who are actually needed to get the job done right using the current process. The hope, usually wrong, is that the customer won’t notice.

This last expedient is the one I most fear, because it is likely to be justified in the name of “lean.” Every recession seems to produce a major cost-cutting campaign sold by traditional consultants. Their key promise is rapid financial payback, even within one quarter, and the only practical way to achieve this is layoffs. I truly hope that the recession of 2009 will not be known to history as the “lean” recession and everyone in the Lean Community should vow to avoid the cost-cutting urge in their own organization.

To avoid the need for cost cutting, I hope that every would-be lean enterprise will assign someone responsibility for developing a “recession A3″ that carefully reviews the background situation. The critical step in the A3 process will then be to develop a set of countermeasures that can protect the organization and its people through the current recession while laying the ground work for a sustainable lean enterprise in the future.

Related: Operational ExcellenceGoing lean Brings Long-term PayoffsBad Management Results in LayoffsCutting Hours Instead of People

A Programmer’s View of the Universe

Posted on December 29, 2008  Comments (0)

A few weeks ago I wrote about integrating information technology and business process management. This post from Steve Yegge is interesting and discusses one reason I find that a good strategy. Programmers, by and large, are good, practical systems thinkers (this is in the management context, thinking of inter-related systems, whatever those systems are – not to be confused with a computer system).

A programmer’s view of the Universe, part 1: The fish

The first thing you notice as a programmer is that it trains you — forces you, really — to think in a disciplined way about complex logic problems. It also gives you a big booster shot of confidence around problem-solving in general. Junior programmers tend to have very high opinions of themselves; I was no exception.

In time, though, programming eventually humbles you, because it shows you the limits of your reasoning ability in ways that few other activities can match. Eventually every programmer becomes entangled in a system that is overwhelming in its complexity. As we grow in our abilities as programmers we learn to tackle increasingly complex systems. But every human programmer has limits, and some systems are just too hard to grapple with.

When this happens, we usually don’t blame ourselves, nor think any less of ourselves. Instead we claim that it’s someone else’s fault, and it just needs a rewrite to help manage the complexity. In many cases this is even true.

Over time, our worldwide computer-programming community has discovered or invented better and better ways ways to organize programs and systems. We’ve managed to increase their functionality while keeping the complexity under control.

But even with such controls in place, systems can occasionally get out of hand. And sometimes they even need to be abandoned altogether, like a dog that’s gone rabid. No matter how much time and love you’ve put into such systems, there’s no fixing them.

Programmers also tend to be active life long learners. This isn’t to say programmers tendencies are all easy to manage. They also are more likely not to accept what most people are willing to accept and can therefore be annoying to some. Now, I happen to think it is good to question conventional wisdom and authority… (which might explain one reason I am annoying), but it also explains why often management find dealing with IT staff annoying. Programmers often refuse to accept management’s belief system, including that the programmers job is just to do whatever the manager tells them to.

Related: A programmer’s view of the Universe, part 2: Mario Kart - What Motivates Programmers?Reddit, a live view of how software coders thinkExplaining Managers to ProgrammersA Career in Computer ProgrammingProgrammers – cartoon formSigns You Have a Great Job … or Not

Management Blog Carnival: 2008 Overview

Posted on December 24, 2008  Comments (5)

Over the next 2 weeks several management blogs will be posting their contributions to the management improvement annual blog carnival. Posts will highlight some of the best posts on other management blogs in the last year.



This posts is updated to link to annual review posts as they are posted.


See all previous management improvement blog carnivals.

Happy Holidays,

Related: Management Improvement Carnival, Best of 2007Curious Cat Management Improvement SearchManagement Management Improvement Blog Carnival

Cutting Hours Instead of People

Posted on December 23, 2008  Comments (2)

When financial and economic realities reach the point that labor costs must be cut I believe a good option to consider is cutting hours (and pay) instead of people. Some people will have extreme hardship if the cut in hours and pay is significant, but once you get is a bad situation no answers are likely to be without problems. I would try to offer the cuts to those that want them first. I would likely take an unpaid sabbatical, if offered, and the organization was in financial trouble.

Another way of doing something similar is profit sharing (where costs go down when profits go down). You should be careful how such sharing is designed, it can create bad incentives if done incorrectly. Also by paying a portion of wages as bonuses that expense can be reduced when times are bad without layoffs.


The Rise of the Four-Day Work Week

Like many companies, Pella is looking to cut expenses because of the economic downturn. But instead of laying off more workers, the Iowa manufacturer of windows and doors is instituting a four-day workweek for about a third of its 3,900 employees. Chris Simpson, a senior vice-president at the company, acknowledges it’s an unconventional move… it doesn’t want to be caught short of experienced workers.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of employees who normally work full-time but now clock fewer than 35 hours a week because of poor business conditions has climbed 72%, to 2.57 million in November 2008, from 1.49 million in November 2007.

Related: Bad Management Results in LayoffsSome Firms Cut Costs Without Resorting to LayoffsOperational Excellenceposts on respect for employees

Managing Passionate Employees

Posted on December 22, 2008  Comments (0)

Passion vs. Productive

There are actually few organizations that can support passionate employees – even if they say they want them. That’s because the original industrial revolution was designed to support productivity. Productivity means you produce. That’s how you’re measured. Passion is difficult to quantify

Managers want passionate employees, but don’t always know how to manage them. Passionate employees question things, probe and push. Who’s got the time to deal with that? Productive employees get things done. No questions asked.

if you align someone’s passion with their job description—you just might boost your department’s productivity.

Passionate employees are often not the easiest employees to manage. If a manager confuses ease of managing with best employee they discount the value of a passionate employee. And they often do confuse the two values. A passionate employee can seem like a bother, not willing to just go along but constantly challenging and pushing for new ideas.

One of the things that great managers do is to understand the value of passion and make the extra effort to cultivate and support those passionate employees. Even if occasionally they just want that person to just do their job and stop being so different. The great manager realizes that treating everyone the same is a very bad meme that somehow seems to have taken hold in many people’s mind. People are not the same. Managing a system of people is not the same as maintaining a machine.

A managers job is not to make their own job as easy as possible. When the system is best served by an extra passionate employee, then the manager needs to support that employee. And smooth out others that might get annoyed (often others find the passionate employee should just be like everyone else).

Related: Enhancing Passion of EmployeesDon’t ask employees to be passionate about the company!Signs You Have a Great Job … or NotJoy in Work – Software Development

Management Improvement Carnival #50

Posted on December 20, 2008  Comments (0)

Corey Ladas is hosting the Management Improvement Carnival #50 on the Lean Software Engineering blog, highlights include:

  • Where did middle managers come from? by Jeffrey Krames: A new anecdote from a conversation with Peter Drucker, which leaves the reader wondering…where should middle managers be heading?
  • 7 habits of highly effective program managers by J.D. Meier: Microsoft has a lot of Program Managers. What do the some of the best ones have in common?
  • Exploit the workers! by Pascal Van Cauwenberghe: A provocatively titled anecdote about applying Theory of Constraints to software development teams.
  • Starbucks queue by Kevin Meyer (sorry just can’t get enough of Kevin this month): A simple visual control can help your friendly coffee shop staff level out response times in the face of irregular demand (something about this example looks familiar!).
  • Is ‘Design To Cost’ better than ‘Estimation of Cost': I think so! by Tom Gilb. “[Time and cost estimates] are an old custom, intended to prevent overruns, and to give management some feeling that the job will get done in time at a reasonable cost. But they do not in fact prevent overruns or assure value.”

We are working on a special annual management blog carnival that will include posts on several blogs from the period of late December through early January.

Looting: Bankruptcy for Profit

Posted on December 19, 2008  Comments (7)

Looting: The Economic Underworld of Bankruptcy for Profit by George Akerlof, University of California, Berkeley; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) and Paul Romer, Stanford Graduate School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). George Akerlof was awarded the 2001 Nobel prize for economics. This is the abstract to their 1994 paper:

During the 1980s, a number of unusual financial crises occurred. In Chile, for example, the financial sector collapsed, leaving the government with responsibility for extensive foreign debts. In the United States, large numbers of government-insured savings and loans became insolvent – and the government picked up the tab. In Dallas, Texas, real estate prices and construction continued to boom even after vacancies had skyrocketed, and the suffered a dramatic collapse. Also in the United States, the junk bond market, which fueled the takeover wave, had a similar boom and bust.

In this paper, we use simple theory and direct evidence to highlight a common thread that runs through these four episodes. The theory suggests that this common thread may be relevant to other cases in which countries took on excessive foreign debt, governments had to bail out insolvent financial institutions, real estate prices increased dramatically and then fell, or new financial markets experienced a boom and bust. We describe the evidence, however, only for the cases of financial crisis in Chile, the thrift crisis in the United States, Dallas real estate and thrifts, and junk bonds.

Our theoretical analysis shows that an economic underground can come to life if firms have an incentive to go broke for profit at society’s expense (to loot) instead of to go for broke (to gamble on success). Bankruptcy for profit will occur if poor accounting, lax regulation, or low penalties for abuse give owners an incentive to pay themselves more than their firms are worth and then default on their debt obligations.

That is exactly what has been happening. People that are not honorable and are given huge incentives to risk the future of all the other stakeholders for immense personal gain will do so.

via: New York Times Pulls Punches On Wall Street Bubble Era Pay

Related: CEOs Plundering Corporate CoffersObscene CEO PayWhy Pay Taxes or be HonestTilting at Ludicrous CEO Pay 2008Excessive Executive Pay

Creating Customers For Life

Posted on December 18, 2008  Comments (0)

How These Businesses Made Me A Customer For Life

So I walked out of Ray’s that day with a great deal and everything that I needed to get started. Since then, I have made every single sewing related purchase possible from their store. In some cases, I have gone way out of my way to drive there (it takes 20 minutes) just to pick up some spools of thread. I have also referred them to all of my friends. As far as I’m concerned, there are no other sewing dealers that I’m willing to deal with other than Ray’s.

I can speak so highly about these businesses because I’m extremely passionate about what they have to offer. Can you extract this kind of loyalty with your small business? You bet you can. Just think about the places and businesses that you are loyal to and replicate what they do. What sets your business apart from the competition? What can you do to provide lasting value? Keep a tally of these attributes, focus on the long run and you’ll be on the right path.

I love how easy it is to deal with Amazon. I’ll use them unless they don’t have an item. Shopping at Trader Joe’s is odd. The workers actually seem like they like that they have customers. And seem as though they want to do what they can to please customers. You wouldn’t think this would be an odd trait if you read about management in a book and never actually went to stores. But I find almost few retail employees see happy provide customer service.

Related: Ritz Carlton and Home Depot contrast in customer serviceGood Customer Service ExampleSeven Steps to Remarkable Customer ServicePaying New Employees to QuitCustomer Service is Important

Some Firms Cut Costs Without Resorting to Layoffs

Posted on December 17, 2008  Comments (0)

Some Firms Cut Costs Without Resorting to Layoffs

Hypertherm Inc. has never laid off a permanent employee in its 40-year history. A 20% downturn in sales in recent months led the closely held maker of metal-cutting equipment to eliminate overtime, cut temporary staff and delay a facility expansion, says Chief Executive Dick Couch.

Managers are transferring employees to busy segments from those with less work. The Hanover, N.H., company also may bring some outsourced manufacturing in-house to keep its 1,100 workers busy, Mr. Couch says.

Private companies, like Hypertherm, may feel less outside pressure to cut jobs and a deeper commitment to employees than publicly held firms, some experts say. Still, a few public companies — including Lincoln Electric Co. and steelmaker Nucor Corp. — also have no-layoff policies.

Good for them. Smart management practices that pay off in long term results. One thing I think some employees forget is the value of such respect for employees. When times are good it is easy to see the lure of higher pay, over long term stability. Layoffs are never good. If you work with an employee and cannot find a way for them to provide value after serious effort then letting them go is fine with me. But that shouldn’t have to do with the economy. That has to do with them not being able to fulfill their responsibilities. I am very suspicious of such claims though, normally management either needs to fix the hiring process or the employee management/development process. The system is the problem not the person (the vast majority of the time).

Related: Bad Management Results in LayoffsFiring Workers Isn’t Fixing ProblemsFind the Root Cause Instead of the Person to Blamemanagement improvement jobs

Management Blog Posts From November 2005

Posted on December 16, 2008  Comments (0)

  • Management Improvement – Management concepts should evolve and improve over time. We should build upon the good ideas of yesterday and build in new innovations as they are shown to be effective. It is difficult to do so when consultants try to make their “solutions” proprietary methodologies that are sold in that way.

    Luckily working with the ideas of Deming, Ohno, Drucker, Ackoff, Shingo, Scholtes, Womack, Box, etc.. and building upon them is what is needed to be successful.

  • Google: Experiment Quickly and Often – this is basically piloting changes on a small scale, analyzing the results and doing that quickly and often. That quick, frequent experimentation is something organizations should strive to achieve.
  • Government Lean Six Sigma – Once the political decision has been made to eradicate polio then that desire can be carried out: politics really has little impact. Other examples are not as simple. A political decision to eliminate AIDS runs into political controversies in selecting the best strategies to accomplish the goal.
  • Management Guru Peter Drucker 1909-2005 – “There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer,” he said 45 years ago. Central to his philosophy was the belief that highly skilled people are an organization’s most valuable resource and that a manager’s job is to prepare and free people to perform.
  • Innovation and Research and Development – A company could innovate with an ideas like the remote control for televisions (or microlending or air bags). That innovation may not contribute in any way to manufacturing televisions more productively… Many innovations will provide a combination of both benefits. Both innovation and productivity improvement are important.

Big Failed Three, Meet the Successful Eight

Posted on December 15, 2008  Comments (1)

Big Three, Meet the “Little Eight”

The 1,300-acre plant, in which Toyota has invested $5.3 billion, produces a car roughly every minute. Georgetown’s population has doubled. In fields where farmers once grew tobacco and raised cattle, McMansions, apartment complexes, and condominiums have sprouted. A 150,000-square-foot upscale retail center is rising near the Toyota plant, the better to serve its 7,000 employees.

In San Antonio, the Toyota Tundra plant lay idle for three months this fall, though Toyota hasn’t laid off anyone. Instead, according to Richard Perez, president and CEO of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, Toyota offered the city “a whole bunch of folks who need to get busy.” (San Antonio put them to work on beautification projects.) Of course, Toyota has resources to act in a more paternalistic manner – in part because the parent companies aren’t saddled with the burdens of providing health care and retirement for workers in home markets.

This is not behaving in a paternalistic manner, this is behaving in an honorable manner with the other long term stakeholders that have a shared interest in the long term success of the company. When managers and executives do their jobs the company will succeed in good times and have a plan for bad times and will deal effectively with obvious long term issues. Health care costs, pensions costs, and bad labor-management relations have been obvious critical issues to solve for GM, Ford and Chrysler for decades. The pathetic job those 3 have done with those, and other issues (they still don’t understand how to work with suppliers, how to stop the obsessive focus on quarterly profits, how to demand honorable behavior [not looting] from senior executives…), lead to their current situation.

The poor economy leads the the situation you now see with Toyota and Honda: profits being cut, having to put in place plans to retain employees while they are not needed to produce output today, etc.. You don’t see companies needing billions to survive a few months unless they were incredibly poorly lead. And those leading them were paid many times more than those that led Toyota and Honda. They have had decades to act responsibly. They have failed. And there failure will be felt by those that enabled them to take huge pay packages that were not warranted. They should be ashamed.
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How Private Equity Strangled Mervyns

Posted on December 12, 2008  Comments (0)

I do not like the actions of many in “private equity.” I am a big fan of capitalism. I just object to those that unjustly take from the other stakeholders involved. It is not the specific facts of this case, that I see as important, but the thinking behind these types of actions. Which specific actions are to blame for this bankruptcy is not my point. I detest that financial gimmicks by “private capital” that ruin companies.

Those gimmicks that leave stakeholders that built such companies in ruin should be criticized. It is a core principle that I share with Dr. Deming, Toyota… that companies exist not to be plundered by those in positions of power but to benefit all the stakeholders (employees, owners, customers, suppliers, communities…). I don’t believe you can practice real lean manufacturing and subscribe to this take out cash and leave a venerable company behind kind of thinking.

How Private Equity Strangled Mervyns

Much of the blame for its demise lies with three private equity titans: Cerberus Capital Management, Sun Capital Partners, and Lubert-Adler.

When those firms bought Mervyns from Target for $1.2 billion in 2004, they promised to revive the limping West Coast retailer. Then they stripped it of real estate assets, nearly doubled its rent, and saddled it with $800 million in debt while sucking out more than $400 million in cash for themselves, according to the company. The moves left Mervyns so weak it couldn’t survive.

Mervyns’ collapse reveals dangerous flaws in the private equity playbook. It shows how investors with risky business plans, unrealistic financial assumptions, and competing agendas can deliver a death blow to companies that otherwise could have survived. And it offers a glimpse into the human suffering wrought by owners looking to turn a quick profit above all else.

This plan has been repeated over and over, for decades. People buyout a company, strip off huge amounts of cash for themselves, leave the company in extremely precarious position by piling on all sorts of debt which kills cash flow. This is even taught in business schools as how things should be done (although I think many business schools have cut back on promoting this type of behavior). The attitude of some is: “look at this silly company, they are not leveraged, go buy them take a bunch of cash out and they might actually stay in business for the long term, but what do we care about that we can get a bunch of cash now and pay ourselves millions who cares what happens to all those (employee, suppliers, customers…) that build up the company.”

In this case in addition to piling on all sorts of debt the buyout firm split off the real estate from the rest of the company and then doubled the rent charges – adding another cash flow drain on the company.

Cerberus also bought out Chrysler and now seeks billions from the government to help them out.

Related: CEOs Plundering Corporate CoffersWhy Pay Taxes or be HonestConstancy of PurposeRespect for people

Management Improvement Carnival #49

Posted on December 10, 2008  Comments (0)

The management carnival provides links to some great recent posts. Also see the management Reddit, which is a social media site for those interested in management. Submit your suggestions for future management carnivals.

  • Lean at ThedaCare, LeanBlog Podcast with Dr. John Toussaint, by Mark Graban – “In this podcast Dr. Toussaint looks back at ThedaCare’s accomplishments, reflects on their journey, and shares his advice for other hospitals.”
  • Survive to Make Money or Make Money to Survive? by John Shook – “Taken together, that all represents the difference in developing the organizational capabilities that enable dynamic adaptation to changes in the environment. And that all stems from a different sense of purpose — the difference between surviving to make money and making money to survive.”
  • Keeping Your Business Out of Debt – “One of the biggest reasons why small businesses fail is that they are not paying enough attention where their cash is either going or being held up. The result is that they fail to recognize and react to an impending cash crisis”
  • Kanban simulation by Corey Ladas – “It’s still fun to watch, and gives you some sense of how planning can be implemented in a pull system using minimum marketable features, rolling wave planning, and staged delivery.”
  • You Can’t Threaten People to Be Happy by Frank Roche – “They’re being warned that if morale doesn’t increase, and if their griping doesn’t end, there will be repercussions. I couldn’t make this up. Yeah, you know what works? Telling people to be happy while the friggin company is falling to pieces. That always works”
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Google Should Stay True to Their Management Practices

Posted on December 9, 2008  Comments (3)

I believe in Google’s past, present and future. They have shown a great ability to ignore the short term focus that dominates (and kills success) of so many companies today. I am happy to invest in Google for the long term.

This current reaction to the economic crisis, is one of many times Google can be seen to be making significant changes to adapt based on market conditions and the results of their experiments and experiences. Google’s management in general and the 3 leaders continue to practice a management style based on an engineering perspective while so many others practice the style Scott Adams has pilloried in the pointy haired boss.

The thought and execution of Page, Brin and Schmidt (and others: Marissa Mayer) is at a different level than that of most other executives. Skepticism is wise. But I believe Google continues to have exceptional execution and focus on long term innovation.

The biggest risk I see, for them, is they become too focused on the short term and lose their ability to take advantage of the great opportunities available by focusing on long term success. Google is in a position where they are not forced to abandon long term plans due to cash flow problems. The only decision for Google should be whether something makes long term sense or not. If they are recalibrating and deciding they were being too lax in certain areas (without long term justification) then I am fine with changes. If though they are reacting to short term market conditions that is a big mistake.

Google Gears Down for Tougher Times

He says the company is “not going to give” an engineer 20 people to work with on certain experimental projects anymore. “When the cycle comes back,” he says, “we will be able to fund his brilliant vision.”

Bad idea, short term thinking. Don’t drive business practices based on short term earning releases. If the idea is not worth 20 people long term fine, don’t do it. If it is, do it. The lack of cash that would force many companies to abandon promising efforts is not an issue for Google. They have plenty of cash and are generating much more every day.

To better predict revenue, the company implemented quotas for ad-sales representatives and tied the pay of more employees to performance

Bad idea; quotas are a sign of management abdicating responsibility. Quotas are destructive to success. Pay for performance focuses employees on meeting targets instead of the best interests of the company. Quotas are destructive to constancy of purpose.
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Japan Airlines CEO on CEO Pay

Posted on December 8, 2008  Comments (2)

Nice webbast of CNN clip on Japan Airlines CEO cutting his pay to less than that of the pilots. He really seems to understand the company does not exist for him to plunder (unlike so many CEOs in the USA).

Related: Japan Airlines using Toyota Production System PrinciplesUnder Nishimatsu, Japan Airlines Tries to Rise Above LegacyRespect for Employees at Southwest Airlinesposts on executive payHonda executives not overpaid either

Online Management Resources

Posted on December 5, 2008  Comments (0)

Since long before I started this blog I have maintained the Curious Cat Management Improvement web site. In fact, that web site has been online since 1996; the blog started in 2004. I feel the web site has tremendous resources for managers looking to improve the performance of their organization (or course I am a bit biased).

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Information Technology and Business Process Support

Posted on December 3, 2008  Comments (4)

I moved from management improvement work into information technology work (where I continue to practice management improvement). Many IT practices follow quality management guidelines well (agile software development for one).

I have found it far easier to design and provide software solutions than convince people to change their processes directly. I found it funny that as I delivered new IT solutions, in which was embedded a redesign of the process, those changes were often accepted without any significant debate. But the same changes that I tried to implement without a new IT solution had been impossible to make progress on (all sorts of reasons why it couldn’t be done were raised).

I strove, and believe I succeeded, to implement software solutions in a manner consistent with management improvement concepts. I started doing so in areas where I had been working and I was designing software tools based on my intimate knowledge of the system. And in doing so I tried to use an iterative approach (and the concepts of PDSA, though not really formally doing PDSA) involving those who were actually working in the business system. So I am not talking about just plastering in some IT solution from headquarters on the other side of the continent.

Too often organizations fail to invest enough in IT. The IT department is staffed merely to do what others request (and often not even provided the resources to do that). So then the executives can get what they need from IT. Others can get IT to respond if the manager can elevate the issue and explain how important it is that they get some support. But in general, all sorts of obvious improvement opportunities are wasted because the resources to carry them out are just not available.

In my opinion many organizations would benefit from increasing the resources to IT and shifting the focus from passive supplier to active participant in using information technology to meet business needs. This requires staffing IT with some people that are able to work with others to determine business needs and then determine the best IT solutions and then deliver those solutions. I have found many IT people are well suited to this role (though not all – which is fine those that prefer to focus on technical implementation can do so).

Another reason this often makes sense is how integral IT is to the functioning of the company. Expertise is technology is often very important today (and it is often missing). And getting your proactive quality experts working closing with IT will help them provide more value.

This post presents some thoughts in response to: Does anyone see value in merging Quality and Information Technology departments into a Business Process Management department?

Related: Software Supporting Processes Not the Other Way AroundInformation Technology and ManagementUsing Quality Management Principles to Develop an Internet Resource by John Hunter, Jun 1999 (pdf)

Management Improvement Carnival #48

Posted on December 2, 2008  Comments (0)

Nicole Radziwill is hosting the Management Improvement Carnival #48 on the Quality and Innovation blog, highlights include:

  • With so much focus on Mumbai this week, Joe Munte’s post on the dabbawallas of Mumbai focuses on a illuminating and positive aspect of the dynamic city that provides lessons for effective management…
  • Keep it simple! Checklists and Change Programs by Crossderry is a couple months old – but I still like it. It provides a “useful reminder to avoid a common error made when PMOs first implement processes and controls – over-engineering”…
  • John Hunter reflects on Management at Google, and features a video of Schmidt and Hamel chatting. I am a big fan of Google because they skillfully implement effective, agile quality systems in an environment highly conducive to innovation…

This edition of the carnival is the first on our new schedule: we will now be publishing 3 times a month. Submit your nominations for management posts to include in future editions. The Quality and Innovation blog is the 6th blog to host the carnival, the others are: Evolving Excellence, Lean Blog, Lean Six Sigma Academy, Capable Blog and our own Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog.

Embrace Diversity, Erase Uniformity

Posted on December 1, 2008  Comments (1)

Guest Post by Jurgen Appelo, author of the Managing Software Development blog.

Five years ago, when I started working for my current employer, the entire organization (about 30 people) consisted only of 20-something white straight single males. The atmosphere was what you would expect from such an environment: conversations on football/soccer, lewd jokes, the smell of beer, and trash in every corner. In short, the perfect place to work, if you were a 20-something white straight single male.

Then the organization started changing. The subculture of 20-something white straight single males in our region could not keep up with the rapid growth of our company. And so the women arrived. And the married guys. And people with kids. And people older than 40. And people from all sorts of ethnic, religious, sexual, and disabled minorities. Before we knew it, the organization had grown to 200 people, and the group of 20-something white straight single males had dwindled to just another minority. And it’s still a great place to work, particularly for the large majority of people representing one or two minorities.

Diversity is Important
In biological ecosystems, genetic diversity is one of the most important principles. Biodiversity (the variation of species) is the most obvious form of it, but there’s also diversity within species themselves. Did you know that honey bees are slightly different from each other? That’s how they regulate the temperature in their beehives. When a hive gets too cold, the bees start huddling together, buzzing their wings. And when it gets too hot, the bees spread out and they start fanning their wings. Now, when the bees would respond to the same specific temperatures, they would all start buzzing or fanning their wings at the same time, resulting in a wildly oscillating temperature in the hive. Therefore, to improve stability, nature has made sure that the bees respond to different temperature levels. When the temperature rises, one by one the bees will start fanning their wings. And the more bees join in, the slower the temperature will rise, until it stops completely. Diversity among bees smoothes and stabilizes the temperature in the beehive.

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More Management Blog Posts From October 2005

Posted on November 30, 2008  Comments (0)

photo of yellow flower

So why did I have 2 posts with selections of October 2005 posts? Frankly I think I just made an error last month and missed the first half of October 2005, then I made a mistake and started at the beginning of October when starting this post instead of the beginning of November. But I think in this case two mistakes lead to a decent result. I certainly think October 2005 was packed with good posts, but you can judge for yourself. The photo is from my trip to Glacier National Park.

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