Tag Archives: long term thinking

Goodbye Quarterly Targets?

Goodbye Quarterly Targets? [the broken link was removed], Business Week:

For about a decade, companies have tried to goose their stocks-or manage the market’s expectations-by putting out quarterly earnings projections. Now the practice has come under fire as business leaders fret that the focus on short-term targets undermines long-term growth.

On March 14 the Commission on the Regulation of U.S. Capital Markets in the 21st Century, a project of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, urged executives to stop issuing their short-term goals. The practice is a “self-inflicted wound by American CEOs,” says commission member Robert Pozen, chairman of MFS Investment Management, a Boston fund manager.

Debate over this issue has simmered for years. Indeed, dozens of companies, including Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, have quit publicizing quarterly earnings targets. Now the issue has become urgent, the Chamber argues, as U.S. companies face growing long-term competition from overseas, where such projections are not widely made.

Learning that a fixation on short term profits is bad for the organization is a good step. Deming talked about this problem over twenty years ago in seven deadly diseases of western management one of which was: the emphasis on short term profits.

Related: Life Beyond the Short TermDell Falls ShortConstancy of Purpose

Going Lean Brings Long-term Payoffs

Going lean brings long-term payoffs [the broken link was removed] by John Torinus:

The growing number of Wisconsin manufacturers, and the few service companies, taking the lean journey are learning that it is not a sprint.

The immediate paybacks come in the form of saved space, less distance traveled, fewer handoffs, faster throughput, lower inventories and man-hours saved.

I would state the authors next point differently. The early successes provide resources to invest in making large more fundamental changes to the organization. Those successes also help convince people these lean ideas have merit. Dilbert does a good job of illustrating how many workers feel about the latest words spoken by their management. Without visible success expecting employees to believe the new management practices is unwise.

While lean aims at productivity improvements, surprising jumps in quality often result as a byproduct.

Lean manufacturing focuses on eliminating waste which given the systemic view of lean thinking leads directly to improved “quality.” Defects are a clear waste and identified as such by Ohno. Thus eliminating waste includes improving quality in many ways: reduced defects, quicker response to the market, reduction in the need to dispose of excess inventory…

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Gladwell (and Drucker) on Pensions

The Risk Poolhttps://management.curiouscatblog.net/2006/08/21/gladwell-and-drucker-on-pensions/ by Malcolm Gladwell (author of The Tipping Point and Blink):

The most influential management theorist of the twentieth century was Peter Drucker, who, in 1950, wrote an extraordinarily prescient article for Harper’s entitled “The Mirage of Pensions.” It ought to be reprinted for every steelworker, airline mechanic, and autoworker who is worried about his retirement. Drucker simply couldn’t see how the pension plans on the table at companies like G.M. could ever work. “For such a plan to give real security, the financial strength of the company and its economic success must be reasonably secure for the next forty years,” Drucker wrote. “But is there any one company or any one industry whose future can be predicted with certainty for even ten years ahead?” He concluded, “The recent pension plans thus offer no more security against the big bad wolf of old age than the little piggy’s house of straw.”

Pension plans did work well for a short period of time. But recently they (along with the attached retiree health care) are one of the big problems facing large old companies: like GM. Gladwell talks about the dependency ratio for an economy and the dependency ratio of companies. Worsening dependency ratios can cause pension plans to kill companies (if they are not funded when the obligation is incurred) – as the company is forced to pay for more and more retirees with fewer and fewer workers.
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Management Training Program

Fog Creek Software Management Training Program by Joel Spolsky:

Finally, when you’re really really good, they let you hang around with Yussef on the ovens. Yussef was about 100 years old and so good at running the ovens it was scary. When Gabbi tried to show me how to solve the problem of bread sticking to the conveyer belts on the way out of the oven, he ran back and forth like a lunatic for ten minutes, turning knobs, pulling levers, redirecting heat, and burning a few hundred loaves while he struggled to get things under control.

But Yussef, facing the same problem, turned one tiny knob on a seemingly-unrelated chimney about one degree to the right. It made no sense, he couldn’t explain why it worked, but it did: it solved the problem instantly and suddenly perfect loaves started popping out. It took me another couple of years to really understand the complex relationships between heat and humidity inside an 80 foot tunnel oven, but it would have taken ten more years before I could solve problems as well as Yussef did.

From the Lion of Lean [the broken link was removed] (an interview with James Womack):

So I said to the Toyota executive, “You’ve only got two or three suppliers per category, and you never take bids. How do you know you aren’t being ripped off?” So this guy, who was around 60, gives me an incredibly frosty look and says, “Because I know everything.” Everything? “That’s my job,” he says.

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Life Beyond the Short Term

Life Beyond the Short Term by Simon Caulkin, The Observer.

Last week’s column – ‘Adrift in a parallel universe‘ – about the perversion of management provoked an eloquent, sometimes passionate, response.

In the spirit of a positive alternative, a prime text is W Edwards Deming’s 14-point programme for transforming management, drawn up in the 1980s.

Once again Simon Caulkin has penned an excellent article. In this article he gives an overview of Deming’s 14 points. I am glad to have found another positive source for improving management – see our directory of management improvement blogs for some additional sources I find valuable.
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