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Quality & You

LEO Revisited: The benefits of “Listen, Enrich, Optimize”

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    [post_content] => I have mentioned “Listen, Enrich and Optimize” in previous articles and I'll probably mention them again. They are the main principles of my LEO methodology and they are integral to "Quality is Everyone’s Business” (QIEB) philosophy.  We use QIEB to ensure that everyone in the organization is driving toward the same goal of Quality. LEO helps ensure that this transformation is sustainable.

Why must we as individuals “listen” better to our customers, suppliers, co-workers and our competition? All too often, we dedicated ourselves to collecting data associated with a problem without asking deeper questions like “why” and “how” that might give us better clarity about the processes behind the data. Watch and observe what works and what doesn’t.  Understand and empathize with all your stakeholders until you “get it.” How they express what they need; how they define their expectation of Quality; what it takes to make them delighted and enthused with you, your employees and your company – these are the realizations that will ultimately redefine the level of service you offer and provide.

[pullquote]We use QIEB to ensure that everyone in the organization is driving toward the same goal of Quality. LEO helps ensure that this transformation is sustainable.[/pullquote]

When I say “Enrich,” I mean to point out a process that guides us toward what we should do once we have full knowledge of the situation. In other words, if listening leads us to lessons of how we may improve, then enriching means putting those lessons to work thereby increase our potential to achieve a successful solution. Here we apply some logical organization to how we are going to use our data. What does the data tell us about how we currently do things? How can we implement the data and when? If this sounds somewhat familiar, it should, since it echoes many of the aspects of the Quality Mindset that we constantly refer back to in QIEB: Honesty, Integrity, and Resistance to Compromise.

Ultimately, once you and your entire organization have gotten the processes and procedures honed down and working to meet and exceed the needs, wants and desires of your customers, both internal and external, then you must keep raising the bar. That’s the point of “Optimize.” The goal is not just to put out a fire but also to prevent it from happening again. We can challenge known solutions and compare them against other solutions you have discovered; select the best ones and constantly subject them to every situation they may encounter. When you have corrected for any and all possible shortcomings, start the process over. Ultimately, we will never settle for just “good enough” again.

We can spend quite a bit of time on sharpening our LEO skills. By Listening, we don’t get complacent. By Enriching, we strive for perfection. And by Optimizing, we look at Quality as a universal, everyday goal, not an exception that rests with a few people. Ultimately, to be successful, quality must be “everyone’s” business.
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I have mentioned “Listen, Enrich and Optimize” in previous articles and I'll probably mention them again. They are the main principles of my LEO methodology and they are integral to...

Quality & Economics

Cutting Corners

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    [post_content] => Over the last 50 plus years, Toyota has led the automotive industry in quality and cost. As a result, the company rose to become the world's largest automotive manufacturing corporation and Japan's largest corporation with revenues of $230 billion in 2009.

However, this once untarnished icon of Japan's status as an economic powerhouse, is now in decline and the impact on the company and the entire country is tangible.

As Dr. Masatomo Tanaka says, a professor at the Institute of Technologists, a university that specializes in training engineers, "If Toyota is not healthy, then Japan is not healthy." As goes Toyota, so goes Japan.

Toyota has long enjoyed near hallowed status in Japan as the greatest practitioner of "monozukuri," a centuries-old ideal of perfection in craftsmanship central to ancient pottery and sword-making.  The pride of craftsmanship, burned into Japanese culture as the apex of accomplishment, was turned loose on the factory floor and was once the secret to Japan's postwar "miracle."

Then something changed. Yes, the earthquake and tsunami last year was a serious blow to Japanese manufacturing, but the decline at Toyota was clear long before the natural disaster. About the time the company achieved its global dominance, rumors began to filter out that management was cutting corners on quality – fewer people on the factory floor, lower quality raw materials and suppliers, reductions in research and development.

[pullquote]Shaving a few dollars off the cost of each car has resulted in billions of dollars in recall costs, not to mention the billions of dollars in legal costs the company has incurred from lawsuits filed by customers and government regulators – and in a few cases, possible loss of life.[/pullquote]

The result has been devastating. Shaving a few dollars off the cost of each car has resulted in billions of dollars in recall costs, not to mention the billions of dollars in legal costs the company has incurred from lawsuits filed by customers and government regulators – and in a few cases, possible loss of life. The damage has also been broadly felt: dealerships have lost sales, negatively impacting local economies, and for a time Toyota’s global position fell. But Toyota’s once unblemished record of quality is now questioned in the media and among many customers.

To compound matters, as Toyota moved away from quality, some of its competitors have moved in. Some have embraced their earlier methods to the extent that their products are now surpassing Toyota. Korea's Hyundia-Kia is rapidly gaining on once dominant giant and Detroit's big three have partly adopted Toyota's engineering and manufacturing methodologies and improved their quality as well.

Toyota had the quality mindset before it become the largest corporation in Japan and the largest automotive company in the world.  The company’s actions proved that quality can be the principle driver of efficiency and profitability, but also market dominance. Now the company is learning a new lesson about what happens to giants when they cut corners too often.
    [post_title] => Cutting Corners
    [post_excerpt] => Is it culture, the weather, geography? Perhaps ignorance of what the right policies are? Simply, no. None of these factors is either definitive or destiny. Otherwise, how to explain why Botswana has become one of the fastest growing countries in the world, while other African nations, such as Zimbabwe, the Congo, and Sierra Leone, are mired in poverty and violence? 
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Over the last 50 plus years, Toyota has led the automotive industry in quality and cost. As a result, the company rose to become the world's largest automotive manufacturing...

Quality & Process

Power Up Talent

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    [post_content] => An executive from a company that makes electronic components complained to me that her workforce lacked the talent to move quality beyond the organization’s current level.

“My people are simply not up to the challenge,” she sighed.

“What makes you think that?” I asked.

“Quite frankly, they are satisfied with being good enough—nothing more, nothing less—and leaving as soon as they can,” she replied. “We’re a component company. It’s not very exciting work.”

We then talked about some well-known innovations and the people who created them:
  • Jonathan Ive, the in-house designer responsible for the now iconic iPod, iPhone, and iPad, as well as other products.
  • Chris Anderson, a staff editor at Wired who created the concept of “long tail economics,” and later wrote a best-selling book about his findings. Long tail economics is now studied by business and economics students around the world.
  • Claire Diaz-Ortiz, an early hire at Twitter, who developed many of the social media concepts that transformed Twitter (and other platforms) into major media leaders.
Talent drives excellence, and excellent always drives quality. Talent contributes to the overall success of the organization, and demonstrates to others how excellence is within our grasp. While it may seem that talent is spontaneous and unplanned, the truth is, talent already exists within organizations—you just need to know how to tap it. The problem in many companies, and with many individuals, is that we’re often focused on people like the programmer who is a coding genius or the salesperson who has a knack for closing deals. Sometimes we’re so focused on what is most visible, that we miss talent waiting to be mined. Part of this is our failure to notice people who are the everyday heroes. These are the people who make the rest of the workforce more productive, and able to focus on improving quality. For example, the woman in accounting who is the ‘go-to’ person for Excel spreadsheet formulas, and the mail clerk who has a flair for fixing the copier, have talent that helps the company move forward. These people possess talent that is just as vital to success as a single history-making invention. Talent is an essential part of business, and something that should be encouraged with all employees, not just those involved with the well-known projects and assignments. Talent shows itself through innovation and creativity, but it also motivates people in the organization by inspiring all of us to find higher levels of excellence. Most importantly, talent exists throughout the organization, and enables people to contribute, succeed, and feel invested in the company. And when everyone feels invested in the company, we all win. [post_title] => Power Up Talent [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => power-talent [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-10-11 01:06:24 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-10-11 01:06:24 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://subirchowdhury.com/?p=1415 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )
An executive from a company that makes electronic components complained to me that her workforce lacked the talent to move quality beyond the organization’s current level. “My people are simply...

Quality & Me

Center for Bangladesh Studies at UC Berkeley

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    [post_content] => The Subir & Malini Chowdhury Center for Bangladesh Studies at the University of California, Berkeley has an ambitious mission ahead. At the top of their list are innovative projects that aim to improve garment-industry safety, apps to solve social problems, and gathering data on antibiotic-resistant bacteria found on fruits and vegetables. And that's only a month after it opened on March 30.

Chancellor Nicholas Dirks presided over a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, founder of BRAC University — one of the universities with which the center will partner — gave a guest lecture to celebrate the center’s launch after the ceremony.

A first of its kind effort in the United States, the center will merge research, scholarship, art and culture, and building ties between institutions in Bangladesh and the U.S. under the leadership of Sanchita Saxena, who also leads the Institute for South Asia Studies at Berkeley.

[caption id="attachment_1333" align="alignnone" width="470"](L-R) Sanchita Saxena, Director of the Chowdhury Center, UC Berkeley; Subir Chowdhury, (Donor); Chancellor Nicholas Dirks of UC Berkeley; Sir Fazle Abed, Founder of BRAC; Malini Chowdhury (Donor); Lady Abed (L-R) Sanchita Saxena, Director of the Chowdhury Center, UC Berkeley; Subir Chowdhury, (Donor); Chancellor Nicholas Dirks of UC Berkeley; Sir Fazle Abed, Founder of BRAC; Malini Chowdhury (Donor); Lady Abed[/caption]

Helped along with a $1 million seed fund from the Subir and Malini Chowdhury Foundation, the center will support research to improve lives in Bangladesh and showcase the country’s culture, history, talent and resilience in the face of intense trials, and emphasize:
  • Exchange and scholarship programs to take UC Berkeley student and faculty researchers to Bangladesh to study, work and exchange ideas.
  • Academic partnerships like one in the works with Bangladesh-based BRAC University, which is funded by the largest international, non-governmental development organization.
  • The study of Bangla culture, history and language.
  • Support for graduate students through two annual graduate fellowships focused on the quality of life in Bangladesh and pursuing Bangladesh studies, and for undergraduates through one annual scholarship studying South and Southeast Asian Studies.
  • Development of a Bangladesh component that can be incorporated in other courses in areas ranging from public health to engineering or metropolitan studies.
UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, an internationally renowned anthropologist and scholar of Indian ethno-history, was present for the unveiling of the new Center.

“The  Subir and Malini Chowdhury Center for Bangladesh Studies underscores UC Berkeley’s commitment to provide our faculty and students with expanded options for engagement with global issues,” Dirks said. “We have a great deal of expertise to share, and much to learn from others as we confront challenges that know no national border.”

India-West, the largest and most prestigious among weekly Indian newspapers on the U.S. west coast, published an article celebrating the Center as a seminal event that puts Bangladeshi study on the map at the university.  Sanchita B. Saxena, executive director of the Center for South Asia Studies at Berkeley and director of the new center, was quoted:

“The study of Bangladesh has been, for the most part, quite marginalized at most academic institutions. Centers focused on South Asia are almost always heavily dominated by faculty, students and research focused on India. So the other countries in South Asia (including Pakistan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka) are often neglected.

“The Chowdhury Center really tries to solve this problem by highlighting what is currently happening in the field of Bangladesh studies — everything from arsenic removal in the drinking water to understanding microfinance to literature and culture.

“Our goal of showcasing innovative research and training the next generation of scholars in Bangladesh has been realized through this gift which includes the establishment of the Chowdhury Center, but also three critical funding opportunities for students: two graduate fellowships (one to study the quality of life improvements and the other on any aspect of Bangladesh studies) and an undergraduate scholarship.”

The launch of the center this year is the closes a two-decade circle for Chowdhury and Raka Ray, chair of the Department of Sociology and professor of South and Southeast Asia studies at UC Berkeley. In 1993, Ray asked Chowdhury for help to establish a Bangla language program. “I had no money then,” Chowdhury said. But he promised himself that if he ever did, he would “help her cause.” The center is screening applications from scholars who want to advance their studies in Bangladesh. Caitlin Cook, one of the center’s two inaugural fellows, helped gather data on antibiotic-resistant produce-borne bacteria. “I got a real appreciation for the talent of Bangladeshi researchers and the quality of the work they’re doing there,” said Cook, who is currently completing a master’s degree in public health at UC Berkeley. "This fellowship has really put me on the right track to work in global health.” Berkeley’s Bangladesh studies center is also developing an exchange program for faculty and students at UC Berkeley and BRAC University, in Dhaka, as well as a summer study-abroad program at the Asian University for Women in Chittagong, Chowdhury’s hometown. In October, the center will co-host UC Berkeley’s second Bangladesh Development Initiative conference. Direct links: First Bangladesh Studies Center in US, at UC BerkeleyThe Daily Star, Weekend Bulletin, April 17, 2015 U.C.Berkeley Launches 1st Bangladesh Studies Center in U.S. India West, Richard Springer, April 9, 2015 First Center for Bangladesh Studies Now Open at UC Berkeley NBC News, Jennifer Chowdhury April 3, 2015 Dr. Sanchita Saxena, Executive Director of the Chowdhury Center, interview for TBN24 Prime Time News April  1, 2015 বার্কলেতে বাংলাদেশ গবেষণা কেন্দ্রের আনুষ্ঠানিক যাত্রা শুরু আজ (The establishment of a research institute for the study of Bangladesh in Berkeley) Prothom Alo, Hasan Ferdous, March 31, 2015 UC Berkeley celebrates launch of Subir & Malini Chowdhury Center for Bangladesh Studies Daily Californian, Elaina Provencio, March 31, 2015 Bureau of South Central Asian Affairs, Dept. of State, Twitter feed, March 30, 2015 UC Berkeley first university to house a center for Bangladesh studies UC Berkeley News Center, Thomas Levy, March 25, 2015 (Cover Story) Making it Happen Md Shahnawaz Khan Chandan, The Daily Star, May 9, 2014 Subir Chowdhury Puts Bangladesh Studies on U.C.’s Map Richard Springer, Staff Reporter, India West, Apr 23, 2014 Bangladesh takes center stage with Subir and Malini Chowdhury Center, By Kathleen Maclay, UC Berkeley Media Relations April 21, 2014 Radio Interview of ISAS Executive Director, Sanchita Saxena, Preeti Mangala Shekar for KPFA 94.1 FM's APEX Express, February 27, 2014 - 7:00pm A Bangladeshi’s million dollar gift to Berkeley, Sohara Mehroze Shachi for Dhaka Tribune, February 23, 2014

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The Subir & Malini Chowdhury Center for Bangladesh Studies at the University of California, Berkeley has an ambitious mission ahead. At the top of their list are innovative projects...