Newsletter – May, 2012

On My Mind

Conducting an employee performance review can be a difficult task for leaders at any level of an organization. The study I just completed on Hoshin Kanri (Policy Deployment) generated numerous insights on how to improve organizational performance from a strategic perspective. One interesting emergent cultural theme was the ability to give and receive criticism during a performance review. During the annual Hoshin Kanri process, employees are assigned responsibilities for objectives, strategies, and/or actions plans and then later progress is reviewed. The review conversation can be difficult if progress is not satisfactory because it suggests some type of a performance gap. Three aspects of the Hoshin Kanri review conversation appear important: (1) clarifying the aim of the review—such as to learn as much as we can and reach consensus on a positive way forward, (2) having the superior (boss) provide constructive criticism to the subordinate, and (3) having the subordinate be open to suggestions for improvement. Ideally, the nature of a Hoshin Kanri review should reflect a respect for people and be conducted in the spirit of improvement and employee development—not to judge a subordinate as good or bad. Organizations could benefit by training managers on how to conduct effective reviews.

Interesting Stories

Jamie Moyer, baseball pitcher for the Colorado Rockies, recently became the oldest player to win a Major League Baseball game at the age of 49. He is having a respectable season so far—relying more on his experience and craftiness than how fast the ball moves towards home plate once it leaves his hand. A professional in any field of endeavor needs to think deeply about retirement at some point in time. Should I retire? Fortunately, for those of us who enjoy baseball or a good career longevity story, Jamie Moyer said “not yet.”

Company News

My research paper titled, The Application of Policy Deployment (Hoshin Kanri) in Indian Companies is finished and will be presented in early August in Hong Kong at the Annual Asian Network for Quality Congress. The Advances in Hoshin Kanri public seminar has been scheduled for August 15, 2012. It will be held at the Crowne Plaza in Plymouth, MN. A detailed brochure is now available (contact me at The Fourth Annual Advanced Strategic Improvement Practices Conference has been scheduled for October 16, 2012 at the BayView Event Center on the shore of beautiful Lake Minnetonka. A detailed brochure will be posted in June.

Intriguing Reads

It was hard for me to put down the book titled, The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation by Jon Gertner. Bell Labs was AT&T’s research and development organization from the 1920s to the 1980s. It developed a reputation for being one of the best “invention producing” laboratories in the world. The author describes the history of Bell Labs and its scientists in a very interesting and readable way.