Newsletter – November, 2012

On My Mind

My thoughts have been with the people affected by hurricane Sandy. Hopefully their lives will return to normalcy soon. On another topic . . . the current difficulties facing Panasonic, Sharp and Sony is hard to imagine. According to the Financial Times, “It has taken Japan’s electronics giants only five years to wipe out the profits of nearly two decades. If Panasonic, Sharp and Sony have theirs sums right . . . the combined Y3.7tn ($46bn) they will have lost by the end of this financial year is equivalent to their profits from the previous 18, according to Capital IQ data.” These are difficult times for some traditionally “excellent” companies. Motorola, Research In Motion, Nokia, Eastman Kodak, etc. It has become clear that excellence can be quite temporary.

Interesting Stories

There were two amazing individual performance feats in October that caught my eye. Felix Baumgartner, from Austria, broke three world records on October 14, 2012 during the Red Bull Stratos project according to Wikipedia: “As part of this project, he set the altitude record for a manned balloon flight, parachute jump from the highest altitude, and greatest free fall velocity. Another occurred on October 24, 2012. Pablo Sandoval of the San Francisco Giants joined Babe Ruth (1926, 1928), Reggie Jackson (1977), and Albert Pujols (2011) as the only Major League Baseball player to hit three home runs in one World Series game. Sandoval, nicknamed the “Kung Fu Panda,” hit a home run in his first three at bats—two of them against Justin Verlander who is one of the best pitchers in the major leagues. Sandoval was eventually awarded the World Series Most Valuable Player trophy.

Company News

The Fourth Annual Advanced Strategic Improvement Practices Conference was held on October 16, 2012. It was a great success. The presenters were Jim Buckman, Jim Nelson, Dr. Andrew H. Van de Ven, Mike Degen, Dr. Randy Linton, Sheila Ward, Craig Swanson, Linda Nelson, Jeff Swanson, Cathy Reiter, Lloyd Brandon, Vern Campbell, Dave Brucks, Dr. Laura Preus, Lou Schultz, and myself. On another note, Dr. Roger G. Schroeder, Dr. Kevin Linderman, Dr. Adrian Choo, and myself were notified that our journal article titled, Six Sigma: Definition and Underlying Theory, was the top cited article in the Journal of Operations Management from 2007 to 2011.

Intriguing Reads

I recently read the book titled, Toyota Production System: An Integrated Approach to Just-In-Time, Fourth Edition, by Yasuhiro Monden. The earlier versions of this book were outstanding and so I thought I would give the Fourth Edition a try. The new content included a discussion of Toyota’s recent quality problems; eight new chapters including an interesting chapter on e-Kanban; and an Appendix titled, Reinforcing the JIT System after the Disasters of 3/11/2011, Japan. This is a must read book for anyone interested in gaining insights into the Toyota Production System.