Newsletter – June, 2014

On My Mind

My research team’s study on preserving quality superiority identified six factors that were important for an organization to sustain a quality advantage in the marketplace: quality superiority as a strategic intent; go beyond customer focus to customer intimacy; leaders at all levels engaged in quality activities; strong quality management system in place; quality is embedded in the culture; and the organization responds to—and shapes—the environment. Our initial findings were published in the July 2010 issue of Quality Progress (Top This: How to Maintain Your Edge After Gaining a Quality Advantage). I couldn’t help but think about our research recently while following the Norway Chess 2014 Supertournament ( Ten grandmasters are competing in this year’s Supertournament including current World Champion Magnus Carlsen. Carlsen has not been dominating all his tournaments this year and he was beaten twice in one recent tournament. He is currently tied for first with two other players (Kramnik and Caruana) after six of nine rounds in the Supertournament. What does it take to stay the World Chess Champion knowing so many other grandmasters are focused on defeating you? It must be exhausting! Chess superiority as a strategic intent is probably one of them.

Interesting Stories

California Chrome comes up short! There have been eleven Triple Crown winners in horse racing history—the last being Affirmed in 1978. California Chrome won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness this year, but Tonalist played the spoiler by winning the Belmont Stakes. The three races—of different lengths—occur over a roughly five-week time period and some people have called for a rule change that would require all horses to run all three races. There is a perceived performance advantage for horses running only one or two of the three races. It’s difficult to say if this is a legitimate concern or sour grapes, but I’m sure the debate will continue for a while. On another note . . . I’m used to seeing small green mile markers on highways, but on my recent drive to Madison, Wisconsin, I saw large blue interstate highway markers on the left-hand side of the highway spaced .2 miles apart. They seemed unnecessary and a huge waste. I would love to own the company that received that contract.

Company News

I will be conducting three public seminars in the near future: Advanced Lean in Manufacturing on July 10; Root Cause Analysis on July 22; and Design for Six Sigma on August 14. All will be held at the Crowne Plaza in Plymouth, MN. The seminar brochures can be found on this website by selecting the “PUBLIC SEMINARS” tab on the homepage. The Advanced Strategic Improvement Practices Conference will be held September 24, 2014 at the BayView Event Center in Excelsior, MN. There will be fourteen outstanding presenters this year and the brochure will be available in two weeks. I will be making two presentations at the International Conference on Quality in Tokyo in October: Deep Analysis in Six Sigma and Applying the Four Student Model During Standardization Activities.

Intriguing Reads

This is about flicks, and not books, but . . . Groundhog Day (1993) is one of the best movies I’ve seen about continuous improvement. Bill Murray plays a hapless television news reporter who gets the opportunity to repeat the same day over and over again—during the course of the movie he becomes skilled at continuously improving his life through comical experimentation and learning. Fast forward to 2014 . . . The Edge of Tomorrow, starring Tom Cruise, borrows/steals from Groundhog Day with a twist—there are now soldiers fighting creatures. While a different context, this movie again effectively tells the story about continuous improvement in a clever way.