Newsletter – June, 2015

On My Mind
Japanese-Style Hoshin Kanri (JSHK) is a global best practice strategic improvement system. My research-based definition of JSHK is the following: “Japanese-Style Hoshin Kanri is a systematic annual process led by senior executives—and preceded by Strategic Management activities—for developing, deploying, and accomplishing objectives (ends) and strategies (means) through coordinated organization-wide activities and the rigorous application of the PDCA cycle.” Strategic thinking is an important skill required early in the annual JSHK process once the CEO Diagnosis has been completed. For those of you who would like to develop your strategic thinking skills, consider following the inaugural Grand Chess Tour 2015. It is comprised of three events to be held in Stavanger, Norway in June; St. Louis, Missouri in August; and London, United Kingdom in December. Garry Kasparov, former World Chess Champion, is one of the creators of this elite competition. Eight of the ten participants are ranked in the “Top Ten” in the world and they will be competing for over $1 Million (USD) in prize money. Visit to learn more about this event and to position yourself to start improving your strategic thinking skills.

Interesting Stories
From an organizational change perspective—an ambidextrous organization excels at both improvement and innovation. Not every organization is good at both and so this capability can potentially be a source of competitive advantage. Amazingly, Pat Venditte—a pitcher for the Oakland Athletics—recently pitched two innings during a Major League Baseball game sometimes throwing with his right arm and sometimes with his left arm. He was the first pitcher since 1995 to perform such a feat according to the Associated Press. The other team did not score a run against him and he struck out one batter. Generally speaking—based on historical data—a left-handed pitcher performs better against a left-handed batter and a right-handed pitcher performs better against a right-handed batter. It will be interesting to see if Venditte is successful at exploiting this competitive advantage the rest of the season.

Company News
The ten day public Continuous Improvement Black Belt course schedule is set: September 15-17, October 19-21, November 17-19, and December 21. The brochure will be available on this website in the “Public Seminars” section before June 10. Registrations must be received before September 4 and space is limited. The schedule for the Continuous Improvement Master Black Belt course will be available mid-June. I will be presenting on “Quality, Analytics, & the Big Data Revolution” at the Global Quality Futures Workshop in August in Winnipeg, Canada.

Intriguing Reads
Each year only a handful of books on strategy capture my attention enough for me to read them cover-to-cover. One book this year is authored by David Youffie (Harvard Business School) and Michael Cusumano (MIT’s Sloan School of Management) and is titled, “Strategy Rules: Five Timeless Lessons from Bill Gates, Andy Grove, and Steve Jobs.” The book chronicles some of the major events of the information Technology revolution and the strategic decisions made by the three main characters. The authors structure the book around five strategy rules: Look Forward, Reason Back; Make Big Bets, Without Betting the Company; Build Platforms and Ecosystems—Not Just Products; Exploit Leverage and Power—Play Judo and Sumo; Shape the Organization Around Your Personal Anchor. This book falls short on “how to” specifics, but it provides great insight into the strategic thinking of Gates, Grove, and Jobs.