Fang Zhou


  • Healthcare is on everyone’s mind nowadays, from individuals to the government. Employers often try to lower healthcare expenses by sponsoring wellness programs. How effective are these programs? Not much, a […]

  • After doing Continuous Improvement for some time, I started noticing improvement opportunities everywhere, in everyday life. Here is a recent example.

    With holidays and vacation days coming last December, I was […]

  • William Stone, a veteran of 27 years in OEM and tier-one automotive manufacturing, has been hired as the quality director of Grote Industries. Stone will lead the quality management team for the manufacturer and […]

  • It has been over 5 years since I moved from R&D and manufacturing roles to continuous improvement, both leading projects and supporting Lean Six Sigma deployment. As a CI professional, what I enjoy most is the […]

  • CBS News recently had a report about “How BMW Deals with an Aging Workforce.” To develop solutions to overcome loss of productivity due to the aging workforce, BMW tested one assembly line by staffing it with […]

  • Change management is seen as an essential component of many corporate initiatives, such as Six Sigma.Sponsors are identified, consultants are hired, and people are trained and deployed as change agents. Employees seem to embrace the change as demonstrated by their enthusiasm for training and certification, and resistance seems to be under control as few question the legitimacy of the initiative. People learn to talk with new buzzwords, organize their work with new tools, and present beautiful PowerPoint slides in new templates. But the same old problems repeat and persist, and the same dysfunctional behaviors prevail in the organization. Nothing fundamentally has changed.

    Unfortunately this scenario happens too often. In many cases, it is because many senior leaders failed to recognize that their own behaviors and interactions with others have a huge influence on others, and therefore, the organization’s performance. A recent article in McKinsey Quarterly, “Why good bosses tune in to their people” by Stanford professor Robert Sutton, illustrates this well.
    Whether or not they know it, their followers monitor, magnify, and often mimic their moves. … [S]enior executives’ actions can reverberate throughout organizations, ultimately undermining or bolstering their cultures and performance levels….. [Y]our subordinates watch you constantly, so they know more about you than you know about them.
    He suggests that the extraordinary attention paid to an organization’s leaders can be an opportunity for them to “take control:”

    Express confidence even if you don’t feel it
    Don’t dither
    Get and give credit
    Blame yourself

    and to “bolster performance” of your people:

    Provide psychological safety
    Shield people
    Make small gestures

    All are common leadership standards but are not commonly followed. Continuous improvement or change management cannot be just about making others change. More importantly, we have to change ourselves, especially those in leadership positions. In conclusion, Sutton says:
    Good bosses don’’t just get more from their people and do it in more civilized ways; they attract and keep better people. If you think your employees are deadbeats, downers, and jerks, look in the mirror. Why don’’t the best people want to work for you? Why do people who appeared to be stars when they joined your team seem to turn rotten?
    In my opinion, the first step to improving an organization, and hard for many of us, is to recognize that we have to change first, and do it.
    Of all the skills and aspirations good bosses must have, self-awareness is probably the most important….. [T]he best bosses are keenly aware of their flaws, work to overcome them and to reverse the resulting damage, and enlist others who can compensate for their weaknesses.
    So here is my question: before a major change initiative was started, how often did the most senior sponsor ask “What do I, and my senior staff, have to change before this initiative can succeed?”

  • A U.K.-based manufacturer of electrical and electronic assemblies has attained Six Sigma manufacturing quality levels of 99.97 percent following the installation of fully automated, custom designed wire processing […]

  • Hy-Capacity Inc., a remanufacturer of tractor components headquartered in Humboldt, Iowa, USA, recently broke ground on the expansion of its manufacturing facility. Hy-Capacity’s new, larger facility will s […]

  • The June 14 issue of Fortune magazine featured an interview with Vanguard CEO William McNabb as a part of their C-Suite series. McNabb became CEO on August 31, 2008, two weeks before Lehman Brothers failed. Many […]

  • In my blog afew weeks ago I mentioned an article in McKinsey Quarterly about removing barriers to knowledge worker interactions. I pointed out a hidden barrier: lack of concentration or too much work-in-process […]

  • Lean Six Sigma is commonly viewed as a continuous improvement method to enhance quality and reduce costs. It’s better known for its tools than for its philosophy or underlying principles. With only superficial use […]

  • We have all heard a lot about “customer focus” in our work. But what does it really mean? How much has “bringing customer focus to the organization” helped you change the culture and improve the long-term […]

  • ThumbnailI was shopping at IKEA and found a bureau on sale for $30. The display model looked well-made with nice materials and finish. However, as expected, IKEA furniture comes in a box assembly required. No problem as […]

  • I was reading the USAirways in-flight magazine while flying from Philadelphia to Boston the other day. The issue’s Must Read is anexcerpt from Chapter 1 of the book Your Call Is (Not That) Important to Us by Emily […]

  • Last week GlaxoSmithKline agreed to pay $750 million to settle charges related to bad products. In their press release, they stated:

    “We regret that we operated the Cidra facility in a manner that was […]

  • In several of my previous blogs, I stressed the importance of statistical thinking in interpreting data. For many people, statistics is probably one of the hardest subjects to learn. In contrast, voice of the […]

  • I was running outside in the back country on a beautiful morning. It reminded me of the summer days when I was training for marathons with groups of runners. Those were some most memorable days I ever had, a lot […]