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  • #54055

    Trish G
    Participant

    Was wondering what people thought of this recent HBR article that LinkedIn posted on how CI can hinder innovation.
    http://blogs.hbr.org/ashkenas/2012/05/its-time-to-rethink-continuous.html

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    #193292

    Robert Butler
    Participant

    Not much. It’s your basic assault on a straw man.

    Premise: Continuous improvement is a rigid, lock step, approach which is good sometimes but not when we need to be creative.

    Conclusion per the article: “The more you hardwire a company on total quality management, [the more] it is going to hurt breakthrough innovation. The mindset that is needed, the capabilities that are needed, the metrics that are needed, the whole culture that is needed for discontinuous innovation, are fundamentally different.”

    There’s an old saying concerning the premise – no matter how thin you slice it, it’s still baloney.

    My response to the idea that the practice of orderly thinking backed up with data somehow cripples creativity and breakthrough innovation was summed up very nicely back in 1910 by A.G. Webster: “In matters of scientific investigation the method that should be employed is think, plan, calculate, experiment and first, last, and foremost, think. The method most often employed is wonder, guess, putter, theorize, guess again, and above all avoid calculation.”

    I would recommend that the author of the piece follow his own advice and actually think about and understand what continuous improvement is really about.

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    #193294

    MBBinWI
    Participant

    @Trish – I guess that I have a slightly different perspective from Robert.

    The author has 3 main topic areas and I will address each one successively.

    1) Customize how/when CI is applied. This only makes sense and is done by any competent practitioner. That said, standardization, set-up reduction, orderliness all aid in creativity rather than detract from it. It does not take disorderliness or inefficiency to foster creativity – it takes a different perspective on the problem. In fact, I would say that one of the most effective approaches to creativity is one of the most rigorous methods out there – TRIZ.

    2) Question whether processes should be improved, eliminated, or disrupted. Again, this is just common sense. Too often myopic metrics are used instead of good system metrics. When the goal is to do the wrong business practice ever more efficiently, there is a systemic problem. Why is not the business practice being questioned instead of the efficiency of the practice. This is not a failing of the method but of the inability of the participants to see what is truly important. A good set of business level metrics will prevent this situation.

    3) Assess the impact of Company culture. This is totally off base. In an organization that has embedded CI methods, incongruous data will not be ignored, rather it will set off alarm bells and lead to questions of “what is different and why?” not be ignored.

    The author’s fundamental premise that CI can be hazardous to the health of a company, is not substantiated by the rest of the paper, nor by the facts known to those of us who have seen the insides of these organizations. If anything, it was wandering away from rigorous application of a CI culture that has lead to the demise of many of these organizations.

    Just my 2 cents.

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    #193298

    Stan Mikel
    Member

    @Trish I think the writer is an academic buffoon and he is just trying to sell his product.

    A variation of this article had appeared every year or so for the last 20 years.

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    #193301

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    @Trish It is that time of year again for this little piece of drivel to show up. We seem to be averaging one per week after last weeks MENSA candidate that is trying to figure out Cp,Cpk,Pp and Ppk. I am with Stan on this one. The only person that has to retink this or at least wants us to believe he had to retink it was Ron Ashkenas who eveidently didn’t understand how to deploy CI to begin with. It is interesting that he seems to want to treat SS and Breakthrough as separate things. The entire idea behind the SS strategy was that it was a breakthrough strategy. I guess if your real point is that you want to get your 15 minutes of fame nobody says you actually need to know what you are talking about.

    Read the stuff he talks about. It has nothing to do with CI. The issue he is talking about is poor management. With epidemic levels of poor management we currently have globally I am sure Mr. Ashkenas’ clueless state doesn’t even make the Pareto other than Misc.

    The part that really amazes me is that this nonsense made HBR. There was a time when getting published in there meant something – at least to me. I absolutely cannot believe that some nonsense with a couple anecdotes substituting for data was published under their name.

    For some reason this stuff seems to frequently come from the NE. Not real sure what that means. Maybe at some point we can run some kind of hypothesis test on what appears to be some level self agrandized clueless articles and see if that area shows a significant difference. Maybe more of that buried hazardous waste kind of thing affecting them.

    Just my opinion.

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    #193302

    Michael Cyger
    Participant

    “The more you hardwire a company on GAAP accounting, [the more] it is going to hurt the success of your company. The mindset that is needed, the capabilities that are needed, the metrics that are needed, the whole culture that is needed for discontinuous success, are fundamentally different.”

    Or substitute any other critical aspects of business management and an outcome that you expect.

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    #193312

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    @Michaelcyger This whole thing is nonsense. When you set up a CI program you always taylor it to the company culture. We have been doing that since we started consulting in deployments in 1995. Anyone with at least a 2 digit IQ should know that. You do hardwire a production line – period. You do not want people innovating while they are building something. I will guarantee you that I do not want to walk out of my office and see someone with a grinder changing the shape of a mold because he had an innovative moment. That will destroy a business.

    Innovation needs a few things to work. The first thing is innovative people. The second thing is a company culture that knows how to nurture and encourage innovation – everyone sees GE as this monster command and control environment. I challenge anyone to produce another company that generates the innovation that comes out of GE R&D that doesn’t even include the people in the rest of the company. The third thing is a place to innovate.

    There are places where innovation is inappropriate and there are places where it is not. It is a management issue to figure out how you do what you need to do to create the understanding of what is and is not appropriate. CI has nothing to do with this.

    Just my opinion.

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    #193313

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    @michaelcyger and @trish One other issue is that these academics don’t seem to get the idea that CI is in itself creative/innovative. We trasin people to use data to understand a problem and process relationships so that they can create a solution that in most cases is new. If they wanted the same old solutions they could have the same old process experts fix the same way they have many times before. If you want that you do not need to train people, have team meetings, purchase software, etc. You just climb back into the same old wheel and keep running just like a gerbal.

    I have no idea why I addressed these comments to you two.

    Just my opinon.

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    #193325

    Stan Mikel
    Member

    @michaelcyger Amen brother

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    #193331

    Trish G
    Participant

    Knew I would get some lively feedback. Thanks all… I also have a hard time understanding why being Β“data drivenΒ” could hinder innovation, and the assertion that being data driven encourages managers to ignore intuition or anomalous data??… thatΒ’s quite a leap.

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    #193348

    Larry Goldman
    Participant

    Coming to this a little late, but i think it’s telling just how many comments the HBR piece got on its site – nearly all echoing what you all think. Wonder if he just wanted to elicit some responses or if it would even impact his ideas. probably not the latter.

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