Quality means do it right when no one else is looking
Thursday, February 6, 2014
Until recently, China's competitiveness was based on one key ingredient: an abundance of cheap, low-skilled labor, writes contributor Shady El Safty. But as market conditions change, is it time for the Dragon to get Lean?
Having lived and worked in different cities at China, over the years I have often been asked by people about what the challenges are for lean transformation in China.
When I think about my experiences, there are 7 key challenges that I often found impacted lean transformation at Chinese companies that I would like to share with you:
#1: Cultural norms can get the in way of addressing wasteful practices:
Chinese culture has the concept of "Mianzi" which means "face". Losing "face", saving "face" and giving "face" are very important cultural considerations in China. Confronting someone or putting someone on the spot in any way can cause them to lose face. This cultural norm of "Mianzi" can get in the way of addressing wasteful practices or identify the areas for improvement.
#2: Hierarchical organizational structures prevent employee engagement:
The hierarchical nature of Chinese organizations hinders cooperation and joint decision making across departmental boundaries as well as up and down the chain of command. This bureaucracy often hinders an organization’s speed of change.
Communication across different departments tends to be less effective than in flat organizations. Also, the centralized decision making process of hierarchical structure doesn’t promote employee involvement.
#3: Lack of reward systems/incentives:
The Chinese see competition as a threat to group harmony and don't link the payment and reward system to actual performance. “Danwei” which means “work unit” in the Mandarin language refers to a place of employment in the People's Republic of China when the Chinese economy was still more heavily social and still has important ramification today: Chinese don’t usually move from company to company as in many other economies. They usually spend an entire career in one place, and in one group of people.
Consequently, seniority determines rank and pay rather than actual performance. Also, operators usually get paid by the number of pieces that they produce rather than product quality, and seldom control the products they receive or produce.
#4: Reliance on low-skilled migrant workers drives short-term thinking about the workforce
Until recently, China's competitiveness was based on one key ingredient: an abundance of cheap, low-skilled labor. Chinese manufacturers have short-term thinking about employees and depend on low-skilled migrant workers in particular who might not come back after Chinese New Year.
#5: Manufacturers encourage a batch and queue organization
Chinese factories often make products in big batches and thereby creating large inventories. Manufacturers are not focused on streamlining the flow in their supply chain. The manufacturers themselves encourage a batch-and-queue organization, because they often purchase full containers at a time. Their suppliers give low prices when materials are purchased in large quantities.
#6: Automation comes before process improvement:
Leadership doesn’t focus on process improvement. In Japanese factories, processes are automated only when they are physically hard or dangerous for workers. The objective is to keep improving each process by using the operators’ brains. In contrast, Chinese factory owners usually think automation is a solution to reduce their costs and their quality problems so they automate their existing bad processes.
#7: Lack of focus on efficiency:
All Chinese manufacturing industries experienced rapid technological progress in recent years, but this has not been accompanied by significant efficiency improvement.
In China, factories typically ramp up in a few weeks or months rather than the many months or years needed elsewhere. Companies feel tremendous pressure to build whatever capacity they can. In this fast moving environment, companies tend to grow by building new plants and by adding automation, machines and labor rather than eliminating waste or improving efficiency through common lean manufacturing techniques.
Monday, January 14, 2013
“Responsibility for your career development lies on your shoulders. Go and make it happen”
The people whose careers seem to grow the fastest follow similar patterns of behavior. They understand competition exists, and they understand who is responsible. They take charge of their career and accept full responsibility for their growth. There are 7 critical success factors for career development:
1. Build your Dream: It is very important to think about your dream and the vision for your own life and career. You need to think of it as a whole. You cannot distinguish between your personal and your professional life. You only have one life and you need to define your goals and ambitions. These may change over time and that’s perfectly fine. But without goals nothing can be achieved.
2. Believe in Yourself: As your skills increase, you gain more experience and a clearer understanding your significance to your organization. Believing in yourself, your skills, and your ability to succeed are critical success factors for your career development. And never forget the people who have helped you along the way.
3. Never Stop Learning: A proven way to advance in your career is to be continually acquiring new knowledge. Stay on top of trends or developments in your field and make sure that your current résumé reflects those needed skills. Take specific actions to improve your skills.
4. Sharpen your People Skills: Strong interpersonal skills play a crucial role in gaining the respect of your boss and co-workers; they will also attract the notice of outside influencers who might open new doors of opportunity for you. Be friendly, outgoing, and personable. Listen carefully to people, and practice being a clear and effective communicator.
5. Expand your Network: Strengthen your personal network by attending industry conferences and joining professional associations. Meeting people who work in your prospective field can give you valuable insight into what life is like in that career.
6. Find a Mentor: Develop mentoring relationships, either inside or outside of your company. Recent studies have shown that four out of five promotions are influenced by a mentor higher up in the company. Mentors are also great sources of information and career guidance.
Sunday, January 13, 2013
After globalization, quality surfaced as one of the major areas of concern along with productivity. With the reduction of geographical barriers and the pressure of competing in the global market, overall operational and service excellence have become necessities for the organizations to remain globally competitive. The foundation of any quality improvement is to develop quality culture among the organization and integrate it within the organization culture.
Organizational Culture is defined as the shared beliefs, values, attitudes, and behavior patterns that characterize the members of an organization. In a healthy business culture, what's good for the company and for customers comes together and becomes the driving force behind what everyone does.
Quality culture starts with leaderships who understand and believe the implications of the systems view and know the necessity of serving customers in order to succeed. The result of that understanding is a culture where a positive internal environment and the creation of delighted customers go together. It is a culture that naturally emphasizes continuous improvement of processes, one that results in a healthy workplace, satisfied customers, and a growing, profitable company.
One of the successful approaches to develop quality culture among the organization is focusing on the 5 main factors for quality culture:
First : We're all in this together: company, suppliers, and customers. The company not just as the buildings, assets, and employees, but also customers and suppliers. The goal is consistently win-win-win for all parties.
Second : Open, honest communication is vital. An important way to encourage truth-telling is by creating a culture where people listen to one another. This is a culture where open, honest communication is understood as necessary for people to function best.
Third : Information accessibility. Information accessibility is at the heart of the work we do. This information provides direction for what we will do next and, more importantly, direction for how to improve.
Fourth : Focus on processes. Everyone should be moved away from a "blame the person" mentality to a "blame the process and let's fix it" approach to problems and improvement.
Fifth : There are no successes or failures, just learning experiences. An important insight is that failure and success are always value judgments we render after the fact. We can never predict with certainty whether what we do will end up as a success or a failure (or a mistake). We do the best we can based on our current experience, information, and understanding, and something happens.