Maintaining quality & excellence in the long-term


I enjoyed the case study on Corning.  Of course, Corning first hit my radar when I learned of how Steve Jobs got them going with Gorilla Glass.  Isaacson mentions it in the bio, but the article below gives an OK summary as well.

Jobs described [to Corning Glass’ CEO, Wendell Weeks] the type of glass Apply wanted for the iPhone, and Weeks told him that Corning had developed a chemical exchange process in the 1960s that led to what they dubbed “gorilla glass.” It was incredibly strong, but it had never found a market, so Corning quit making it … [Jobs] said he wanted as much gorilla glass as Corning could make within six months. “We don’t have the capacity,” Weeks replied. “None of our plants make the glass now.”

“Don’t be afraid,” Jobs replied. This stunned Weeks, who was good-humored and confident but not used to Job’s reality distortion field. He tired to explain that a false sense of confidence would not overcome engineering challenges, but that was a premise Jobs had repeated shown he didn’t accept. He stared at Weeks unblinkingly. “Yes, you can do it,” he said. “Get your mind around it. You can do it.”

As Weeks retold this story, he shook his head in astonishment. “We did it in under six months,” he said. “We produced a glass that had never been made.”

What Was Steve Job’s Secret?

As an organization, Corning seems to have mastered cautious innovation.  Their success seems to lie in the ability to provide as much support as possible in creating the right corporate culture, and then stepping aside and letting positive things happen.  If you really look at it, they have done the exact opposite of what Kodak and Blackberry (Formerly RIM) did.  And, we know how that has worked out.

Paul Borawski wants to know this month how companies can maintain quality and excellence in the long-term. If we agree it’s a journey, not a destination, how do we succeed in staying on the right path?

Corning has done well.  Again, it’s a great case study worth the read.

But, look at Apple too and I think the recipe is there and consistent:

Create a culture of quality and excellence and be active with support.  Everyone must own it and act in a manner that is consistent.

Hire the right people and support autonomy.  When the right people have autonomy, innovation happens.

Considering both short and long-term results in decision making focuses on the journey while keeping an eye out for the destination.  An understanding of the perspective for both and taking a course of action consistent with objectives will ground all efforts. Involving cross-departmental teams really provides perspective here.

Frequent evaluation of both the destination and journey status allows organizations to be pliable and make necessary continuous improvements that require less resources when discovered and adjusted as quickly as possible.

Always listen to the external environment and consider opportunities for improvement and/or innovation.

Fayol wasn’t wrong: Planning, Organizing, Leading & Control (Management is key to success)

“Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the enterprise has two – and only two – basic functions: marketing and innovation” ~Peter Drucker 

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