Breaking the Death Grip of Legacy Technologies

Harvard Business Review

Technologies like 3-D printing, robotics, advanced motion controls, and new methods for continuous manufacturing hold great potential for improving how companies design and build products to better serve customers. Why are older incumbent firms slow to adopt new technologies even when the economic or strategic benefits are clear? Robotics is a good example: It’s obvious that it can increase productivity, but it takes some know-how to put robots to work.

Can Lean Manufacturing Put an End to Sweatshops?

Harvard Business

It involves replacing traditional mass manufacturing with “lean manufacturing” principles. Over the last thirty years, the lean approach — developed by Japanese automakers — has permeated the manufacturing sector in developed countries, but is much less commonly used in the developing world. In addition to improved product quality and delivery times, the lean approach has been linked to improved terms of employment.

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Does Your Leadership Flunk the Testing Test?

Harvard Business Review

Just as the "quality" and "lean production" movements of the 80s and 90s required quality to be designed — rather than inspected — in, innovators have got to demonstrate greater ingenuity and integrity around how they integrate real-world testing into their projects and processes. Just as with quality and lean, this turns out to be a cultural, organizational and technical challenge. Design Information & technology Innovation

Innovating the Toyota, and YouTube, Way

Harvard Business Review

In terms of people, processes and technologies, Toyota and Google's YouTube have little in common. By sheer happenstance, I had just gotten a copy of Gemba Walks , a collection of essays by James Womack , a co-author of the automotive classic The Machine That Changed The World and a pioneering importer of Toyota-inspired lean production insights and methodologies to America.

Why Can’t U.S. Health Care Costs Be Cut in Half?

Harvard Business Review

Technological improvements in health care have given us the quality of life we enjoy today. He didn’t do it by making cars shoddier or offshoring production to low-wage countries. His secret was mass production in a “focused factory,” using interchangeable parts, specialization, and the assembly line. Ford shifted the auto industry from craft to mass production, and the Japanese later took it a step further to lean production.

B-Schools Aren’t Bothering to Produce HR Experts

Harvard Business Review

In the 1980s, our organizations learned a great deal about how to improve productivity, quality, and costs from Japanese practices. Lean production , which includes a vastly expanded role for front-line workers in addressing problems, was brought to the United States by Toyota in its auto plants but has now spread to health care, professional services, and virtually every other industry. A few decades ago, U.S.

Strategy’s No Good Unless You End Up Somewhere New

Harvard Business Review

The smart phone industry has gone through several disruptive changes in just a decade, whereas the steel industry’s technology shifts took place over a hundred-year period. Moreover, this isn’t always about coming up with new products and services. We tend to think of a shiny new product offering when we picture “strategic innovation,” but that’s too limited. Apple has disrupted several industries using new business models, not new technologies.

The Coherent Conglomerate

Harvard Business Review

A conglomerate, by definition, is a large corporation with diversified product lines , owned and run by the same management. Every successful conglomerate we know of — GE, Honeywell, Tata and United Technologies Corporation among them — has prospered by doing two things. You might be tempted to start by force-fitting your biggest and best capabilities to all your products and services.

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How Economists Got Income Inequality Wrong

Harvard Business Review

In the 1990s, a whole subfield of economics reached "virtually unanimous agreement," as a survey in the Journal of Economic Perspectives noted , that in the context of technological change, markets themselves inevitably drove U.S. The market rewards each of us according to our actual productive value, he insisted : "To each agent a distinguishable share in production, and to each a corresponding reward &38212; such is the natural law of distribution."

What You Won’t Hear About Trade and Manufacturing on the Campaign Trail

Harvard Business

They ignore the realities of how global manufacturing now works — how it has evolved into a complex network of interlinked factories that together build many of the products sold today. That is true at a high level — Section 304 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (and subsequent amendments) required every imported product to be “conspicuously and indelibly marked in English to indicate to the ultimate purchaser its country of origin, so we can see this plainly on store shelves.