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A QualitEvolution is intended to capture positions and experiences as a participant in the evolution of the Quality profession into the 21st century. From its origins as the brainchild of Corporate Industrial Statisticians, our profession has transformed and evolved to incorporate and adapt to the demands and expectations of our modern existence.

The scope of the subject matter within A QualitEvolution extends to the furthest ranges of quality, business transformation, management science, and quality issues especially pertinent to the members of ASQ in Canada.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Long Term Excellence - Honda vs. General Motors examples

The recent View From The Q column challenged us how to sustain excellence in the long-term for our organizations.

I thought about how Honda started off as a company making piston rings and motorized cycles for Japanese markets, and through their approach progressed to became a global leader in many industries including automotive, airplane manufacturing, power motor products (i.e. lawn mowers, gardening devices), power generators, and other industries.  This is supported by an enviable logistical supply chain and information management organization that serves Honda across different markets and cultures.

From this example, the most important thing is to have an audacious vision, and commit to doing everything possible to realize those incredible goals.  Imagine fifty years ago when the Beach Boys were singing about their Honda Honda.

While the music fans of the 1960s were praising Honda for their cycles, the brain-trust was contemplating designs for international race cars, luxury vehicles, and organizational innovations.

Long-term excellence requires a long-term 50 year view of people and organizations.  If we can follow the example of Honda, we can envision ourselves as international leaders, and use that vision to drive choices and habits which complement and contribute to the realization of that audacious vision.

In turn, anything that conflicts with that vision; namely apathy, lethargy, sloth, tolerance of sub-standard outcomes, compromises of integrity, and other maladies would surely be resisted in an environment where everyone has bought into the vision and is working toward its fulfillment.

Consider in contrast the Chevy Corvair.  This was the product of General Motors (a company so entrenched that the maxim was coined "What's good for General Motors is good for America"), which had ample financial resources, but very unsound business practices that prompted consumer advocate Ralph Nader to declare this particular vehicle design "Unsafe at Any Speed".

Fifty years ago, it would have been ludicrous to think that a Japanese manufacturer of piston rings and motorcycles would compete and surpass the largest and most established leader in motor vehicles.  

The difference between the two organizations was the vision, and the internal ethic driven to fulfill that vision.  If your organization is not passionate like Honda, then it will be compelled to follow a fate similar to General Motors.

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