Wednesday, November 30, 2011

For Toyota, Patriotism and Profits May Not Mix

This is a great and insightful article from the Wall Street Journal reporting on Toyota's overcapacity, desire to protect Japanese jobs, the importance of 'monozukuri' (manufacturing skills), export reliance, possible off-shoring to North America and losing $5 billion a year.

Click here to read the full article.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Nine awesome interviews

The 99% is Behance's research arm and think-tank. One of blog posts focuses on interviews with nine creative visionaries including:
  • Ernest Hemingway (1954)
  • Apple's Steve Jobs (1994)
  • Industrial Designer Dieter Rams (2010)
Blogger Jocelyn K. Glei says there's nothing so useful for demystifying the creative process as hearing an artist or entrepreneur speak from a very personal perspective about how, and why, they do what they do. This weekend, I combed through my archive of epic and inspiring interviews and came up with this shortlist. Straight talk from Ernest Hemingway, Dieter Rams, Patti Smith, Steve Jobs, Ansel Adams, Tina Brown, Chuck Close and more.

Click here to read the full article.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Products Chinese Consumers Want

A great post from HBR.

China's urban consumers are spending - 20% more than in 2010. This is where companies nurturing the demand for new or unfamiliar products are succeeding. Fabric conditioners, fruit juices, vitamins and mineral supplements are all increasing market share.

Cities that have been tagged for development by government has more potential for growth than the larger, established cities. Milk company Mengniu tripled its revenues to $4.5 Billion by chaning its slogan from "one cup of milk a day" to "three cups" as well as introducing new specialised products and premium products.

Click here to read the full article.  

Innovation Makes Things Cheaper

Another great post from Innovation Excellence via Jorge Barba. Here's an excerpt....

* * * *
Believe it or not I’ve heard business owners tell me that if they’re innovating, they want to charge a high price. First of all, a truly innovative ideas makes it’s benefits accessible to as many people as possible. This means the cost of entry for the customer is lower, not higher.
Again, a lot of focus is placed on product innovation. Technology alone isn’t necessarily going to take your company up-up and away. What you can charge a premium for is a great customer experience.

There is also this belief that because you added more features to your offering, then it makes it the best. Therefore the consumer should pay more for these features. Not so. If anything, having the most important features that the customer really values is what really matters.
Click here to read the whole post.

* * * *
QMI Solutions has realised the power of helping companies implement innovative solutions that meet the needs of price-sensitive and has developed a product sourced on a successful version that has comes from Germany's Fraunhofer IAO. It is called Cost-Focused Innovation.

Fraunhofer IAO’s approach to CFI is centred on identifying new price sensitive customer groups and then designing products that meet the absolute needs of that group. A great example is that of IKEA’s innovative approach to affordable living for young families. Formule 1, Accor’s budget hotel brand, is another CFI example targeted at a specific customer group - travelling sales representatives.

Click here to read more about Cost-Focused Innovation.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Can India's National Manufacturing Policy create 100M jobs?

Sourced from the Manufacturing Executive - this is an interesting post that outline India's plans for manufacturing up to 2025.

* * * *
As proposals for its
National Manufacturing Policy continue to move through India’s government committees, industry groups are expecting a potentially massive impact on employment and a substantial boost in manufacturing - up to 25% of GDP by 2025.

Chandrajit Banerjee, director general of the Confederation of Indian Industry commented: "It aims to create 100 million jobs and put the manufacturing sector into a high growth trajectory, making India a favored destination for manufacturing."

Currently the manufacturing sector contributes 15% to India's GDP,compared to other emerging economies such as China with 34%, 40% in Thailand and 26 to 30% in South Korea, Poland, Turkey and Malaysia.

* * * *
Click here to read the full post.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Better process means better innovation

This excerpt is part of a larger post by Dr Tim Kastelle from UQ.

It is from Chess Champion Gary Kasparov commenting on the winners from a 2005 Chess tournament which allowed human and computers to enter as hybrid teams. The winners were amateur players using modest equipment with a superior process. He said:

"Weak human + machine + better process was superior to a strong computer alone and, more remarkably, superior to a strong human + machine + inferior process."

Click here to read the full article.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Top five trends for food and beverage market during 2012

Sourced from Australian Food News.

International research body, Innova Market Insights, has identified five key trends that it claims will impact the Australian food and beverage market through 2012 and beyond.

According to Innova, the top trends for 2012 relate purity, authenticity and sustainability, as consumers continue to look for products with added value, despite the ongoing economic uncertainty.

Click here to read to full article.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Willing to be weird?

A post from Dr Tim Kastelle:

I think that to successfully innovate, we have to be willing to be weird. We must be prepared to succeed unconventionally, namely:
  1. Reward people that come up with the weirdest ideas
  2. Be extra vigilant for conventional failures
  3. Make it risky to not test out new ideas
Click here to read the full article.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Roma company sharpens up for CSG work

After learning of the assistance available to manufacturers through QMI Solutions, Sharpe Engineering first used the QMI team to conduct a Benchmark exercise, then an enterprise resource planning (ERP) selection process and, most recently, to implement the 5S system. “We knew what we had to do to improve the business, but QMI Solutions prompted it,” says CEO Peter Sharpe.
As a result, Sharpe Engineering benefited by increasing its business by 50% and selected an ERP system specific to the business's needs.

Click here to read the full article.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Why doesn't Britain make things any more?

This is such an interesting post by Aditya Chakrabortty in The Guardian. It reflects on the decline in manufacturing - de-industrialisation -  in the UK, which by any comparisons is significant (66%). It particularly focuses of the past glories industry in the north-east and the angst and uncertainty of what has replaced these industries. Some quotes from the article to whet your apetite:

"There is a popular argument which holds that all the rot in the British economy began in 1979. I don't believe that. Nor am I spinning a tale of leonine industrialists being led by Westminster donkeys. Pearson Engineering's Tom Clark has a good story about how the firm's previous owners used to handle industrial relations. Every time the workforce went on strike, which was often, one of the Pearsons would buy a new Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud and drive through the picket line, waving two fingers at his own staff."

"The real charge against Blair and Brown is that, rather than focus on this problem of underpeforming managers and shareholders, they chased the fantasy of the knowledge economy. In their wake trailed a whole phalanx of propagandists."

"Last year, we British bought £97bn more in goods from other countries than we sold to them – the biggest shortfall since 1980."

"..or you hear American economists arguing that free trade may have reduced salaries for blue collar workers in the west, but they can now buy cheaper Chinese imports. In other words, you may have lost your factory workshop – but at least you've got a pound shop."

Click here to read the full article.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The value of programs supporting manufacturing SMEs

Released in September by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation is a research report into the effectiveness of various Government programs from around the world that support manufacturing SMEs.

Programs from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Germany, Japan, Korea, Spain, and the UK and USA are analysed to determine effectiveness and return on investment for governments. NB: Enterprise Connect is the program analysed on behalf of Australia.

The report is quite extensive but in essence it comes to the conclusion that SME manufacturing support programs need to explicitly respond to the specific current challenges, needs, skills, and capabilities of a country’s SME manufacturing base, while at the same time charting a path to help SME manufacturers acquire the next generation of engineering, innovation, and product development and commercialisation skills.

Because SME manufacturers have to continually adapt to a changing landscape, the report argues that support programs must be as responsive. It suggests that analysing the composition of a nation’s manufacturing base, in terms of the "technological intensity" of its manufacturing sectors as either "low-technology", "medium-low technology", "medium-high technology", or "high-technology" is one way to do this.

When comparing Anglo-American programs with those of Germany/Japan, it is possible that German and Japanese SME manufacturers may be enjoying the benefits of the more advanced technical and engineering apprenticeship training programs these countries are renowned for (particularly Germany’s famed Technische Hochschules), meaning that their SME manufacturing support efforts have historically been able to focus more on the "front-end" of innovation, R&D, and new product development and introduction, instead of having to invest as much effort in assisting manufacturers with adopting lean manufacturing principles, improving process techniques, and adopting new technologies.
Click here to download a PDF of the full report.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Redmond Gary Elevates its Performance

Redmond Gary initially worked with QMI Solutions for six months, focusing specifically on introducing Lean Manufacturing practices. “We did a benchmarking exercise to see where the business sat compared to the rest of the industry,” says Managing Director Andrew Danks.

Profitability increased by 20%, productivity by 25%, production has risen from three vehicles a month to one a week and the accident rate has significantly reduced.
Click here to read the full article.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Three business lessons to learn from Steve Jobs

To date many have blogged (debated) about Steve Jobs and his achievements to date. Here's an interesting post from a ReadWriteWeb blogger, having recently read the Jobs autobiography, stating the three key lessons to learn from Jobs's success - intuition, reinvention and focus.

More interesting to me was the theme that emerged from the autobiography about the creativity that occurs when combining the humanities and science.

Click here to read the full blog.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Snatching innovation from the jaws of a problem

I found this article on Associated Content where it provides a few examples on how innovation can be the silver lining to a problem. Two interesting examples including bottling water seepage from a train tunnel and turning tents into trousers.

Click here to read the full article here.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Innovation Excellence - Slow Down So You Can Go Fast

The Innovation Excellence website provide a range of thoughts and trends on innovation. On the site, Holly Green posted an interesting article regarding the biases that exist within an organisation and hinder its decision-making capacity and therfore its innovation capability. Some key points from the article:
  • Actively seeking out contrary data to ensure that key decision makers had all the information they need to make the best decision
  • Allowing people with conflicting points of view to openly express their opinions
  • Thoroughly reviewing the business case for the decision, even when senior executives strongly supported the decision
  • Establishing processes and lines of communication to ensure that truly innovative ideas reach the senior management level
 Click here to read the full article.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Tom Peters interview: Excellence NOW

The link to Innovation Excellence's interview with Tom Peters is below. In it, Tom Peters talks about the importance of innovation permeating every "nook and cranny" of an organisation and how SMEs are the backbones of innovation in our economies.

Click here to read the interview.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Innovation is the key to life after resources boom

Interesting article in The Australian (1/11/11) by Anthony Wong discussing Steve Jobs, Branson and the Future Jobs Forum specifically in reference to setting up an Innovation framework to prepare for the inevitable bust post the resources boom.

Click here to read the full article.