Issue 4, 1993

Viewpoint Discontinuous Improvement: Five Catapulting Ideas

Russell L. Ackoff

National and regional economies, like individual enterprises, cannot maintain positions of leadership by conducting business as usual. Nor can they, once they've slipped, regain leadership by imitating the current leader. Imitators seldom if ever catch up to those they imitate. While they are busy incrementally improving their own activities and copying their more innovative competitors, the latter make quantum leaps that increase their leads. To maintain or regain a position of economic dominance, both economies and companies need nothing less than large discontinuities to catapult them ahead. [...]

Issue 4, 1993

Building the Power Partnership: Some Rules of the Game for CEOs and Their Boards

Robert K. Mueller

One of history's most remarkable organizational achievements is the large public enterprise governed by an independent board of directors. It has served society well for most of this century as an unrivaled creator of wealth, employment, social services, and benefits. [...]

Issue 4, 1993

Rethinking the Organisational Architecture

Robert M. Tomasko

Getting the organisation right is an issue likely to preoccupy executives throughout the 1990s. This is a difficult time to work in, manage, or change a corporation. Although downsizing and restructuring have become widespread, their purpose has usually been merely to chip away at old structures and practices. Too few businesses have been guided by a clear vision of the kind of corporation they want to be when they emerge from all this turmoil. [...]

Issue 4, 1993

Trust and Cooperation: The Payoff from a Great Place to Work

Robert Levering

When Robert McDermott took over as CEO of USAA, he inherited an underperforming auto and casualty insurer that satisfied none of its major stakeholders - customers, owners, or employees. Service was often shoddy, and the turnover rate among its largely female clerical staff was nearly 50 percent a year. "Mac D," as the retired Air Force brigadier general is known around the firm's San Antonio, Texas, headquarters, decided to wage an all-out battle to turn USAA around. [...]

Issue 4, 1993

Aligning People and Processes During Business-Focused Change in BP Exploration

Ifryn Price

British Petroleum Exploration (BPX) is the upstream exploration and production business of The BP Group p.l.c., the world's third-largest integrated oil company. Since 1990 BPX has been engaged in a process of fundamental change that has already yielded significant improvements in performance. For the last two years of that program, I directed a project designed to encourage process review as an accepted management practice. Our brief included capturing and sharing the lessons in process improvement, as learned by various parts of the organization, while also examining and introducing benchmark theory and practice from outside organizations, including other companies, consultancies, and business schools. [...]

Issue 4, 1993

Removing Barriers to Change: The Unwritten Rules of the Game

Peter B. Scott-Morgan

In every realm of our lives, whether we're at work or play, there are Rules of the Game. And these rules always come in two forms – written rules and unwritten rules. [...]

Issue 3, 1993

Viewpoint Full-Cost Accounting

Frank Popoff and David T. Buzzelli

When it comes to full-cost accounting, nobody has all the answers. Certainly we don't. We do know, however, that air, water, and land are not the "free goods" our society once believed them to be. They must be redefined as assets so that they can be appropriately and efficiently allocated. Ideally, we would live on their "interest" rather than deplete the assets themselves. [...]

Issue 3, 1993

Finding Common Ground Through Alliances and Partnerships

Paul W. Chellgren and Patrick F. Noonan

Editor's note: Patrick Noonan is a conservationist, dedicated to preserving nature, protecting resources, and cleaning up pollution. Paul Chellgren is an industrialist, dedicated to using natural resources to make products that are useful to society, challenging nature, and creating goods and services that customers wish to buy. The "Odd Couple"? Hardly. The fact is that these two individuals share many of the same basic values and objectives – and the "camps" they represent need each other. To characterize industrialists and environmentalists as separate and distinct is outdated. Virtually every responsible industrialist considers himself or herself an environmentalist, at least with a small "e." Moreover, most responsible environmentalists support business goals of achieving economic growth and improving the quality of life. Nevertheless, the business community and the environmental movement do have substantive differences. Only when we succeed in integrating the strengths of both sides will we see real progress in environmental stewardship. [...]

Issue 3, 1993

An Eye on Disclosure: The EC's Eco-Management and Audit Scheme

Jane E. Obbagy and Sara J. Bragg

"... Whereas the provision of information to the public, by companies, on the environmental aspects of their activities is an essential element of good environmental management and a response to the growing interest of the public in information on this subject..."
Official Journal of the European Communities Eco-Management and Audit Regulation 29 June 1993 With increasing intensity, the public is demanding that companies not only reduce the impact of their operations on the environment but also report publicly about their progress in reducing impact. Consequently, various requirements for public reporting have been developed in Europe and North America over the last decade. In particular, the European Community's just-completed Eco-Management and Audit Regulation, which goes into effect in 1995, is establishing an important precedent by describing both the form and content of the information companies should disclose publicly. Though participation in this scheme is voluntary, its provisions will have broad impact, as the public will begin to expect the same kind of information from all companies and sites. Thus, companies choosing to meet the regulation's standards will be a step ahead of peer companies in understanding how best to satisfy stakeholders' environmental information needs. [...]

Issue 3, 1993

Measurement for Environmental Effectiveness

Stephen Poltorzycki

Most major businesses spend more than two percent of sales on environmental, health, and safety (EHS) performance. Yet, remarkably, most of them measure that performance only to the extent required by regulation. Worse, at a time when increasing accountability means rising risk, the measures they do take don't give their line managers the information they need to do their jobs. [...]

Issue 3, 1993

Six Imperatives for Excellence in Environmental Management

Gilbert S. Hedstrom and Ronald A. N. McLean

In managing for the environment, no company, however accomplished, can afford to rest on its laurels. The solid progress achieved over the past decade – in the development of clean technologies, sophisticated resource recovery systems, innovative environmental management systems, risk management methods, performance measurement tools, communication initiatives, training techniques, and more – has established public expectations that transcend both industries and nations. Today's best practices – wherever they are found – represent the minimal performance levels at which companies will be expected to manage environmental, health, and safety (EHS) issues in the next few years. [...]

Issue 3, 1993

Business and the Environment: The Shape of Things to Come

John S. Willson and J. Ladd Greeno

Business and the Environment: The Shape of Things to Come [...]

Issue 2, 1993

Viewpoint Achieving Extraordinary Customer Satisfaction: The Renewal of Rover Group

Alan Martin

Rover Group is currently the largest UK-based automobile manufacturer. Its products have included many famous brands, such as Austin, Morris, Triumph, MG, Jaguar, Leyland trucks, Land Rover, and the Rover brand itself. In the early 1970s, the company was effectively owned by the British Government and was called "British Leyland" or "BL." [...]

Issue 2, 1993

Rooting Out the Causes of Inefficient Product Creation

Michael S. Rosenberg and Bruce McK. Thompson

In the decades ahead, successful companies will be those that can develop products with real customer value - and do so fast, consistently, and cost-effectively. Toward this end, most forward-thinking companies have taken initiatives to improve their product creation processes. Among their new tools and techniques have been simultaneous engineering, cross-functional program teams, milestone reviews, and product strategy boards. [...]

Issue 2, 1993

Integrated Design and Manufacturing in Japan

Daniel E. Whitney

In 1991 I spent four months in Japan visiting companies to study how they use computers in the design of their products. My goals were to determine the outlines of the product development process; to find out what computer tools are in use and where they come from; to learn how the needs of marketing, manufacturing, assembly, field service, and other areas are taken into account during design; and to ask what the Japanese see as the main blockages to better product design. [...]

Issue 2, 1993

Controlling the Product Creation Process

Herman Vantrappen and John Collins

Pressure to be first to market with the right products is nothing new. Companies that rely on new product introductions for growth and prosperity have always known that ill-conceived products and lost development time cost them heavily in missed sales targets, lost revenues, postponed profits, and wasted development resources. What is new is that the stakes are now much higher than they used to be. Product technologies are increasing in sophistication and complexity, while product lifecycles are shrinking and competition intensifying, dramatically raising the costs and risks of new product development. [...]

Issue 2, 1993

Listening to Customers

P. Ranganath Nayak, Albert C. Chen, and James F. Reider

Our clients are keenly interested in learning how they can find out what their customers really want. They pose this question to us not so much in terms of product line extensions or incremental improvements, but in terms of really exciting new breakthrough products. Like all companies everywhere, they hope to come up with the next blockbuster. But discovering what customers really want is far from simple. We have done considerable work in this area, and from that work we have distilled several observations about how to classify customer needs, how to probe for them, and how to organize internally in order to support these efforts. [...]

Issue 2, 1993

Creating a Product Strategy

Jean-Philippe Deschamps

Surely every business has a product strategy - right? Wrong! A product strategy is much more than a list of specific product actions over time. It is an explicit route-map designed to guide a company in its efforts to develop and market products that build sustainable competitive advantage and meet its growth and profit objectives. A good product strategy maximizes both customer satisfaction and profits - while stating the firm's priorities so clearly that every function can refer to it at any time for practical operational guidance. [...]

Issue 2, 1993

Lessons From Product Juggernauts

Jean-Philippe Deschamps and P. Ranganath Nayak

When the shouting is over, one fact is clear: what differentiates perennially great companies from others is the products they sell. Some companies generate a never-ending stream of products that are appealing to customers and profitable to produce. Other companies achieve product innovation in fits and starts. Yet others launch many failed products, unprofitable products, or "me too" products. [...]

Issue 1, 1993

Viewpoint Reflections on Critical Technologies

Arno Penzias

Before I address individual technologies, let me set the stage by reviewing four technology-related concerns that are uppermost in the minds of demanding technology users: productivity, ease of use, location-independence, and trustability. [...]

Issue 1, 1993

A Prism Primer Protecting Intellectual Property

F. Andrew Anderson

Recent news items underscore the effective use of intellectual property to protect and enhance an organisation's competitive position. Despite the critical importance of intellectual property, few companies really understand what it is, how various laws and regulations work to protect it, what pitfalls await the unwary, and what steps managers should take to safeguard their firms' interests. [...]

Issue 1, 1993

The Coming Revolution in Manufacturing

Peter D. Hilton and F. William French

New manufacturing technologies - exemplified by responsive design, moldless forming, and prototype simulation - will revolutionize the ways products are manufactured and marketed, permitting and indeed requiring the substitution of know-how for capital. Old notions of economies of scale will be stood on their heads as production runs shrink from thousands to single digits, while the voice of the customer will dictate design to a degree undreamed of today. We call this new way of making things "agile manufacturing." Its effects - on industry, the work force, and the education system - will be profound. [...]

Issue 1, 1993

The Role of Government in Fostering Innovation

Ashok B. Boghani and Ronald S. Jonash

The powerful role traditionally played by governments in fostering private-sector innovation is now expanding, and savvy companies are taking full advantage of a wide range of governmental support, both traditional and new. [...]

Issue 1, 1993

Getting a Return on Your Information Technology Investment

Edward T. Choate

One of the most vexing challenges senior executives face is getting an attractive return on their information technology investments. They already recognize that information technology can fundamentally change their businesses - redefining their economic structures, product values, and customer/supplier relationships. Increasingly, leading corporations are mentioning information technology in their vision statements. A key element in Coca-Cola's recent vision statement, for example, was "construction of leading information systems." [...]

Issue 1, 1993

Strategic Technology Leveraging: Managing the Next Generation of Complexity

Ronald S. Jonash

As the costs and the risks of acquiring advanced technology have escalated, businesses have come under pressure to increase the value of their technology by accelerating the pace of its development and expanding its profitable application. This pressure is driving major changes in sourcing strategies and activities. Companies are concentrating internal R&D activities on core technologies and competencies while developing relations with external partners to apply these and related technologies collaboratively to new products and systems. [...]

Issue 1, 1993

Core-Technology-Based Management: The Next Japanese Challenge

Atsuro Kokubo

Intensifying competition - driven in part by the worldwide economic slowdown - is forcing Japanese companies to abandon their "copycat" or "me-too" strategies and adopt new Western-style strategies based on proprietary technologies. In the past, Japanese competitive advantage arose from superb interdepartmental cooperation, which allowed Japanese firms to continuously reduce manufacturing costs and improve business processes from R&D to production. Today, however, Japanese companies recognize that to survive in increasingly competitive markets they need more powerful measures. Japanese managers now generally agree that the winners in global competition will be those companies that exploit technology to maintain an edge in product innovation and product quality, an advantage in productivity, and the ability to respond quickly to market needs. [...]

Issue 1, 1993

Realising the Power of Technology

P. Ranganath Nayak

Companies everywhere are concerned that the return on their investment in technology development (which includes R&D) is inadequate. Their strategies go awry in a number of ways. Technology developed by Xerox or AT&T brings profit to Apple or Sony. Technology developed by General Motors lies fallow. Technology collaborations created to make necessary investments both affordable and lucrative end up in costly litigation, while back at home the central R&D laboratories seem to be hemorrhaging money. And companies wrestle daily with issues of choice and balance: How much to invest in process technology and how much in product technology? Which technologies to make and which to buy? How porous should the membrane be between suppliers' organisations and the parent company? [...]

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About Prism

Twice a year, Arthur D. Little covers the latest cutting-edge thinking on strategy, technology and innovation in its corporate magazine Prism. For over 20 years Prism has continually set the standards in innovative thinking and groundbreaking concepts in the world of business and management.

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