Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Location of a Business Influences its Growth Potential

What advantages does close proximity of businesses have for product and firm development? According to a study conducted on the Hsinchu District in Taiwan, close proximity results in knowledge spin-offs as a result of people moving and sharing of knowledge between firms. Proximity influences innovative development in technology firms in a way that creates synergy and higher growth (Hu, Lin, and Chang, 2005). Proximity also increase the likelihood that products will move from the conception to production stages.

Innovation is a messy process where knowledge interacts with available resources in a way that leads to new product development. A significant portion of this growth rests on a person's social networks and the ideas those networks generate. Social learning becomes part of the process of how tightly woven clusters develop to overcome market challenges. 

"the close spatial clustering of technology firms favour repeated knowledge agent spinoffs and high-tech personnel mobility that then clearly influence the innovative activity of technology-based firms (Hu, Linand Chang, 2005)." 

As skilled people move from one company to the next they carry with them product development lessons in a additive manner. They can apply this knowledge to their new jobs in ways that connect corporate intellectual capital. Within their networks companies share information and build off of ideas through social construction that results in developmental synergy. 

While some industry knowledge seeps across international borders the highest states of development occurred with the confines of local clusters. Proximity in this case was an important catalyst to growth. A business that wants to succeed in a particular industry should consider the merits of working next to other businesses to soak in their innovative development.

As an added bonus, clusters made the movement from product conception to mass production more likely. It was a function of how closely they interacted to increase likelihood. When inventors and builders interact together at social clubs, restaurants, bars, and sports lounges things start to happen. Walking across the street and handing an engineer a set of plans can make a big difference. 

The study helps us understand that proximity and social interaction in places like the Hsinchu District of Taiwan produce opportunities for innovative synergy that results in new product development. When clusters are designed with innovative growth in mind, proximity should be a major consideration to help them associate through formal and informal channels. Highly skilled technology workers socialize with other like-minded individuals and share knowledge and resources in an informal manner. They also switch to new companies and carry that knowledge with them. Great minds working in the same are seem to have an additive process to get their creative juices flowing.

Hu, T. ,  Lin, C. and Chang, S. (2005). Role of Interaction between Technological Communities and Industrial Clustering in Innovative Activity: The Case of Hsinchu District, Taiwan. Urban Studies, 42, (7), 1139–1160.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Theory of Constraints and a Process of Continuous Improvement

Paths to Productivity
The Theory of Constraints developed by Eliyahu Goldratt in his 1984 book entitled The Goal highlights how organizations are limited by a small number of constraints.  These constraints can add up and impact profit margins by slowing everything else down. The organization can be defined by its weakest link. To improve performance means removing these bottlenecks and ensuring efficiency and proper flow throughout the organization.

Bottlenecks can be physical, financial or informational. Manufacturing facilities have spots where products and resources are congested. Likewise, organizations that rely heavily on intellectual capital could have informational bottlenecks that limit task completion. Financial constraints can also impact both types of organizations when capital is not available to finish projects as needed. 

Research helps uncover these bottlenecks and find solutions that improve the overall flow of physical, financial or informational resources. A process of continuous improvement is implemented in a way that leads to greater analysis, discovery, improvement and review that creates higher levels of organizational performance. A continuous process is often beneficial in this regard. 

The Five-Step Continuous Improvement Process:

The Five-Step Continuous Improvement Process is based on finding the constraints in the system
(Goldratt, 1984, p. 297).
1. Identify the system's bottlenecks.
2. Decide how to exploit (get the most from) the bottlenecks.
3. Subordinate everything else to the above decision (make the bottleneck the
4. Elevate the systems bottlenecks (find a way around the bottlenecks).
5. If, in a previous step, a bottleneck has been broken go back to step 1.

Goldratt, E. (1984). The goal. Croton-on-Hudson, New York: North River Press, Inc.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Snowshoeing into the Wild

Snowshoeing is an excellent outdoor hobby that gets your heart rate pumping and brings you to places that not many have traversed. While it is a popular Northern hobby for those places without large population it can be easily adapted to anyplace that has at least 6 inches of snow. 

Many have used snowshoes for ice fishing, hunting, and even getting to their homes. Others have adopted the sport for fun and fitness activities. You will find the benefits of the workout when you are carrying an extra few pounds on each foot and need to lift up to step into the next position. 

I use snowshoes for lots of different reasons which include hiking, hunting, and photography. It is an excellent idea to have a few in your house or cabin. Modern snow shoes have better bindings than the ones in the past and even come with an ice cleat. A descent pair can be bought for about $100.

Best of all they can double for decoration!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Passive Aggressive Behavior in the Workplace

Passive-aggressive behavior can be the hidden demon that impacts an organization by slowing production and stressing relationships. This behavior is ingrained in a person's personality and can be difficult for companies to overcome. Knowing the signs of passive-aggressive behavior allows for addressing such poor behavior in the workplace.

People who regularly use passive-aggressive behavior do so because it is difficult for others to point out their aggressive activities. They use subtle language and actions that damage organizational culture and slow productivity without exposing their hidden aggressive thoughts.

As an example, lets say you are working on a project and send an email that requires additional work. A passive-aggressive person may respond with a flat and negative email questioning the necessity of that project, looking for faults, and complaining through rumors and gossip.

What happens in this situation is they are trying to punish the person who sends them work to avoid future work by being rude and "snippy". They are also sending the message they are not team players and slowing down the process.

Addressing such behaviors means not only recognizing these actions but also calling them out when they are excessive. This ensures that when it is destructive the person realizes that it is noticed and inappropriate.

However, when such situations continue to occur and impact that workplace it may be necessary to be more drastic and have a one-on-one meeting. The discussion is documented and could include anything such as professional tone, meeting deadlines, working with a team, addressing their personal issues with others in person versus in public, or bringing personal concerns to their boss instead of allowing the toxic beliefs fester.

Friday, December 30, 2016

What Does Taking the Initiative at Work Mean?

Showing initiative means that you begin to master your work environment and need less direction from others. You know what needs to be done and start on making those things happens. People sometimes feel that taking initiative means you should take on as many projects as possible but this isn't true. It means completing your job duties to their maximum without prompting from your boss and then moving onto new duties that indicate your quality to the workplace.

A few ways to show initiative are as follows:

Ask Questions: Ask questions about the projects you are completing.

Fulfill Your Duties Well: Make sure you complete all of your duties well.

Go Beyond Your Requirements: Fulfill your duties and go beyond the requirements to show your skill.

Help Others: When possible help others when they are behind.

Volunteer for Important Projects: When important projects arise that will showcase your abilities volunteer for them.