Corporate Social Responsibility: Toyota – Guest Blogger

Toyota_Logo_Newes

Introduction

In late spring 2013, I was able to witness an interesting example of a company promoting philanthropy and community relations.  Shoichiro Toyoda, Toyota’s honorary chairperson, donated $2 million to help build the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee.  As you may know, the Toyota Motor Corporation, a multi-national automaker, was established in 1937 and founded by Kiichiro Toyoda.  Toyota employs more than 330,000 people around the globe by 509 consolidated subsidiaries.  

The University of Tennessee reported that Toyoda made a trip from Japan to the campus because he wanted to see his good friend, Sen. Howard Baker, and the new facility.  Toyoda also visited Denso Manufacturing Tennessee, Inc. to tour their manufacturing facilities and then Eco Park to which Denso Manufacturing Tennessee had donated land, trails, trees, and other resources to the community for environmental education on litter prevention, recycling, and pollution prevention.  Toyoda voluntarily took a seat right next to local school students and was fascinated watching a hazardous material disposal simulation.  Toyoda appreciated Denso Manufacturing Tennessee for contributing to the community.  It was Toyoda’s genuine gesture to care about children and education, communities, and environmental issues.  

Pless (2007) pointed out that “a strong values base is also a characteristic of the role of the steward.  The metaphor of the leader as steward makes references both to being a custodian of values, a stronghold to protect professional and personal integrity” (Pless, 2007, p. 445).  I value the opportunity to meet the leader who passionately led Toyota Motor Corporation to contribute to efficient manufacturing systems, strive to produce automobiles with safety and environmental conscious concepts, and set the tone at the top to enhance corporate social responsibility. 

Change Management 

Adjusting business strategies and practices in a quickly changing global environment is a key subject.  As an automotive industry leader, Toyota has been tactfully changing management to adjust and adapt to constantly changing business environments.  Aspirations and principles found in Toyota’s Code of Conduct is influenced by the Japanese cultural characteristic that emphasizes harmonious business relationships with customers, suppliers, dealerships, and local or global communities while focusing on providing lively, safe workplaces to employees. 

The Code of Conduct guides Toyota’s business strategies such as human resources or environmental protection activities in accordance with fundamental ethical policies.  Toyota focuses on multiple subjects to operate fairly in the global marketplace in and communities where different cultures and diversities exist.  Toyota strives to utilize labor diversity while supporting equal employment opportunities including promoting a women’s workforce and people with disabilities. 

They also invest heavily in Research and Development (R&D), not only to produce quality cars and trucks, but also to promote safety activities and environmental preservation globally.  For instance, Toyota’s sustainability report focuses on improving traffic safety and car quality, contributing to a low-carbon society, and supporting global communities while they thrive to comply with safety and environmental laws.

R&D is not limited to a car’s safety features but also to accommodate workforce changes in production systems.  Recently Toyota announced that one of their assembly plants is dedicated to the employment of retirees.  The plant is designed to produce only one model at a slower cycle time to be easier for the senior employees’ level of physical fitness.  This activity is Toyota’s quick response to the government’s amendment to the senior citizen’s employment promotion law to provide a friendly work environment (Sankei Digital, 2013, para. 2).  It helps older workers to be able to operate machines and work at assembly lines at a slower pace. 

The Toyota Manufacturing System (TMS) is known as a socio-technical system, based on their management philosophy and practices to reduce unnecessary moves or inventories, to achieve the just-in-time and lean-manufacturing concepts.  TMS is designed to set up efficient and effective assembly lines for profitable production systems while quality fundamentals are met.  On the contrary, accommodating the aging work population has become a focus rather than excelling profitability.  Even if the assembly plant may not operate as efficiently as they would wish, Toyota found the initiative to solve the social challenge.  Toyota is often known to lead the industry in Japan by addressing social issues and initiating systems for improvement.  

Profitability vs. Sustainability 

The 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan were nobody’s fault.  Over thousands of years, on the small island country, the Japanese have learned to find ways to live in harmony and help each other to survive from environmental threats.  This harmonious society was harshly tested by the earthquake and tsunami to survive. 

The Tohoku region in northern Japan is known for its fishing industry, severe winter weather, and is often being threatened by earthquakes.  On the contrary, the locations are convenient for manufacturing sites to transport products to Tokyo and large metropolitan areas, consequently, many Japanese automotive components companies or heavy-duty industries located their manufacturing facilities in this area.

Severe damages by the earthquake and tsunami paralyzed water and power supplies, roads, or telecommunication systems.  Infrastructure damages kept products from being transported out of the area.  Manufacturing plants could not resume operations for weeks, and automotive component inventories were exhausted before the global supply chain was restored. As a result, automakers in Japan and the United States were forced to suspend operations or reduce production hours due to a parts shortage.  The disaster tested the vulnerability of the global economy affected by the major disaster and left us with many questions on how we can best prepare for unexpected catastrophes such as hurricanes, tornados, floods, wildfires or a financial crisis, such as the Great Recession.

One isolated country’s disaster can have a huge impact on the global economy. If organizations want to be better prepared for disasters, they must establish an effective risk management program and find the best investment options or contingency plans to minimize operational interruptions.  Furthermore, governments and corporations can collaborate to assist victims and develop unfortunate areas.  It requires a national strategy to coordinate social responsible activities to provide immediate reliefs and rescue a nation. 

In order to distribute electricity to the affected Tohoku areas, manufacturing companies in metropolitan areas modified their work schedule and implemented a rotational blackout.  Within six months, the Toyota Motor Corporation initiated regional revitalization plans in the Tohoku region, including the establishment of the Toyota Motor Tohoku Corporation to support post-quake reconstruction. 

It is also equally important for corporations to protect the natural environment while being profitable.  Steiner and Steiner explained the increasing interest in sustainable development by corporations to support non-polluting economic growth that raises standards of living without depleting the net resources of the earth (Steiner & Steiner, 2012, p. 442).  It is a corporation’s social obligation to prevent pollution and provide safe workplaces for communities. 

Michael Porter defines pollution in his book, On Competition, as a sign of resources being used incompletely, inefficiently, or ineffectively when scrap materials, harmful substances, or energy forms are discharged into the environment.  Porter feels pollution is also as sign of mismanagement.

For instance, Toyota’s environmental philosophy is to reduce environmental impact at all stages of vehicle development from production, use, disposal, and recycling while undertaking environmental activities in all business areas on a global scale (Cortez & Penacerrada, 2010, p.124).  The Toyota Manufacturing System emphasizes eliminating wasteful resources, unnecessary conveyance, and excessive inventory to achieve efficiency, increase profitability, and reduce costs. 

Porter also stresses that pollution reveals flaws in the product design or production processes (Porter, 2008, p.350).  Cardboard or plastic bag packaging is a truly wasteful material because it requires so much labor and time to unpack, flatten, gather, and transport it to landfills.  Toyota recognized and corrected this flaw in processing by replacing cardboard packaging with rigid, plastic reusable containers.  Thousands of suppliers are required to use reusable boxes to protect parts from being damaged during transportation, and at the same time, eliminate packaging waste. 

Setting up the returnable container system required an initial investment to purchase boxes; however, this cost is usually amortized during the program life of two to four years.  After their use, the plastic boxes can be sold to other companies for further recycling.  In 1999, Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America (TEMA) created an initiative to become a zero-landfill company.  Since 2012, thirteen manufacturing plants have been recognized as true zero-landfill plants.

I believe that profitability does not always have to suffer while corporations are trying to be responsible for social issues.  There is a way to attain both objectives at the same time.

Can you share other good corporate examples?  Who drives the social corporate responsibility in the organization? 

© 2014by Noriko Chapman

Noriko-professional-web

About Noriko Chapman:

Noriko Chapman, who is a native of Japan, is an international traveler and a role model to millions of women looking to overcome extreme obstacles in life. She is a production control section leader for DENSO Manufacturing, TN.                                        

DENSO Corporation, headquartered in Kariya, Aichi prefecture, Japan, is a leading global automotive supplier of advanced technology, systems and components in the areas of thermal, powertrain control, electric, electronics and information and safety. Its customers include all the world's major carmakers. Worldwide, the company has more than 200 subsidiaries and affiliates in 35 countries and regions (including Japan) and employs approximately 120,000 people.

A mother of two, she has over 20 years of experience in the automobile industry and is a cancer survivor. Noriko led a successful campaign to assist the Tennessee Rehabilitation Center (TRC), which works with disabled adults to secure employment. Her book co-authored by Dr. Daryl Green, Second Chance, was inspired by the TRC. For more information, you can visit her on Facebook.com.

References

Cortez, M.A., & Penacerrada, N.T. (2010).  Is it beneficial to incur environmental cost? A case study of Toyota Motors Corporation, Japan.  Journal of International Business Research, 9, 113-140.

Pless, N. (2007).  Understanding responsible leadership: Role identity and motivational drivers.  Journal of Business Ethics, 74(4), 437-456.

Porter, M. (2008). On Competition. Watertown, MA: Harvard Business Press.

Sankei Digital. (2013). Toyota, line and post-established retirement age dedicated to veteran employees for reemployment opportunity.  Retrieved from   http://www.sankeibiz.jp/business/news/130504/bsa1305040806000-n1.htm

Steiner, J. F. & Steiner, G.A. (2012). Business, government, and society (13ed.).  New York, NY:  McGraw-Hill.

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Quality of Life & Corporate Responsibility

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Life keeps getting tougher for folks to survive.  While politicians and media pundits seize the opportunity of each life-changing event, families seek to make the best of a struggling economy.  According to the latest government job report this month, just 74,000 more people were employed in December versus 205,000 expected by USA Today’s survey of 37 economists.[1] 

Life will become tougher for job seekers as globalization sweeps down on country after country.  For some countries, they will become industry leaders while others will fade into the night of obscurity.  Many Americans are retreating from the workforce, causing the unemployment rate to fall to 6.7% in December. 

In fact, only 62.8% of the adult population is participating in the labor market now; participation rates relate to those individuals who have employment or those actively seeking employment.[2]  Heidi Shierholz, an Economic Policy Institute economist, explains: “We’re going to have a long-term unemployment crisis for a long time.” 

This current low participation in the job market matches the lowest level since 1978.  According to USA Today business reporter John Waggoner, the economy could be puzzling to the average American: “…corporations have plenty of cash in their coffers to expand and meet future demand.  But the job numbers don’t reflect that yet.”[3]  

Companies taunt their corporate responsibility to the community with such public relationship activities as sponsoring local events.  Yet, more workers wish these companies would renew their social contracts with American employees to ensure them of a decent wage.

 

Consequently, some workers often become victim of their company’s good fortune.  Thomas Friedman, author of The World is Flat, explains, “The best companies outsource to win, not to shrink.  They outsource to innovate faster and more cheaply in order to grow larger, gain market share, and hire more and different specialists—not to save money by firing more people.”   

The world’s poor stands at more than 1.1 billion people, mostly rural Africans, Indians, and other South Asians.  In fact, the poorest fifth of the world’s people earn just 2% of the world’s income.[4]  With companies moving into emerging markets, they can raise the standard of living for millions.   

Today world’s middle class earns an average of $700 to $7,500 per family member according to the United Nations’ Millennium Development Report.  Many companies would argue that their global reach has improved the quality of life for millions around the world and this is a small price to pay for the loss of a few jobs domestically.  

Discuss if American businesses must deal with the search for cheaper labor and the consequences on the quality of life for millions of individuals locally.                                                                              

© 2014 by Daryl D. Green


[1] “Weak jobs report is not all bad for investors” by John Waggoner

[2] 2013 ends with weakest job growth in years by Annalyn Kurtz

[3]“Weak jobs report is not all bad for investors” by John Waggoner

[4]How Much Is Enough by Alan Durning

Personal Stress – Awaiting Uncertainty in 2014

depression-business-women

Do you know what the future holds in 2014 for you?  Are you now dreading the holiday season with more demands on the job, an unconcerned boss about your personal welfare, and new threats of pending layoffs?  All of these things create stress and anxiety for working professionals as the holiday season approaches.  

Sadly, our standard of living is eroding.  Families cannot make ends meet despite working multiple jobs.  Companies are demanding more.  It is no surprise that folks are stressed out.  According to the third annual Work Stress Survey, conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Everest College, more than eight in 10 employed Americans are stressed out by at least one thing about their jobs. 

Additionally, the study showed poor pay and increased workloads were top sources of concern for many employees (1,019 surveyed by phone).  The results produced a significant increase (73% to 83%) from last year’s survey, which found that more employees were stressed at work.

Another holiday season has come and gone.  After the presents have been given out and the year comes to a close, many people will reminisce about the past year.  Unfortunately, some people’s lives will be filled with many defeats, broken relationships, and unfulfilled dreams.  

These many setbacks may be relatively minor in nature.  Pastor Richard S. Brown of Knoxville notes, “For many people, the holidays season bring great pressure and stress…We stress that we can’t get everyone something for Christmas?” or they may be much more serious.

 

Depression can happen to anyone.  Christian Maslach and Michael Leiter, authors of The Truth about Burn-out, explain how stress can burn out people and impact their mental state.  In fact, many professionals are succeeding in the corporate environment while failing miserably at their own personal relationships.  If you are human, you will experience some disappointments.  It does not take a genius to understand how someone can get depressed.  Some call it a “Pity Party.”

With the ongoing global crisis and individual financial struggles, more and more Americans need to find better coping tools for survival.  2014 and beyond are full of a lot of uncertainty.  You can spend the holidays in despair or you can take control of some things to have a more successful life.  This does not happen by chance.  

For millions of individuals, a pity party is a regular affair.  However, individuals must be persistent during the current economic crisis and a good outlook goes a long way.  Your attitude will greatly impact how you retool your life so that you can be successful in the future. 

Please discuss how you plan to deal with those uncertainties in 2014. 

© 2013 by Daryl D. Green

Living Beyond Criticism

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I do know how to make my wife laugh…even at my expense. I have been fascinated with ballroom dancing since last year. It was something I reluctantly embraced after being taken kicking and screaming to the dance floor. Several weeks ago I thought it would be nice to practice my dance moves so that I would perform them better. My wife was out of town at the time. I got a notice about a dance with a live band on Saturday. I thought it would be cool.

However, I should have read the fine print. When I got to the event, it was packed full of energy and enthusiasm. What I failed to learn was that the dance was at a senior citizen center. That meant I would be dancing with my mother and grandmother at the event. Secretly, I pledged to myself that I would not ask anyone to dance and gracefully exit from this event. The average age of the attendees was over 80 years old. I was but a puppy at 40 + years old.

However, my exit strategy did not work. I invited myself to sit (of course, I did not know anyone and just dashed to the nearest unoccupied sit) with a well-to-do couple who was visiting in the area. They were well educated, financially secure, and very mobile; they had winter and summer homes. Having a questioning nature, I asked about how they perceived life and what the general attitude of these folks was in general since they were all part of the Greatest Generation. I was pretty shocked at the responses.

They noted that many of them did not care about any past accomplishments, titles, wealth, or status symbols. Most folks were mostly concerned with their health, quality of life, and having enough money to live. Kids and grandkids were rarely mentioned (many had been abandoned by them). With them approaching the end of their golden years, the focus was on current relationships and values. In fact, there was an evolution by many of them in their thinking: “There was no shame in their game.”

Many couples had forgone the taboos of living together (aka ‘shacking up) because these people did not want to lose their Social Security checks or other financial means. In a nutshell, they did not care about what others thought about them. It was something that I could relate to in ballroom dancing.

My male friends give me a hard time about ballroom dancing. However, at the same time, they cannot dance, garnish the attention of others by doing something others could not do, or inject into their character fresh confidence in learning how to do something new and different. Many people do not progress in life for fear of being criticized.

No one wants to be criticized. Dr. William Watley, Senior Pastor of the St. Phillip African Methodist Episcopal Church observed, “Criticism’s certainly something that you can’t be delivered from…From the womb to the tomb, you can’t escape it.” Criticism can be defined as ‘the expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes.’

No one can avoid criticism if they are active in an organization or serve in a leader’s capacity. Yet, individuals can also be criticized because of lack of action. Dr. Watley argues that criticism is all that some people know how to do, which indicates to him that ”these people need to get a life.” Perhaps, actress Ava Gardner summed it up best about critics: “Hell, I suppose if you stick around long enough, they have to say something nice about you.”

On the contrary, a Constructive Critic points out things that will assist in the personal or professional development of a person. A Petty Fault Finder can always locate some short coming in an individual that is not helpful and a fault that he or she does not have a problem with. In fact, no matter how hard you attempt to correct a problem noted by a Petty Fault Finder, he or she will not be satisfied; a Petty Fault Finder will seek to only locate another problem in this individual’s life.

Great leaders know how to use criticism in a way that can transform an organization. Most people are unwilling to change even when it is out of necessity or survival. Richard Daft, renowned author of Management, notes that change can be problematic for organizational growth.

 

Employees and managers often resist change. Dr. Daft explains, “Yet most changes will encounter some degree of resistance. Idea champions often discover that other employees are unenthusiastic about their new ideas….People typically resist a change they believe conflicts with their self-interest.”[1] Most managers understand how to control and oversee their organizations.

Few managers have the innate ability to inspire their employees from mediocre to extraordinary performance. That position description requires a leader, not a status quo manager. All great leaders, from President George Washington to Albert Einstein, had their own share of criticism and a merry band of Petty Fault Finders.

Sadly, some individuals never are effective in their positions because they can never seem to manage because of fear of negative criticism. Gareth Jones and Jennifer George, authors of Contemporary Management, explained how bad leadership damages an organization: “When leaders are ineffective, chances are good that their subordinates do not perform to their capabilities, are demotivated, and may be dissatisfied as well.”[2] Consequently, it is important that leaders develop strategies for managing criticism effectively in order to move their organizations to exemplary performance.

Please discuss how to cope with negative criticism in a professional work environment.

 © 2013 by Daryl D. Green

 


[1]Management by Richard Daft

[2] Contemporary Management by Gareth Jones and Jennifer George

 

The Human Factor

man-fingers-crossed

Businesses that don’t under the value of their human capital resources are in error.  In spite of the power of technology and automation, it takes people power to make business operations work.  Failing to understand this reality will leave an organization vulnerable to their competition. This week we will cover human factor buy-in, the last element in socio-technical systems.  

Organizations must shift their paradigm to viewing workers as more than mechanical parts for their organizational objectives. Gareth Jones and Jennifer George, authors of Contemporary Management, maintain that managers have a responsibility to effectively oversee their human resources which includes the people involved in the creation and distribution of goods and services. [1] Given this reality, the ability of managers to leverage their talent is crucial.  

Talent management is the process through which employers anticipate and meet the needs for human capital.[2]  Peter Cappelli, author of Talent Management, explains how mismanaging employees in organizations is problematic for an organization’s sustainable success:  “The failures in talent management includes mismatches between  supply and demand on the one hand, having too many employees, leading to layoffs and restructuring, and on the other hand, having too little talent, leading to talent shortage. [3] 

In the United States, talent management miscues fall into the following categories:  (a) Do Nothing Mode – makes no attempt to anticipate human resource needs and develops no plans for addressing them and (b) Reactive Mode – relies on outside hiring to meet human capital needs, but this approach has begun to fail now that the surplus of management talent has eroded. 

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTMs3hp-LFU

Trust is the cornerstone of any meaningful relationships in organizations.  Yet, many employees do not trust their organizations due to the lack of employment security in most companies.  According to a USA Today poll, nearly half of those interviewed said that corporations can be trusted only a little, or not at all, when it involves looking out for the best interest of employees.[4] 

Michael Hackman and Craig Johnson, authors of Leadership: A Communication Perspectives, argue that a leader’s credibility is directly related to the quality of his relationship with followers.[5] Marios Katsioloudes, a researcher specializing in Socio-technical analysis, explains that as profitability of mechanization increases, the importance of technology is implied while there is a devaluation of the workers. U.S. businesses cannot point to the lack of employee performance on a global front for mismanagement errors.[6]

Japan, a long-time benchmark for American companies, is being defeated by American employees; today, the average U.S. worker puts in 36 more hours per year than Japanese workers (1,825 vs. 1,789). 

Over the last two decades, balancing work and home life have been difficult since Americans have added 200 hours to their annual work schedule.[7] Employees want to be valued. 

Jeffrey Pfeffer, author of The Human Equation, acknowledges that organization success is directly related to implementation, and this capacity comes from the workers, how they are treated, their skills, and their efforts as it relates to the organization.[8] 

Leaders should see followers as more than mechanical parts for their organizational objectives. Managers assume that giving employees new technology is enough to keep them happy. Likewise, leaders should view followers as a vital component of the socio-technical system. 

Discuss the concept of human factor buy-in for today’s organizations.

 © 2013 by Daryl D. Green                                    

 


[1] Contemporary Management by Gareth Jones and Jennifer George

[2] Talent Management by Peter Cappelli

[3] Talent Management by Peter Cappelli

[4] “Leading others while supporting organizational values” by Daryl D. Green

[5] Leadership: A Communication Perspectives by Michael Hackman and Craig Johnson

[6] “Leading others while supporting organizational values” by Daryl D. Green

[7] “Leading others while supporting organizational values” by Daryl D. Green

[8] The Human Equation by Jeffrey Pfeffer

 

Technology Relevancy

Components of Technology

We can’t survive without technology.  Are we too dependent on it?  When the computer network is down in our office, it’s a pretty wasted day because we are paperless.  Yet, you won’t find many modern organizations that can operate when their technology malfunctions. 

This week we will focus on technology relevancy as part of the three practical applications (i.e. value modeling, technology relevancy, and human factor buy-in) in socio-technical systems.  

Organizations must understand that technology needs to be relevant as it relates to benefiting the whole socio-technical system.  Technology relates to the combination of skills and equipment that managers use in the design, production, and distribution of goods and services.[1]   

Gareth Jones and Jennifer George, authors of Contemporary Management, argue the significance of technology forces on organizations:  “Technological forces can have profound implications for managers and organizations. Technological change can make established products obsolete….”  The graveyard of many businesses is littered with numerous failed opportunities of senior executives to understand market shifts and technology opportunities.   

As an engineer myself, we are taught to use theory in order to build, design, and operate technical systems, whether mechanical, digital, or otherwise. Sometimes this creates a technical superiority over the other components of this socio-technical system. 

Organizations should obtain input from employees to ensure that the organization has not only the best technology for its operations but the right technology.[2]  This sharing of information can only come with mutual trust of leaders and followers.  Gary Yukl, author of Leadership in Organizations, notes, “Empowerment is more feasible when there is a high level of mutual trust…Leaders can affect the psychological employment of followers in many ways, and participative leadership and delegation are only two of the relevant behaviors .”[3] 

There have been numerous cases where organizations have purchased new technology to solve a problem or to become more efficient when a simple conversation with impacted employees would have produced better results at a lower cost. Therefore, organizations should invest their time in identifying the relevant technologies for their socio-technical system in a participatory manner.    

Discuss the concept of technology relevancy for today’s organizations. 

© 2013 by Daryl D. Green                                    


[1] Jones, G.  & George, J. (2009). Contemporary Management

[2] “Leading others while supporting organizational values” by Daryl D. Green

[3]Leadership in Organizations by Gary Yukl

 

 

Mapping Out Socio-Technical Systems

human-vs-robot-09

Another problem is presented. A worker gets injured on a subcontractor’s project. We gather around the table to dish out the blame. Everyone wants to point fingers. The project manager blames inadequate funding while the safety engineer cites an ineffective preplanning process. Nothing gets resolved. The issue moves up the line for a senior management decision. There’s a meeting to discuss the matter.  

Someone leads out and says, “What can be done to prevent this problem?” Numerous technical recommendations are offered. Standing up, I state, “Why don’t we ask the workers about this problem? Let’s get them involved so that they can help find the solution.”

The room gets quiet. Finally, one senior manager suggests that we should take money away from the subcontractor, buy new technology, and fire the worker’s supervisor. Everyone agrees. After dealing with this same problem every month, I was hoping for a different answer. I was disappointed again.[1] 

Why do we see managers make the same mistakes over and over and never want the day-to-day workers involved in the process? Executives are then shocked when their employees don’t buy-in on their latest management initiative. One of the reasons organizations do not reach peak performance is because managers do not create socio-technical systems to support organizational values.

With fierce global competition and a need for a market advantage, I found it surprising that managers move toward the quick fixes like downsizing for short term gain without analyzing the organization over the long-term. I am not suggesting that this approach is easy; however, I am declaring that over the long haul, an organization will become a stronger institution in the process. [2]  

The concept of socio-technical systems is very important in a highly competitive environment. Socio-technical systems relate to the reciprocal interrelationship between humans and machines. In fact, the idea explores how both the technical and the social conditions of work interact with efficiency and the human condition.[3]

This interaction satisfies each, but does not compromise the other.  Since the industrial age, researchers have recognized that both technical and social factors impact organizational performance.

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOePJH7LYZ4

Daniel Wren, author of The Evolution of Management Thought, concludes that analyzing a social system gives management an avenue to measure conflict between the “logic of efficiency” demanded  by the formal organization and  the “logic by sentiments” by the informal organization.[4]

In profit hunting, many businesses lose focus of the importance of socio-technical systems. Given precepts, the questions for most managers becomes how to use this scholarly perspective in the practitioner’s avenue where time is money and money is time.  In the following weeks, we will address three practical applications (i.e. value modeling, technology relevancy, and human factor buy-in) so that socio-technical systems within organizations can support its organizational values. 

Discuss the concept of socio-technical systems in today’s organizations.

 

© 2013 by Daryl D. Green                                                       

 


[1] “Leading others while supporting organizational values” by Daryl D. Green

[2] “Leading others while supporting organizational values” by Daryl D. Green

[3] “Philosophy of socio-technical systems” by Gunter Ropohl

[4] The Evolution of Management Thought by Daniel Wren

 

Today’s Strategic Alliances

handshakes-business

If you want to survive on the international scene, you had better develop a well connected supply chain.  Yet, businesses need to properly align with organizations that have the same ethical system and create value in the relationship.  This reality speaks to the nature of strategic alliances. 

With the sudden emergence of countries like China, Brazil, and India, there is a new emerging demand from consumers across the globe.  These newer countries are strategically positioning themselves to change Western civilization and America’s Super Power status.  

Antoine van Agtmael, author of The Emerging Markets Century, argues that these emerging countries are not a fad but a wave of things to come in the near future:   “Instead of being peripheral, as they have been since the first Industrial Revolution, key economies of the former Third World will soon re-emerge as the dominant economies of the future.”  

In fact, he notes that these emerging countries’ economies are growing at a rate nearly twice as fast as developed countries such as the United States and its Western allies. 

Gareth Jones and Jennifer George, authors of Contemporary Management, explain about the positives and negatives of entering global markets:  “As we have discussed, a more competitive global environment has proved to be both an opportunity and a threat for organizations and managers.” 

Businesses must build relationships that minimize their risks in global markets.   According to some estimates, these emerging markets will be nearly twice as large as the current developed economies.  Antoine van Agtmael suggests a different business shift:  “A new breed of companies will play a critical role in producing this shift; a select number of which truly deserve to be regarded as world class.” 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgfwzPRyVvw 

Strategic alliance is defined ‘as an agreement in which managers pool or share their organization’s resources and know-how with a foreign company, and how organizations share the rewards and risks of starting a new venue.’  However, these relationships must make sense over the long-term in order to sustain any meaningful value. High performing organizations cannot afford to misfire with the wrong strategic alliances.  Consequently, good organizations need to be deliberate in forging the right relationships in a global market.

 Discuss the concepts of strategic alliances in a global market.

 © 2013 by Daryl D. Green

Leveraging Talent Advantages During Disrupted Change

talent-management-photo

In his book 32 Ways to Be a Champion in Business, Earvin “Magic” Johnson notes how he developed his entrepreneurial spirit, took advantage of business opportunities, and used his economic power as a force for social change.

As a megastar with the Los Angele Lakers in the 80’s, Magic soon established himself as one of the best to ever play in the NBA.  Unlike other super-athletes who failed to make the transition from superdom after their prime, Magic used his athletic platform to give him access to some of the most successful business leaders in the world.

Loaded with the internal business drive he inherited from his father, Magic began to use his athletic instincts to his advantage in the business world.  Magic found power in building on his core strengths, not being consumed with his weaknesses:  “Rarely can you turn a weakness into a strength. Greatness is achieved by building on strengths and managing your weaknesses so they do not matter.”

Sadly, many professionals are also succumbed by their weaknesses too.  Rev. Joe Tolbert, a dynamic motivational speaker, warns about how culture influences our personal perceptions:  “The world teaches us to focus on weaknesses rather than strengths.” Given the tremendous financial turbulence in the world, today’s leaders need to focus on their talent management if they are to survive.  In this blog, I will examine the concept of talent management.

Talent management is a critical asset for high-performing organizations in a global economy. In fact, finding the best talent and retaining the best people in a business will eventually overtake many other advantages such as technology and capital.  Talent power will rule the future economy.

Talent management is defined as the process through which employers anticipate and meet their needs of human capital.  Yet, employees cannot dismiss talent management as only an employer’s duty.

Since the post-World War II era, workers have enjoyed a lifetime employment model where workers were assured of financial stability.  That is not the case today where younger workers can expect to change jobs frequently.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRjNHIGlykk

Peter Cappelli, author of Talent on Demand, outlines the dangers of poor talent management. In the past, with a good economy, American businesses could afford to mismanage their talent pool.  Today’s businesses often are short-sided and do not want to develop internal talent; instead, they are depending on others for their talent.

Cappelli explains, “Relying on outside hiring seems to fly in the face of the imperative that organizations should be engaged in knowledge management practices that capture and organize what they know about their operations to improve performance.”  However, these failures in managing this talent pool are often negative.  For example, having too many employees leads to layoffs and restructuring, while having to too few talented people leads to talent shortages.

John Wiedmer, Robert Wiedemer, and Cindy Spitzer, authors of America’s Bubble Economy, wisely forecasted the bursting of America’s bubble in 2008 while other economists were predicting economic fortune for all.  In fact, the authors now predict that an even bigger financial cliff is ahead for the world.  However, they advocate the importance of talent management: “The fall of America’s Bubble Economy will shake up many industries, drive businesses into bankruptcy, derail countless careers, and force dramatic numbers of workers into temporary unemployment.  It will also create thousands of successful companies that don’t currently exist, lead all sorts of people to rethink their life’s work, and make many entrepreneurs and investors fabulously wealthy.”

Most firms would prefer to invest in technology and automation to reduce their labor cost or outsource their labor needs abroad to obtain cheaper resources.  In the case of talent management, these short-term gains can be fatal.  Cappelli further argues for strengthening talent management in organizations: “Growing competition in product markets further weakens the traditional talent management model by sharply increasing the uncertainty associated with planning.”  Therefore, talent management becomes a vital component of corporate strategies for businesses that desire sustainable growth.

Discuss the concepts of talent management for today’s businesses.

© 2013 by Daryl D. Green

Globalization’s Unintended Consequences for Americans

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Even in fun, you should see the obvious.  Last fall, my wife and I went on a cruise to the Caribbean.  During this seven day adventure, we visited several countries that catered to our whims as Americans. 

Yet, the impacts of globalization were obvious on the cruise ship.  Both the passengers and the cruise staff appeared to operate within their own cultural preferences when not having to succumb to the dominant culture.  

There were several occasions where there was multiple languages being spoken in the same area which provided a different backdrop to me as an American.  We were all interconnected but yet apart. 

Global forces continue to change business operations and society as a whole.  The results of globalization mean that countries, businesses, and people become interdependent.  Organizations typically pass through four stages to international commerce: The domestic stage, the international stage, the multi-national stage, and the global stage. In search of more profitability, companies send many of their business functions abroad in an attempt to obtain cheaper resources (i.e. labor) for products or services.  

Should globalization change our thinking as Americans too? In the 1960s, the United States was a megastar internationally, accounting for 66.3% of worldwide foreign direct investments. As globalization began to open barriers to the free flow of commerce, non-U.S. firms sought to increase production activities to establish a presence in major foreign markets.  

Given these changes, things started happening.  In 2009, non-U.S. firms accounted for 14.1% of the stock foreign investments with the majority of these firms based in Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, India, and China.  Charles Hill, author of International Business, notes:  “The world may be moving toward a more global economic system, but globalization is not inevitable. Countries may pull back from their recent commitment to liberal economic ideology if their experiences do not match their expectations.”

 

Of course, globalization is not all good. America was once the center of all important business transactions internationally.  However, now there is an emergence of other key global partners.  Brazil, Russia, India, and China are becoming dominate providers of products and services abroad. 

With the threat of outsourcings, many Americans are worried about job opportunities.   Richard Daft, author of Management, further argued about the impacts of globalization: “For today’s managers, the whole world is a source of business threats and opportunities.” Should U.S. parents worry about their children’s future given the declining role of the United States in the global environment? 

Today’s American students are not doing better than their parents as it relates to education.  According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the U.S. ranks fourth worst among 29 developed countries for children obtaining a higher level of education than their parents.  

Only 21.6% of those 25 to 34 years old achieved a higher level of education than their parents in the United States. That compares to an OECD average of 36.8%.  Consequently, current and future U.S. workers will be vulnerable to the consequences of globalization.  Unfortunately, many politicians, executives, and media pundits do not have a long-term perspective about the opportunities and threats related to globalization.  They should! 

Discuss the opportunities and threats associated with globalizations and how emerging leaders can compete.

© 2013 by Daryl D. Green