Management for Quality in High-Technology Enterprises / Edition 1

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Overview

Contemporary management concepts, methods, and techniques for global, high-technology industries

The rapidly changing shape of technology industries requires a constant reevaluation of what it takes to manage such sophisticated corporations effectively. Management for Quality in High-Technology Enterprises explains how traditional "hard" management skills must be combined with new "soft" skills, why an expanding, global market necessitates an expanding, global mindset, and why a "focus on customers" must dominate all aspects of business.

Momentous external and internal changes to technology enterprises demand new management procedures. Externally, industries are moving toward globalization, increased mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, and outsourcing. Internally, the typical workforce has become significantly more knowledgeable and professional; the increase in knowledge workers in particular is changing the role and function of the contemporary manager. Drawing on their considerable experience as leaders in a high-technology corporation, Yefim Fasser and Donald Brettner show managers how to succeed in a shifting playing field.

The book's five parts, comprising twenty chapters, are:
* A Systemic Approach to Organizational Transformation
* Managing a Knowledge-Based Organization
* Managing in a Global Environment
* Some Aspects of Managing Quality
* Reshaping the Organizational Culture

Eschewing abstract, technical jargon, the authors explain in a lively, accessible fashion what managers must do to cope with the global changes in technology enterprises. Middle managers and engineers in high-technology manufacturing companies, as well as all professionals interested in improving their managerial knowledge and skills, will benefit from Management for Quality in High-Technology Enterprises.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"…the authors managed to describe all major aspects on which quality can be built. I use this book as a 'bible' for organizational renewal." (IIE Transactions on Operations Engineering)

From The Critics
Fasser and Brettner (both managers in a high-tech company) argue that globalization requires a new focus on customers and a blending of new and traditional management approaches. Focusing on the concrete rather than the abstract, they use examples, anecdotes, and case studies to illustrate contemporary management concepts. Special attention is paid to matters of organizational change, knowledge-based organizations, the global business environment, quality management, and organizational culture. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR
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Product Details

Meet the Author

YEFIM FASSER, PhD, is Director of Systems and Statistical Engineering at Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.

DONALD BRETTNER is Group Vice President at Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.

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Read an Excerpt

Management for Quality in High-Technology Enterprises


By Yefim Fasser Donald Brettner

John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0-471-20958-9


Chapter One

A Systems View of Organization

As an introduction to this chapter, we would like to use the old Indian story about the blind men and the elephant. The first blind man touched the elephant's side and said, "I think it is a wall." The second blind man touched the elephant's long trunk and said, "Oh, it is just like a snake!" The third blind man touched the elephant's smooth ivory tusk and said, "It's as sharp as a spear!" All three blind men perceived the elephant differently; depending on what part of the elephant they touched. We can say the same thing about an organization, especially when it grows large. Management and employees sometimes have difficulty comprehending the whole organization, and they mainly see it through the prism of their workplace. As an organization grows and becomes more global, more specialization occurs and it becomes more difficult to embrace and see the "whole elephant."

Management needs to make sure that every employee, regardless of what part of the organization he or she works in, can see the whole organization and feel that he or she is an important part of a larger whole. This will allow the employees to recognize that the purpose of their work is in context with and a part of the purpose of the whole organization, that their vision and goals are derived from and form a part of the organization's vision andgoals. Obviously, this will positively impact on the organization's performance and make its employees more participative.

Management must learn how to see the whole picture of the organization, which is continuously changing. This will have an impact on the leadership style and the way the organization operates. In this chapter, we want to introduce some metaphors that can be used as prisms through which to see an organization. This may help you to better understand the meaning of an organization and to develop new forms of management.

1.1 WHAT IS AN ORGANIZATION?

You probably are familiar with the frog experiment frequently described by psychologists. When a frog was dropped in a bowl of boiling water, the frog immediately jumped out. But when the frog was placed in a bowl of room-temperature water that was gradually heated up to boiling, the frog was not aware of the dangerous situation. This experiment can be used as an analogy for the process of organizational changes that occur over a number of years. Because the process is gradual, we usually don't react to these changes quickly enough. The organization today is not what it was yesterday, and tomorrow's organization may be absolutely different. Knowledge managers need to periodically review their way of thinking about an organization and have a deep understanding of it to build an extraordinary organization.

It may sound naive to ask a person who has spent ten or twenty years in an organization, "What precisely is an organization? How does it work?" However, ask these questions and you will see that the answers will be different and contradictory; they will show that the majority of people think too simply about the concept of an organization. Because of this, there are a lot of chronic problems in organizations that are not getting solved, even though we work on them very hard. "Organization" has become an everyday term, but we don't always recognize that its meaning is continuously changing. Some authors have even suggested that because of continuous increases in business complexity, organizations will not work in the future. In the introduction to the book Organization of the Future, Peter Drucker wrote, "A good many writers, seeing all these changes and all this turmoil, are writing of 'the end of organizations.' That, however, is the one thing we can predict with certainty will not happen...." Certainly there will be a strong need for organizations in the future, but the writing about "the end of organizations" should be perceived by management as a strong signal that the meaning and purpose of "organization" will be going through a lot of changes.

To better understand how to shape today's organizations and ensure that they meet our future needs, it is not as important to seek the best definition as it is to find a way to understand organizations from different perspectives. As a result, this will allow us to become aware of new insights and to create a wide and varied range of organizational improvement.

In his book Images of Organization, Gareth Morgan offers an interesting approach to the study of organizations by using metaphors. We at AMD adapted this approach as a way to analyze and improve our understanding of the concept of an organization. The study and application of Morgan's approach have allowed us to become more open-minded in the process of organizational transformation. In this chapter, we describe our view of the metaphorical concept of learning about "organization" and share some of our practices in this direction.

For most people a metaphor is regarded as a tool that helps us enhance the way we speak, but its importance is much greater than this. Metaphors greatly influence the way we think, the way we see things, and the way we act. In their book Metaphors We Live By, George Lakoff and Mark Johnson wrote, "We have found ... that metaphor is pervasive in everyday life, not just in language but in thought and action. Our ordinary conceptual system, in terms of which we both think and act, is fundamentally metaphorical in nature." Because of this, it is very important to understand how metaphor works and where its power comes from.

We usually use metaphor whenever we attempt to understand one element of experience in terms of another. For example, when we say, "This manager is a tiger," we place emphasis on the tigerlike aspects of the manager. The metaphor makes us see the manager in a distinctive, yet partial, way. In other words, by highlighting certain qualities of the manager, we tend to force other qualities into the background. As in our example, by drawing attention to the tigerlike strength or bravery, the metaphor makes us neglect the fact that the same manager may well also be a sloppy pig, a stubborn mule, etc. Our ability to comprehend a broader picture of the manager depends on our skill to see how these different qualities of the same manager can coexist and complement or contradict each other.

This way of thinking can be applied not only to individuals but also to an organization. For example, for many years we used to think about an organization as a machine. This metaphorical concept focuses our attention on an organization that is designed to achieve predetermined objectives and to run smoothly and efficiently like an oiled and well-tuned machine. Because of this kind of mind-set, we have developed a whole set of actions and behaviors that are influenced by the mechanistic way of thinking, moving the human part of an organization into a secondary role. The application of different metaphors to an organization will allow us to enhance the way we think and to broaden our understanding of the complexity and paradoxical character of an organization. Below we will see how different metaphors generate different ways of thinking, which in turn allows us to improve our way of designing and managing contemporary organizations.

1.2 SEEING AN ORGANIZATION FROM DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES

In 1999 we held a series of seminars on leadership for AMD employees, with a total attendance of more than 500 people from different countries. One of the workshops conducted at these seminars was designed to demonstrate the influence of metaphors on the way we think. To do this, we divided the participants into small groups, supplied them with a list of metaphors, and asked them to think of an organization by using a metaphor selected from the list or one of their own. It was interesting to see how the selected metaphor rapidly formed the group's way of thinking.

Each group started to think about an organization with categories that came from the metaphor they selected. For example, if they selected the metaphor "organization as a machine," their way of thinking about the organization was absolutely different than those groups who selected the metaphor "organization as an organism," etc. The effect of the metaphor on the way people perceive the concept of an organization was demonstrated with the same strength in all five countries where we conducted the seminars.

Without pretending to make any fundamental conclusions from the data we collected, we believe that the results of this mini-experiment suggest that if an organization accepts a particular metaphor, whatever it should be, the metaphor will influence the way people in the organization think and act. For example, if an organization sees itself as a community, it will live and act as a community, using all elements inherent in a community. Because of this, it is very important to make sure that organizations use metaphors that conform to the internal and external environments of an enterprise and match the needs of the people who work for them.

A large variety of metaphors can be applied to different aspects of organization. However, here we will offer the reader a selected number of metaphors that we feel deserve more attention (see Fig. 1-1). Two metaphors-"organization as a machine" and "organization as a living entity"-will be described in more detail and compared with each other. We will only give a brief description of some other metaphors such as "organization as a symphony orchestra" and "organization as a community."

1.2.1 Thinking of an Organization as a Machine

When we design, buy, or use a machine, we always know what we want it to do for us. We have a purpose, and we want the machine to serve our purpose. We tune it up, lubricate it properly, plug it in, and let it run. If something goes wrong, we fix it. If a part wears out, we replace it. If the machine starts giving us frequent problems, we may throw it out and buy a new one. The same thing applies when we think about an organization as a machine. We design the product, establish the process, form the structure, hire and train people, and require them to perform according to policies and procedures. We know the input and expected output. We try to control the overall business processes, and if something goes wrong, we investigate and correct the problem. If a person is not performing properly, we try to "fix the problem," and if this does not work, we replace the person. The purpose of the organization is to make money.

This is a simplified description of the mechanistic way of thinking that has driven many organizations since the Industrial Revolution. Russell L. Ackoff called this period "the machine age." In his book Creating the Corporate Future, he wrote, "I believe we are leaving an age that can be called the Machine Age. In the Machine Age the universe was believed to be a machine that was created by God to do His work. Man, as part of that machine, was expected to serve God's purposes, to do His will...." This metaphorical concept-the universe as a machine-strongly influenced our way of thinking. We started to mold our world in accordance with mechanistic thinking. We started to see organizations as machines and people who work there as its parts. Gradually, our work became dehumanized. This created many problems that organizations have faced and are trying to resolve without recognizing that the source of most of these problems came from the mechanistic thinking.

This is not to say that the metaphorical concept "organization as a machine" should not be used. This is one of the oldest concepts, which has brought enormous benefits, increasing organizational capabilities a thousand fold. The problem is that by becoming mechanistically oriented, we act like machines and lose our focus on the human aspects of the organization.

To make a point here, we intentionally "purified" the image of the metaphor "organization as a machine." In real life, organizations use a combination of different metaphors that make the whole organization less mechanistic. McDonald's is a typical example of a mechanistic organization. All the facilities look the same. The product made in these facilities is also similar. Every franchise has the same set of policies and procedures, and they perform like a great machine. However, this does not mean that McDonald's is not innovative and does not take care of its people. McDonald's is also a great example that shows that it is possible in one organization to apply the mechanistic model in some of its functions and at the same time apply different metaphorical models in its other functions. The art of contemporary leadership is to tap the strength of mechanistic thinking and, at the same time, recognize its weaknesses and seek new ways to organize enterprises.

1.2.2 Thinking of an Organization as a Living Entity

Accepting the metaphorical concept "an organization as a living entity" introduces an absolutely new way of thinking that is in contrast with the mechanistic view. It is normal to think that someone owns a machine, but these days it is difficult to imagine that a living organization has an owner. Living beings communicate with and learn from each other. They have their own purpose, which is linked with the organization's purpose, and they have their own vision, which is aligned with the organization's vision. The employees in a living entity grow together with the organization because they are the organization. Employees in a living organization are empowered to do their job. They cannot be controlled like machines. They also participate in the decision-making process and have their own identity.

The metaphorical concept of a living organization will lead you to think about it as a company that has members who subscribe to a set of common values and who believe that the goal of the company supports them and gives them conditions to achieve their own individual goals. Both the employees and the organization have the same driving motive-they want to survive. To survive, they need to grow and expand their potential. We could say that in a living organization there is an unwritten contract between the individual and the company that they will help each other to grow, reach their potential, and expand their working life span.

Using the metaphorical concept "an organization is a living entity" totally changes the viewpoint of the organization's purpose. As Arie De Geus wrote in his book The Living Company, "It probably doesn't matter very much whether a company is actually alive in a strict biological sense, or whether the 'living company' is simply a useful metaphor....

Continues...


Excerpted from Management for Quality in High-Technology Enterprises by Yefim Fasser Donald Brettner Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Introduction.

PART I: A SYSTEMIC APPROACH TO ORGANIZATIONAL TRANSFORMATION.

Chapter 1. A Systems View Of Organization.

Chapter 2. Systems: A General Concept.

Chapter 3. The Total Continuous Process of Improvement and Innovation (TCPI?) Marco System.

PART II: MANAGING A KNOWLEDGE-BASED ORGANIZATON.

Chapter 4. Organizational Learning.

Chapter 5. Systemic Problem Solving (SPS) as an Effective Way of Learning.

Chapter 6. Knowledge-Based Innovation.

Chapter 7. Knowledge Managers and Knowledge Workers.

Chapter 8. Knowledge Transfer and Knowledge Management.

PART III: MANAGING IN A GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT.

Chapter 9. On the Road to Globalization.

Chapter 10. Managing Mergers, Acquisitions, and Other Strategic Alliances.

Chapter 11. Globalization and Culture.

PART IV: SOME ASPECTS OF MANAGING QUALITY.

Chapter 12. Some Fundamental Concepts of Managing Quality.

Chapter 13. Managing Variation: A Requisite for Quality.

Chapter 14. Some Major Quality Initiatives.

Chapter 15. Achieving High Quality Through Transformational Changes.

PART V: RESHAPING THE ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE.

Chapter 16. The System of the Organizational Culture.

Chapter 17. Managing the Core of the Organizational System.

Chapter 18. Values, Behavioral Standards, and Business Ethics.

Chapter 19. Symbols, Symbolic Actions, and Metaphors.

Chapter 20. Understanding an Organization's Behavior.

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