A handful of key ideas are transforming business. Here's my
Top Six list:
No. 6. Total quality management.
Superior quality is a must for competitive success these days.
Problem is, everybody's doin' it (the Indonesians, Thais,
Argentines, et al.). Though imperative, topnotch quality is no
more than a player's pass to the ball field. Those who raise the
TQM banner above all others are making a big mistake. TQM is
about stuff that works unerringly. A big deal? Yes. The whole
No. 5. Re-engineering.
Today's re-engineering proponents match the religious zeal of
yesterday's quality fanatics. And the idea is damned important.
Decimating hierarchies via slash-and-burn strategies is one (big)
thing. Linking up activities horizontally and reinventing key
business processes _ i.e., re-engineering _is quite another. Even
revolutionary, as the gurus claim.
But it ain't the main game, at least as the game is usually
played. Like TQM, re-engineering is mostly internally focused _
i.e., streamlining. It's another necessary, but far from
sufficient, weapon in the management arsenal for the '90s.
No. 4. Leveraging knowledge.
Brains are in; heavy lifting is out. Thence the development of
knowledge is close to job one for corporations.
Maybe one in 10 (and I'm being generous) companies gets it. Of
those, only one in 10 is doing it right. The issue of the use of
technology is 5 percent bits and bytes (a spiffy e-mail system
that spans continents), 95 percent psychology and sociology (an
organization that dotes on sharing information rather than
No. 3. The curious, cannibalistic corporation.
In an increasingly crowded global marketplace, innovation is
the sine qua non of success. Corporations desperately need an
appetite for adventure, a passion for bold leaps into the
unknown. That means hiring the adventurous and the bold, even
when they break a lot of china, and shoving an exciting new
product onto the market, even if it gores your current cash cow.
It means cherishing your failures. And it may mean chopping your
company into firewood before the competition does: To keep his
Taiwan-based computer company fresh, Acer boss Stan Shih will
break it into 21 bits, then sell off majority shares of each
piece to local nationals. Bravo!
No. 2. The virtual organization.
It's the real thing, the umbrella that captures entirely new
ways for people to work together across time and space. …