Ayman Jawhar’s picture

By: Ayman Jawhar

Product management as we’ve known it up until now—as a limited function or role—is effectively dead. However, viewed as a culture, product management is thriving. I predict “product culture” will be central to the future of work in digital economies. Yet knowledge workers, executives, and business educators unfortunately remain indebted to the old paradigms of product. They’re lagging far behind.

That was the argument I made in my previous article, to which quite a few readers took offense, with comments like:
“IT folks should stop complicating product management as if they were the first people to discover it!”
• “Disingenuous. Product function is an evolution, not a revolution.”
• “This is a good example of the nonsense published about the product.”

These strong sentiments were welcome because they’re a reminder that, in scientifically rationalizing work, we have forgotten how deeply personal and subjective it is. We also limit the power of collective work if we treat it only as a virtual assembly line between functions, roles, and organizational matrices.

Esteve Garriga’s picture

By: Esteve Garriga

There are many important issues to be considered in the food industry, such as consumer tastes, environmental impact, and economic aspects, but the most important is food safety.

Although current food safety management system (FSMS) certification schemes around the world are highly effective, I believe it’s desirable to have a single agreed-upon FSMS certification that would harmonize various scheme requirements. Such a system would help reduce the auditing burden for companies that are certified to several FSMS schemes.

The most widespread FSMS certification schemes

In 1996, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) was created by UK retailers (Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, and others) to harmonize food safety standards across the supply chain. The first edition of the BRC Global Standard (BRCGS) for Food Safety was issued in 1998, and is now in its eighth edition. Since then, sector-focused standards have been published covering different stages in the food supply chain (e.g., storage and distribution, packaging materials). Today, more than 28,000 sites are operating under such schemes worldwide.

Mark Schmit’s picture

By: Mark Schmit

During the Sept. 18, 2020, session of the “National Conversation with Manufacturers,” our three West Coast manufacturing leaders on the panel kept coming back to their critical need for skilled workers.

The conversation was one in a series of 11 virtual listening sessions hosted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP). The purpose of the listening sessions was learning how small and medium-sized manufacturers across the country have been handling the near-term jolt from the Covid-19 pandemic and preparing for success in the long-term.

Multiple Authors
By: Lucca Henrion, Duo Zhang, Victor Li, Volker Sick

One of the big contributors to climate change is right beneath your feet, and transforming it could be a powerful solution for keeping greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere.

The production of cement, the binding element in concrete, accounted for 7 percent of total global carbon dioxide emissions in 2018. Concrete is one of the most-used resources on Earth, with an estimated 26 billion tons produced annually worldwide. That production isn’t expected to slow down for at least two more decades.

Given the scale of the industry and its greenhouse gas emissions, technologies that can reinvent concrete could have profound impacts on climate change.

Andrew Schutte’s picture

By: Andrew Schutte

Industrial engineers design, develop, test, and evaluate integrated systems for managing industrial production processes. Functions include quality control, human work factors, inventory control, logistics and material flow, cost analysis, and production coordination. These and other facets are usually part of the job description when being hired.

Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 10-percent growth rate among industrial engineers from 2019 to 2029, the attrition rate is anecdotally just as high; that equates to 100-percent attrition in a decade. Nowhere is the dissatisfaction and attrition of industrial engineers as great as in the engineer-to-order manufacturing space.

Yoav Kutner’s picture

By: Yoav Kutner

Like business-to-consumer (B2C) ecommerce, business-to-business (B2B) ecommerce allows customers to purchase parts and supplies via an online portal. The difference is that in B2B ecommerce, both the customers and suppliers are businesses, and the customers may or may not be the end users of the product being purchased. In addition, a B2B solution needs to let customers submit a request for quote (RFQ), negotiate, and do more of the back-and-forth that occurs in business transactions.

Despite the fact that purchasing is done online—a digital solution for many B2B online platforms—a lot of the back-end processes are still done manually, not much differently than in a brick-and-mortar business. An online order might need to be copied and pasted into an Excel spreadsheet or even an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, for instance. Ditto for getting customer information into a customer relationship management (CRM) system or generating quotes. This manual back-end work keeps both customer and supplier from operating efficiently, introducing errors into orders, or even delaying orders.

Nicholas Wyman’s picture

By: Nicholas Wyman

It’s a new year, with a new president and new opportunities to boost modern apprenticeship programs in the United States that can help get people back to work and stimulate the economy.

Getting people into apprenticeships has never been more vital, as job losses caused by the pandemic continue to affect millions. Young people in particular have been hit hard, as they’re most likely to be employed in retail and hospitality, two sectors essentially shut down during the Covid-19 crisis. Speed is vital. We can’t risk losing an entire youth cohort to sustained joblessness that could affect their entire lives. Funding new apprenticeships not only provides jobs now, but also generates high, long-run gains in skills, productivity, and earnings for young workers and companies.

Luckily, there are proven strategies for creating apprenticeships and getting young people employed. We just need to look abroad: Australia and the United Kingdom have strong apprenticeship programs and moved quickly to protect apprenticeships when pandemic-related job losses hit last summer. Their experience highlights four strategies that could be adopted by the Biden Administration and funded through the next stimulus program.

Gleb Tsipursky’s picture

By: Gleb Tsipursky

Stakeholder engagement is one of the more critical aspects of leadership, whether you’re a team leader or a member of a cross-functional team trying to lead team members to focus on quality. Stakeholders can be anyone from your colleagues to suppliers to business partners, and your relationship with them is dynamic and can change over time.

There are many advantages to identifying and getting to know your stakeholders, and even more disadvantages to not engaging with them. Failing to understand their needs can lead to blind spots for managers and executives, which can have disastrous effects, such as low employee morale or a dismal bottom line.

On the other hand, effective engagement can result in increased productivity and stronger financials. We can use research-based strategies to notice such blind spots so we can overcome them.

Jose Luis Alvarez’s picture

By: Jose Luis Alvarez

Alexander Hamilton, one of the United States’ founding fathers, famously called energy the most important characteristic of the executive branch of government. “A feeble Executive implies a feeble execution of the government,” he said in the Federalist Papers. “A feeble execution is but another phrase for a bad execution; and a government ill executed, whatever it may be in theory, must be, in practice, a bad government.” Contemporary corporate CEOs should heed Hamilton’s warning.

No matter how capable CEOs might be, they need the help of a trusted team: an executive committee of senior managers who report directly to them, meeting regularly to help shape the collective work of the enterprise. CEOs and their executive committees (excos) are the veritable energy reactors of organizations.

However, my counseling experience indicates widespread dissatisfaction with these committees among both leaders and members. Research shows that the problems faced by excos are so widespread that effective teams are rare, and work well only when they fit the CEO’s leadership style.

Andrew Peterson’s picture

By: Andrew Peterson

Manufacturing robotics is to some extent following a similar path of advances to those in machining and fixed automation systems. Though the ROI is most easily measured in efficiency and cost savings, manufacturers are looking for robotic technology to help them resolve a pain point in their operation or to create new opportunities. It might be to link processes more efficiently or eliminate the need to outsource a specific function or two.

The growth path for small and medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs) with robotics is therefore increasingly focused on applications and added capabilities, not just efficiency and continuous improvement. The key to increasing adoption of robotics in SMMs is making the robots easier to use and reuse.

In essence, adoption is dependent upon robots having more human-like dexterity and self-control.

NIST Labs has designs on making robots easier to use

Scientists and engineers at NIST Labs are working to close a significant gap between cutting-edge technology and what is currently deployed on many manufacturing shop floors. This is largely due to the lack of measurement science to verify and validate emerging novel research and thus reduce the risk of adoption.

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