Look to Digital Leaders for Inspiration, Not a Roadmap

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Post-World War II, Japan’s industrials’ leaders tapped W. Edwards Deming’s teachings to become a global manufacturing leader. Companies implemented a management system that empowered factory-floor workers and stressed the importance of continuously fixing problems to boost production quality, leading to Japan’s success. However, even the best management system can fail unless uniquely tailored and actively managed. For example, continuous improvement cannot work if management becomes out of touch with the front line. As businesses converge and transform around digital, many will be tempted to simply replicate the approach of digital leaders. But there is no panacea. When optimizing any system, companies must design and execute properly against their own business goals and culture. Successful leaders and companies must understand customers, build and cascade the right KPIs, resource properly, and actively manage processes within the context of their business.

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