Circles of Communication - Org

The Iceberg of Ignorance Reconstructed

The Iceberg of Ignorance was published way back in 1989 by Sidney Yoshida. It contended that front line workers know 100% of the problems, supervisors 74%, middle managers 9%, and executives a measly 4%. Thus, it was popularized that executives were only aware of the “tip of the iceberg” when it came to problems in […]


The Iceberg of Ignorance Debunked

The iceberg of ignorance was first published in 1989 by consultant Sydney Yoshida. (I wrote about it here.) It led to the popular notion that front line workers knew 100% of the problems, supervisors were aware of 74%, middle managers were aware of 9% and senior executives were only aware of 4% of the problems. […]

Innovation Effectiveness and W. E. Deming

“It’s not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” – W.E. Deming The importance of innovation to business success continues to grow rapidly. In a survey of U.S. executives, 84% said their strategy is “very dependent” or “extremely dependent” on innovation for long term success; up from 67% just 3 years prior. And it’s not […]


3 Simple Things Continuous Improvement Leaders Can Leverage for Greater Success

Although there are success stories to be found, numerous articles in the past year alone continue to highlight the high failure rate of continuous improvement initiatives like lean, six sigma, agile, and the like (70%). But here are three things continuous improvement leaders could leverage for better outcomes. Learn and leverage the “natural strategy” approach. […]


The Iceberg of Ignorance Revisited

Many will be familiar with the concept of the “iceberg of ignorance”. It was popularized in 1989 by a consultant named Sidney Yoshida. Yoshida conducted a study that concluded that top management was only aware of 4% of the problems in a company… only the tip of the iceberg. It was a popular concept that […]


Silos, End-to-End, and a Glimmer of Hope

Some years ago I was asked to take a look at whether or not Kraft should divest a particular manufacturing operation. The operation was on the supplier end of the value chain and senior management was not favorably inclined to being that vertically integrated, especially considering the slim margins, and wanted to sell it. I […]


The Forces Blocking Value Chain Innovation

So, you’ve got an initiative like lean or six sigma up and running –check. You’ve seen some tangible benefits –check. While it has been harder than expected, you’re still moving forward –check. Senior management just increased your goals well beyond your capabilities –check… whoa, what? Although the debate continues to rage around the various benefits […]


The Basic Need for Purpose in Work

The story is told1 that in 1944 Allied forces bombed and destroyed a prison camp factory in Hungary that was distilling human waste into alcohol to help fuel Hitler’s war effort. For the prisoners, mild relief turned to disgust at the thought of rebuilding the camp when the guards forced them to carry the rubble to […]


How Employees are Rewarded for Low Value Work

Several years ago, a marketing group we were working with was complaining about all the busywork that was keeping them from doing the difficult, more important work of growing the business. An assessment of where they were spending their time confirmed their assertions. So, one action we took was to automate the administrative task of […]


Designers, PLM, and the Problem of Change

In only one brief interview with a new product creative designer, it became clear the consumer products company was going to have significant problems with a strategic transformation. Hearing the reactions of senior leaders to the anonymous interview results only confirmed suspicions: they were on track for failure. It was a high priority strategic initiative […]

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