The BigQ – leading for competitive advantage in the One Planet World

The BigQ – Leading for Competitive Advantage in the One Planet World

Download PDF version The Big Q

The One Planet World

   It is clear that the pressure we are putting the Earth under is leading to resource shortages, both in absolute terms and relative distribution. For many of us, our experiment in living a multiple planet existence on the only planet we have is coming to a close.

   This has far reaching consequences for how we will ‘manage for a One Planet World’ and the leadership skills it will need.

It is often said that the past is another country, when the ‘customer was king’ and the drive was ‘quality’, ‘integrated teams’ and the work of Deming, Crosby and the other quality gurus.

   Today we live in seemingly more complex world where the customer is no longer king, only the most important ‘stakeholder’ in a confusing mix of social, environmental and economic drivers.

The Little and the ‘Big Q’

   Up until now we have thought of Quality as the ‘Little Q’, as fitness for purpose rather than the ‘emergent property’ it is; the property a collection or complex system has, but which the individual members do not have – the ‘BigQ’

In the One Planet World we can no longer say that because a product or service satisfies, nay delights the customer, that it possesses ‘quality’ –  if it leads to a ‘loss to society’ overall, as Taguchi would say; through economic, social and environmental failures.

Ask Nature

This isn’t the way nature does things. Nature seeks to maximize the value added to society that results from its creation, use and disposal of eco-system products and services, without loss. This is the BigQ definition of quality we must aspire to. Quality is that which

Maximizes the value added to society that results from the creation, use and disposal of products and services at continually reducing loss.

This is a journey of integrated continual improvement, not a destination.

A Mind Model

Using the One Planet Equation Mind Model (OPE) 1 = P x C x RI, we are inevitably drawn to its consequence; the First Law of Sustainability ‘In a resource constrained environment, goods and services can only grow at the rate at which their resource intensity can be reduced beyond balancing the One Planet Equation’.

From this vantage point we can look dispassionately at the One Planet World and say what this means for us as suppliers and customers of its products and services.

Resource Intensity

At our starting point on our journey towards the One Planet World we have

1 = P x C x RI or 1 = 1 x 1 x 1

And as we move forward from this point, the 1 planet remains the same so the right hand product always has to equal one. The only way this can happen in a resource constrained environ-ment is if the Resource Intensity, (RI) is never more than 1/PC.

This is the key to future strategic leadership and competitive advantage. We must

◦       Seek to eliminate the cannots

◦       Base our business models on the musts.

◦       Work to continually reduce the Resource Intensity of the products and services we create, use and dispose of.

Don’ts and Do’s

From this we can say that in the One Planet World

◦       Energy, water and other resources will be constrained

◦       Human resources will be plentiful

And from these come the ‘we cannots’

◦       Create growth faster than we can reduce Resource Intensity (RI)

◦       Waste or ineffectively invest resources

◦       Freely transport resources or goods

◦       Use a linear system of creation, use and disposal

◦       Keep creating products and services that allow unlimited forms of self-actualization

◦       Invest in inflexible technology, infrastructure and buildings

◦       Design for obsolescence

◦       Use Energy and water   ineffectively

And the ‘we must

◦       Evolve our democratic processes to enable process learning and continual improvement

◦       Leave behind the reductionist, compliance approach to organizational management

◦       Think local

◦       Educate for RI minimization

◦       Continually reduce the RI of non-essential processes to zero (eliminate them)

◦       Replace energy with people (Ingenuity and creativity) in processes. These are your customers!

◦       Replace products with services

◦       Design for maintainability

◦       Design for reliability

◦       Complete the cradle to cradle loop as far as possible

◦       Mimic natural processes

◦       Group symbiotic processes together

◦       Work to continually reduce the losses in the essential processes remaining (improve quality).

Only in this way can we perceive

how we are to lead for competitive advantage in the One Planet World and how we are to manage and maintain that advantage.

The Double Headed Coin

In the Big Q One Planet World we have to see environmental and social failures as much a part of the costs of poor quality as economic ones. That quality and sustainability are the two sides of the same coin, toss it and you can only win.

Business in the 3rd Millennium

It is increasingly being recognised that we are coasting to the top of many resource curves, and are at or near the reality of the OPE deciding our futures

In managing for the future, businesses will have to cope with this reality. Fortunately humans are creative and enterprising and some organisations will survive and many more will be created.

Our past has been characterised as reductionist, but our future depends on our being able to shift paradigms to ‘systems thinking’, of not managing local time and costs but creating value and managing its flow through the system.

We have to work to continually reduce the combined ‘resource intensity’ of the essential processes that contribute to the flow of value through the system

This is best viewed as integrated, continual quality improvement – of reducing the loss in those processes – the BigQ.

Future Shock

We are suffering from what Alvin Toffler called ‘Future Shock’.

This being a state of confusion that arises when the past offers little guidance to dealing with the present and the future and we are in such a time, where the past offers few signposts to the future – when increasing demand for goods and services meets declining resources to create them.

Tomorrow’s businesses depend on their abilities to continually transform what they do and how they do it, and to achieve this they need a regeneration of the mindset that led them to this point in time.

They must have the ability to think beyond the boundaries of the organisation to the wider system and seek to attain their organizational outcomes at continually reducing resource intensity.

Creativity and Ingenuity

Deming created his circle of improvement, Plan, Do, Check, Act and it has stood the test of time but it doesn’t explicitly show the need for the creativity and ingenuity required to drive continual improvement, towards system sustainability.

Including these vital ingredients creates a Virtuous Circle that, using ‘in process control’ and a synergy of an entire organization’s stake-holders and their combined knowledge and skills, enables process learning, which after sensing and absorbing external signals will liberate the creativity and  ingenuity within to drive the process design in the direction of sustainability.

As the process becomes more sustainable, the losses are by definition minimised, reducing the need for appraisal costs and eliminating the costs and risks of internal and most importantly, external failures.

RI of Failure Demand

“Failure demand’ is caused by a failure to do something, or do something right for the customer and ‘value demand’ – is what the system exists to provide”, – John Seddon.

It is evident that such failure demand within systems will increase their Resource Intensity and in a resource constrained, One Planet World, these will increasingly be social and environmental failures.

Approaching their elimination from our current reductionist paradigm can only lead to the weakening of the links of Eliyahu Goldratt’s ‘Critical Chain’; which can only be strengthened by seeing these failures as part of a

an organization’s costs of poor quality; of its failure to live up to the Big Q.

Product or Service?

Tomorrow’s organisations must think how they can transform what they provide from a product to a service. They must think in terms of resource ‘stewardship’ and completing the ‘life cycle loop’.

All stakeholders must be ‘in the loop’ to maximize the ‘value added to society’ as the value flows around it; creating a synergy of knowledge and skills that will drive the Virtuous Circle.

As was ever the case we must be in the right place at the right time, doing the right thing, right. The anticipation of competitor and customer actions makes the difference between success and failure. Peter Drucker said “what the customer sees, thinks, believes and wants at any time determines if value is being created”

Instantaneous Adaptability

Leading in the One Planet World requires us to be almost instantaneously adaptable as individuals, with the vision and skills to create the same adaptability within the organizations we serve.

The resources available to us will be reducing over time and we must marshal them to continually increase the supply of goods and services that meet the essential emotional and spiritual needs of our customers.

It is unlikely that there will be many businesses supplying gratuitous wants in the One Planet World.

Tomorrow’s leaders must have the skills and ability to liberate the creativity and ingenuity in their people and other stakeholders that will enable and drive change.

Zero-based thinking

Zero-based thinking, as written about by Brian Tracy, is usually asking the question:

“Knowing what I know now, would I get into this business, job, or situation again?”

If the answer is yes, continue and improve; If the answer is no, get out of the situation as soon as possible and start from scratch.

As we coast over the top of the oil and other curves, this is the critical question we must all answer continuously, both professionally and personally to live the BigQ.

Managing for the Future

Tomorrow’s businesses must

◦       Satisfy emotional and spiritual need rather than gratuitous wants

◦       Satisfy essential needs in the lower orders of Maslow’s Pyramid

◦       Employ people rather than energy

◦       Create or use renewable energy and other resources

◦       Minimise water use or create the technologies that do

◦       Create and deploy climate stabilising and mitigation technologies

◦       Be increasingly local

◦       Provide a service rather than a product

◦       Practice lifecycle stewardship of their resources

◦       Manage value rather than cost

◦       Be able to operate at continually reducing resource intensity

Leading and managing for the future means understanding that the One Planet Equation and the world it is creating will arrive whether we choose to ignore it or not; that the BigQ is an opportunity and a challenging adventure.

Learning and Teaching

In the One Planet World we must learn what our customers are uniquely able to teach us if we are make maximum use of the resources available to us in the creation use and disposal of our goods and services.

This learning must be instantaneously part of our ‘Virtuous Circle’ of improvement to ensure continual process learning and Resource Intensity reduction.

Education for system RI reduction, the BigQ, will be an integral part of the organizational learning of those businesses, and the new ones created, that will successfully transition to the One Planet World

Leaders for ‘Future Advantage’ will

◦       Remember Deming’s adage that ‘Survival is not Compulsory’ for a business, or the human race.

◦       Understand that time is not on our side.

◦       See the future as a challenging adventure and not an impossible challenge.

Conclusion – Future Advantage

This article is predicated on four tenets

◦       That we are addicted to the hugely ineffective use of energy and other resources

◦       That most current discourse is centred on the ’symptoms’ our addiction causes – climate change, environmental, social and economic failures

◦       That human beings are, and have been, creative, ingenious and enterprising since the dawn of our species.

◦       That ’our’ future is ‘our’ problem – that the Earth will most probably manage very well without us.

Most other sources are concentrating on the problems our addiction is causing from a ’symptoms’ perspective, which appeals to many, as it gives the appearance of concern, whilst putting off action until tomorrow.

Many have a genuine desire to see immediate change but through a natural and emotional wish to deal with the symptoms are having their efforts dissipated.

The OPE makes clear the effect our addiction is having and makes explicit the action needed to create the One Planet World – to continually reduce the resource intensity of all the products and services we consume.

This is the real challenge we face if we are to create an economic future that is more equitable, whilst eliminating the risks of environmental and social failures in its creation.

We want as organizations, communities and societies to continually improve the ‘quality of our lives’ and this can only be achieved, logically, by continually improving the ‘quality’ of the products and services we create and consume over their life-cycle.

We must ‘Do the Right Thing’ – be effective in our use of resources and ‘Do it Right Every Time’ – be efficient in our use of those resources. This is a Journey, not a destination and has at its core the need for an effort of ‘quality improvement’ driven by human creativity that the world has not yet experienced – the BigQ

We face many challenges to achieving this, not least, the economic failure we are now experiencing and the natural response to ‘fight the last war with obsolete weapon’s’ but we have no option but to enter the future and we must envision what this future will be.

Human ingenuity and enterprise will ensure that some societies and organizations will exist and thrive as we attempt to ‘keep ahead of the oil curve.’

All future ingenuity, research, education, legislation and incentives must be directed to this end.

 ©Derek Deighton and Jackie Ansbro

Trailblazer Business Futures 2009



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s