Quality And Innovation – The Rat Race!!!

The electronics world has changed rapidly in the last few years. Some companies pioneered the changes, while others were too slow to adapt to the fast changing trends and requirements. Not long ago, Japanese companies ruled the market like lions in the jungle. Companies like sharp, Sony, Panasonic and Nintendo were the biggest and unbeatable brands in the entire industry. Now, on the contrary these market kings have lost their market share drastically.

What could be the reason behind their downfall? I have noticed a similar trend in Japanese companies and in someway have the same characteristics. However, these well known companies still follow the highest quality standards and produce highest-quality hardware devices. But the market demand now is not limited to quality only. Japanese companies were slow to catch with competitors with regards to design, operating system and software technology. For instance: Sony was the market king in 1990 when it introduced ‘The Walkman’. At one time, was the ‘must have’ gadget for everyone like the apple iPods currently.  Just in a couple of years Apple managed to shake off and challenge Sony’s position in the market with their IPhones and iPods. Sony’s fell, profits shrunk and once one of the best image in the world is battered.

I believe the major downfall of Japanese brands is due to the fact that they were slow to realize the changing demands and the need to improve software rather than only focus on quality hardware.  From a technological perspective, the explanation of how that happened is straightforward and that apple always was, is very good at software and Sony never was. Sony understood music technology but they were bad at software and they didn’t do what apple did. That is making use of computers and Internet. They created ITunes which made accessing and syncing music to apple devices easily. The Walkman was a success in their era when it did not have to interact with computers.

As discussed in class, acquiring Six Sigma, ISO or other quality certification does not guarantee profits. These methodologies are used to help businesses reduce failures in quality. Talking about Sony, they also had obtained certification under ISO 9001 for all sites manufacturing electronic products yet faced backlash from competing brands. Fast pace dynamic fulfillment of consumer market should be a big factor of management department to maintain the success of a company. Big portion of company’s budget should be allocated for R&D while maintaining the quality of their current successful products.

Do you agree that Sony was too slow to adapt to the fast changing trends?

PS: I think Apple is also slowing down its innovation pace. Watch the video and share your viewshttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyWSEwKPo8s

Quality Pioneer in Trouble !!!


When we discuss quality management philosophies, Toyota and Total Quality Management is always discussed. The name Toyota was synonymous with quality because they pioneered and mastered the philosophy of TQM. In management 301, TQM was introduced as the “Toyota Way”. So why is toyota in trouble? What happened?? what went wrong?

The Toyota quality lapse officially started in sep 2009 with Toyota recalling 3.8million US vehicles due to floor mat problems causing the accelerator to get stuck. Next official recalling was announced in 2010 for the same problem but this time without the presence of floor mats and included 4 models, Rav4, Corolla, Camry and highlander. Further more, the same year, jan 2010, Toyota temporarily suspended sales and production of the models involved in the pedal issue. Next on February 9 2010, Toyota recalls 437,000 prius and other hybrid vehicles worldwide to fix break issues. Same year, on 12th February recalls about 8000 tacoma pickup trucks to fix propeller shift problems that cause the vehicle to lose control.

Experts say that the company expanded rapidly over the past decade to capitalize on the strong demand but failed to train staff to meet the company’s high quality standards. Part of the reason for the quality lapse is directed towards the growing demand and shifting of production outside japan.  Koji Ando, An analyst at Advanced Research Japan says, “Toyota knows it can never go back to the things used to be. It is still going to cut costs; it is still going to localize manufacturing. Furthermore, Toyota is known as a follower of Demings philosophy which states improving quality lead to reduced costs due to less rework, fewer mistakes, fewer delays and better use of machine-time and material which in turn improves productivity. Which will furthermore lead to larger market share and more business. Again the same question, what happened?

If Deming’s was asked, he would say,” 94% of all the problems in the workplace are problems not with the workers, and not their performance but with the SYSTEM.”

What could be the reason behind the massive quality lapse in toyota production system? are the labors to be blamed or the management?