The Lululemon Management Model

Ever since I discovered Lululemon my first year out of high school, I have been obsessed with their athletic wear.  Because the clothing is way out of my price range, I will admit I only have a few items from the brand. However, the items I do own, I absolutely love. Maybe the Lululemon fit, style, and quality has stolen the hearts of all is customers (as it has mine) and that is why they have such a profitable business. However, I think much of the success is credited to their very strategic business model.

There are three distinct practices that I believe really sets Lululemon apart from its competitors. The first is empowerment. Lululemon stores are not meant to be simply a carbon copy of the some model store. Each manager of the individual Lululemon locations operates their store as if it were their own small business.  The individual stores are not micromanaged by corporate. Instead, the Lululemon is highly decentralized.

Furthermore, managers provide monthly feedback to the design departments. These correspondences between the individual store operators and the design team ensure that ideas and preferences of the managers have an opportunity to influence the next generation of products.

This brings me to my next point: the community-focused approach of Lululemon. Each Lululemon store is expected to not just merely exist in its surrounding but to integrate itself into the community. One way our local Lincoln Park location does this is by offering free yoga classes to on Saturday mornings. Hospitable services, such as the free yoga sessions, build brand loyalty while also facilitating a great service to their community.

The third distinct practice of Lululemon makes them so successful is keeping their inventory extremely scarce. Did you know that Lululemon is able to sell ninety-five percent of their inventory at full price? How many other retail stores do you know that can say that?

Lululemon never has a huge amount of inventory on site because the main distributor does not over produce their products.  But how do they know what is the ideal inventory? Well, the customers tell them. That’s right, some old fashion listening is the secret behind finding the ideal amount of inventory to have in store. The location of the folding tables is thoughtfully places neat the fitting rooms so employees are able to listen in on what their shoppers like and don’t like about the product.  If several people are complaining about an awkward fit of a particular shirt, the employees are trained to notify their manager would can avoid ordering any more of that item.  The company also is able to learn from their mistakes and therefore, if all goes as planned, avoid making such mistakes again.



Black Friday vs. Black Thursday !!!



It’s that time of the year again Black Friday deals. I never understand why so many people sleep outside all night to get something that is limited to very low number like five or ten pieces and the person there whose number eleven just got nothing but waited all night in cold weather. Last year I decided to try and shop at midnight I went to Macy’s waited in line for about two hours and when we finally got into the store I honestly didn’t find any good deals so I think it was not worth it for me to wait in cold weather for noting. I just wanted to experience it and I did but I don’t think I would repeat it again. Well I found this interesting article that talks about opening as early as 8:00pm on Thursday this year that means Thanksgiving will be cut short for a lot of people. Wal-Mart was the first one to announce that they will be opening as early as 8:00pm this year. And this is when competitors come in to place Sears also announced they will open at 8:00pm. Now Wal-Mart has to worry about their competitors and what they are offering to beat their prices.

Wal-Mart also announced that they will have enough inventory from 10:00-11:00pm for customers to get the same deal as they would get in store online. Now inventory managing will be a big part of this they will have to make sure that inventory will remain available and the numbers of inventory are accurate so that no problems will occur with consumers. Wal-Mart has to make sure that their entire inventory will come on time with correct amount to avoid any problems. The best way to make sure inventory is accurate is to forecast their inventory and make sure the demand numbers are correct. Some customers are already unhappy because they will have to cut their Thanksgiving with family and friends early to go shopping so that’s why inventory has to be done correctly so that customers will be satisfied. But what happens to those poor employees who want to spend some quality time with their family and friends on Thanksgiving Day? Now they have to come to work early but will the quality of employees towards customers be the same? Of course not employees will be unhappy and quality will go down. This is where Wal-Mart and Sears need to work on quality management system so that they will make sure their employees are happy so that customers will be satisfied and happy also. So maybe paying them double on that day will make their employees happier. So opening early is good but Wal-Mart and Sears need to make sure that quality, and inventory is in good shape for customers to be happy and for them to make good profit.

Do you think opening early this year is a good idea? And will quality and inventory be in good shape or will there be a problem?




scratches on the iPhone 5

How important is a small scratch on an iPhone? In our class, one topic that interested me was product quality and its many definitions, dimensions, and quality systems. Through vacation trips and experiences around the world, I have obtained all kinds of products not knowing much about quality comparisons. I did not realize that there was a quality system like ISO 9000 that companies acquired. Learning this will help me better examine products before making the purchase.

On, there was an article that talked about the struggles in quality control. Thousands of workers for the production of iPhone 5 strike over workload and pressure. China Labor Watch claims that those on strike are mostly from the “onsite quality control” line. Workers not only have regular long hours but they need to work on holidays as well. On top of this, the precision and demand of product quality has pushed workers too far. Indentation standards are 0.02mm and workers did not have training for corresponding skills making it extremely hard for employees to meet the standards. Fights have started causing several quality control inspectors to be hospitalized.

Learning from the puppet production, the number of defects is high when you do not regulate and check on each worker. In my opinion, to ensure that every customer receives a product with no defects, standards need to be set high. I think it is reasonable for indentation standards to be 0.02mm. Do you think these standards are set too high? What do you think about this strike?

Hurricane Sandy’s Effect on Shopping


After the devastating hit on the American East coast from Hurricane Sandy, so many conflicts have risen. Not only are people left without power and home, but business owners are having a tough time figuring out how and when to get products shipped to them from across the Atlantic. As mentioned in the article, “The New York area’s port system is the largest on the East Coast, and the third largest in the nation. Last year, it handled $208 billion in cargo”. Not only are the ports destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, but other modes of transportation are effected as well. The train rails, for example, are covered in debris and damaged by the debris.

As a result, many business owners are not receiving any of their shipments that were requested because there is no mode of transportation to reach them. Also, the holiday season is when entities gain the most profits. This has a huge ripple effect because if businesses are not getting any of their goods, then their customers and business to business transactions won’t receive products needed. In turn, no business will get sufficient profits and customers will not receive their desired good. I can only imagine the frustration on everyone’s minds.

With all this trouble, there is some positive attitude coming from business owners. Robert Van Sickle, the owner of Polka Dog Bakery, states that he considers, “Repackaging the [dog] biscuits and donating proceeds to storm relief efforts.” This is a thoughtful gesture that many business should think about keeping in mind. If owners are not able to get parts of products to complete their good, then he or she should donate it to those who could be in need. This way, not only are they giving back to the community, but the community will recognize their effort in helping, which could result in gaining customers and gaining loyalty from their current customers.

This scenario helps me link back to the leadership triad. Business need to work with the foundation/ condition they are given to try to squeeze as much profit as possible. If people don’t have power, maybe they need to post up printed ads all around the city to get the attention of consumers or have employees going from one house to another giving away coupons to their merchandise, just so they can bring customers through the door and allow those who have a limited budget to be able to purchase merchandise that he or she wants. This results to a customer focus by creating such strategic planning. With this storm, businesses need to focus and think about their local customers more than ever by giving the helping hand and showing how appreciated he or she is for being a loyal customer.

What are your thoughts about the situation? What are some strategies you would utilize to bring customers into your store to get rid of inventory and make as much revenue as possible without having any new products coming in?


To read more about the article visit this link:

ISO gives NEI a big WIN

The NEI company just announced that they achieved the ISO 13485:2003 Medical Device Quality Management System certification for their main facility in Texas. The ISO 13485:2003 is to “facilitate harmonized medical device regulatory requirements for quality management systems, and its requirements are unique to organizations building medical devices”. The company is already ISO 9001:2008 certified.

NEI is a global leader in providing application platforms, development solutions and lifecycle support services for software developers. The article mainly examines the high standards that they set for their medical software devices and services. They play a huge role in IT software service to the healthcare industry all over the world.

In order for NEI to receive this certification, they had to develop and then implement quality management policies for medical devices. The standard for the ISO 13485:2003 requires any company to consistently provide medical devices that meet the customer and the regulatory requirements. In the article, it seemed as though NEI welcomed audits and management evaluations because they work with medical devices. John Gauthier, the director of quality assurance at NEI said, “NEI recognizes the strict parameters and regulatory requirements involved in medical device manufacturing and has developed rigorous practices in support of those metrics”.

The IT standards that NEI sets for the healthcare industry is important. I believe that they should be keeping those standards high because of what industry they are in.  They also seem to take pride in their standard of quality, which must mean that it is excellent. Those medical devices that they create should have high quality because will essentially be used in dealing with people’s lives.  It is said in the article that they intensely listen to their customer base so that they can keep improving and changing with the times. This kind of close attention to detail will benefit NEI in the  future because their customers know that they can count on them to maintain the best quality management.

The link to the article as well as a link to NEI’s website is below:

First Time for Everything: NYC Marathon Cancelled

Due to the horrific damage that Hurricane Sandy has done to New York this past week, ING, the marathon’s leading sponsor since 2003, has been forced by the city of New York to cancel the long-awaited marathon that has held over 40,000 runners and 500 sponsors every year since it began. This will be the first time that the marathon has been canceled in over 70 years and has caused outrage among sponsors and consumers alike.

Although ING was originally planning on continuing to have the marathon even with the unbelievable damage that New York has experienced, public outcry about the unethical issues that ING as well as other sponsors are getting themselves into by ignoring the hurricane’s damage and continuing the marathon has been abundant. Because of this, ING has been forced to cancel the marathon and has put itself in a sticky situation when it comes to the revenue and promotion they and other sponsors will be losing because of it.

As we learned in class, the project triangle consists of time, cost, and performance. The time it took to plan a New York City Marathon is over a full year. The cost to get the over 500 sponsors to sponsor the event is over 1 million dollars, and performance is based on how smoothly the marathon runs. With these three contributing factors as well as many others, I understand why ING was hesitant to cancel the NYC marathon, but understand why the public was outraged as well. The amount of money and planning that went into making the NYC marathon what it is every year means that a lot of people are counting on it, and I believe this is why ING was reluctant to cancel it right away.

Furthermore, in a desperate final effort to save themselves from looking unethical, ING decided to donate $500,000 dollars to aid victims of the hurricane, and donate the generators that were going to be set up around the marathon for the runners, to the millions of people who need help in New York. While this was the right decision, thousands of runners, both from the U.S. and internationally, who have been training for this marathon for over a year, are devestated and feel disrepected that they were told about the cancellation last minute. As customers of the marathon for a number of years, the customer expectation for most of the runners is that they would be running no mater what.

Overall, I believe that this was the right decision to make and while people are still so angry at ING for not canceling it right away, I understand why ING didn’t.

How do you think this will affect ING’s future revenue? Do you think ING made the ethical choice to cancel the marathon? What would you do as president of ING to please both the runners and the people of New york that were affected by the storm?

Which Japanese company should I analyze for quality management, Atlas Copco or Mr. Sparkle?

Even though I am a big Simpsons fan, I will have to choose Atlas Copco. I will analyze an Atlas Copco’s Japanese division’s emphasis on quality, which in turn is related to how the factory addresses prevention cost.

My primary source for this post is this two and a half minute video, entitled “A career at Atlas Copco: Quality Control engineer.” The interviewee’s name is Shinpei Muto and he works in an Atlas Copco surface drilling factory in Japan.

A career at Atlas Copco: Quality Control engineer

As the 34 second mark shows, Atlas Copco’s first priority is customer satisfaction. Furthermore, at the 39 second mark, the mission of this factory “is to provide world-class safety and top quality, as well as an environmentally friendly product and service” (AtlasCopcoGroup). One way the factory addresses customer satisfaction, and thus their mission, is through quality control. As the quality control engineer, Mr. Muto’s duties include inspecting the “incoming parts[,] as well as the final check on the product before shipping” (AtlasCopcoGroup).

Mr. Muto’s job is important because in order for the customer to be satisfied, the customer must receive a fully functioning, Atlas Copco drill. The customers presumably have high expectations as they are expecting a top quality drill equipped with world class safety. As our book’s pages 190-191 discusses, quality improves reputation and reduces the risk of product liability. At the bare minimum, Atlas Copco wants to maintain its reputation as a world class company. At the 1:16 mark, Mr. Muto raises the concern that a product with a loose bolt could be a serious problem. The serious problem is of course costly litigation that will most likely involve the international courts. Mr. Muto wants to prevent this because product liability lawsuits will hurt the Atlas Copco image, as well as cost him his job.

At 1:38, we learn that Atlas Copco provides the opportunity for employees to take 40 hours of training per year. From this fact, I assume Atlas Copco as a whole does this and not solely Mr. Muto’s factory. By offering training, Atlas Copco is addressing one of the four major categories of costs that are associated with quality; prevention cost. Prevention costs are costs that are “associated with reducing the potential for defective parts or services” (Heizer and Render 192). By offering training, Atlas Copco is reducing the likelihood for defective parts, and thus live up to their mission.


How can you compare Atlas Copco’s emphasis on quality with that of your job?

Does your workplace account for any of the four major categories of costs associated with quality? (Prevention costs, appraisal costs, internal failure, and external costs).


Works Cited

AtlasCopcoGroup. “A Career at Atlas Copco: Quality Control Engineer.” YouTube. YouTube, 02 May 2012. Web. 31 Oct. 2012. <>.

Heizer, Jay H., and Barry Render. “Managing Quality.” Principles of Operations Management. 8th ed. Boston: Pearson Education, 2011. 207. Print.

It’s not an uphill battle that Microsoft is losing, it’s a mobile one

Microsoft recently revealed a revamped version of its Windows Phone software, appropriately deemed ‘Windows Phone 8.’  According to the company, which grabs slightly more than 3% of the international mobile market, the app store has been greatly augmented, though some of the applications will not be available until next quarter.  The article notes that Microsoft presenters mentioned their competitors several times during the unveiling.  It is apparent that Apple and Google-powered phones dominate this space and are setting the benchmark for competitors.  Realistically, however, is there anything to compete against?

Microsoft is, in general, good at what they do; they have a solid product, market awareness, and substantial resources.  This does not necessarily mean they are meant to operate in the mobile phone market, alone at least.  It’s becoming clear that they cannot compete with Apple or Google; consider the app stores: Microsoft now has 120,000 compared to Apple’s 700,000.  While Microsoft has stepped up its game and market share, they are nowhere near the size of the competition.  It is difficult to gain much traction with companies of that size working against Microsoft’s advances.  There is an alternative to the constant, losing battle: if you can’t beat them, join them.  It seems like Microsoft could benefit greatly from a partnership with a large competitor and they should consider exploring the possibility.  To do this, the larger player would have to get something out of the agreement – which might be Apple in this case.  Compatibility, as well as ease of use, between Microsoft and Apple software continues to be an issue, but a partnership could be a game changer in the mobile market.

There are a number of functions that I’m sure many Apple customers wish they had on their iPhones, namely the Microsoft Office product suite.  Business is partial to PowerPoint, Excel, and Word, not Pages or Keynote.  This is problematic for iPhone users when sending these types of documents.  Word becomes a pdf, Excel has limited functionality, and it appears that an independent app is necessary to view a PowerPoint presentation.  Consumers would likely agree with the added value if Apple and Microsoft could work together to solve this issue.

Link to article:

Recruitment Firms: Yay or Nay?

In an article from the Quality Digest website, author Kyle Toppazzini claims that staffing agencies lead their clients to the deterioration of quality management. He states that these agencies only present candidates with the minimal requirements to their clients to meet their 10-20 percent margins. For example, the author discovered several organizational lean job requirements stating they are accepting any level of certification from almost any institution. Toppazzini continues to argue how recruiters can just accept any level of certification pertaining to lean Six Sigma, especially if it was from a four-hour online course. He believes that four hours of online training does not necessarily mean that the candidate possesses the required set of knowledge and skills in order to perform a job well done. By overlooking these qualifications, “recruiters lead clients down the path of poor results.”

I believe recruitment firms only solve temporary “fixes” in an organization’s staffing needs. They are not meant to help any organization to substantially improve quality and overall performance by any means. According to the author, it is best for the organization to hire a quality management professional to educate the organization of what is truly needed to proceed forward if the company wants to apply a lean Six Sigma concept. The firm will then understand what set of skills, knowledge, and experience one needs to successfully lead the firm down to quality management.

While I do agree that a four-hour online training course does not mean that one is overly qualified for a job, but it does have an edge over other candidates who do not have certificates. Like most recruitment firms, they want to present the best possible candidates so clients would continue to use their services in the future. They don’t just select any, but the ones that stand out and would best fit the position. They are just doing their job.  Reaching their margins is one goal, but keeping clients and candidates satisfied and content is another. If neither side is happy, then these recruitment firms fail at matchmaking which is the essential responsibility to their job.

“Let recruitment firms provide the service they were intended to provide.” Recruiters don’t have the infrastructure in providing management solutions. They have no idea what the organizational goals or what the mission statement is. Recruiters are only provided with job descriptions, job requirements, what the organization’s vision of an ideal candidate would look like and then recruiters proceed to source candidates to find the ones that best meet what the company is looking for. Ultimately, the clients are the ones that make the final decision as to who to bring on to their family tree. They should not have any expectations as to what else the candidates will provide aside from the skills and experience to perform the job.

What do you think of staffing agencies? Do you think staffing agencies lead clients to poor quality improvement?


FIRE! Honda Recalls Almost 1.4 Million Automobiles,0,7115867.story


Safety issues have been a huge problem for Honda this week. This car company recalled around 1.4 million Honda Civics, Accords, and Pilots. The most resent account being this past Saturday. 268,000 CR-V sport-utility vehicles from the year 2002-2006 where recalled due to faulty automatic window switches, the specific cause of production variation. This assignable variation was recognized by Honda due to malfunction and the potential to start a fire. The problem with these vehicles was not discovered until 6-10 years after the manufacturing of the vehicle. I find it odd that these problems were not detected earlier. Honda said that rain or liquids that may enter into the driver’s window, dripping onto the power window switch is what is causing the problem. A constant exposure over time can “cause electrical resistance in the switch, making it overheat, melt and cause a fire.”

This is just the most resent recall of Honda vehicles. They are having problems in their manufacturing across three different lines produced from 2002-2006, so their system is not stable. This is not something that I would expect from a trusted automotive manufacturer. The continuation of recalls is going to make people doubt Honda vehicles. Since the assignable variation is a problem among multiple models throughout five years it will be a hard blow for Honda to bounce back from. With the massive amounts of vehicles being recalled by this automotive company, they are not upholding the quality that their customers expect. Honda needs to reevaluate their system in order to identify the cause of these multiple problems. Was it a manufacturing problem due to faulty machinery? Will the problem persist in new model Hondas but just has not been identified yet? These are questions that I have myself as a consumer; ultimately lowering my quality perception of Honda.

An expanded March recall of Civic sedans with wiring problems in the headlight switch was also announced; along with CR-V small SUVs and Pilots that have the same problem. Some models of the Accord where also recalled in order to fix leaking power steering hoses which could cause fires. This problem won’t be addressed until early 2013 because Honda does not have enough parts to fix such a large number of vehicles. Instead, notice has been sent to Accord owners telling drivers who experience symptoms of the problems to go to the dealership for repair. The smell from seeping fluid is the most common symptom reported. Do you think this is an acceptable way for Honda to handle their manufacturing flaws? Is there a more effective way to handle the matter?