- Posted by J. Nirdosh Reddy
- On May 20, 2017
Many years ago, in 1988 to be precise, I was working in the Corporate Quality Office at Ford Motor Company. I was invited to deliver a keynote address at the 1988 CEO conference organized by the American Supplier Institute. The topic was ‘Policy Management’ which, broadly speaking, is a different way of developing and implementing annual business plans. It evolved from Dr. W. Edwards Deming’s teachings and was considered to be a much better method.
In my 45-minute talk, I covered the essence of Dr. Deming’s teachings, how they helped enterprises satisfy the higher order needs on Maslow’s hierarchy (belonging, self-esteem and self-actualization), and finally, what kind of cultural transformation is needed to implement process-based methodologies (TQM) to improve competitiveness.
The reaction I received from the CEOs was overwhelming. Comments included statements like … “I got more out of your 45-minute talk than 2-week study missions to best in class companies”, “please visit our organization and share your insights”, and “tell us more on how to implement these concepts”.
Then, one of my friends, Ram Nomula, who built his organization, Disc Manufacturing Inc (DMI), from a garage start-up to a 500-employee operation, invited me to share my observations with his managers. He said that he and his managers were working very hard and long hours, and wondered how long they can keep working 12-hour days. After my talk to his management team, their HR manager approached me to say that his senior managers asked him to request me to teach them how to implement the concepts I covered. With Ford’s permission (DMI was not a Ford supplier), I created the Anaar Company as a hobby, and started developing the Anaar Roadmap for implementing the Deming philosophy. I started visiting DMI regularly on the weekends. Within 6 months their processes were streamlined so much that their pagers – these were still the days of pagers – which used to disturb their sleep constantly, beeped only occasionally! They were able to go home earlier and sleep better.
The word spread, and Bob Stottle, the owner of Thermal Corporation, another company in that region, approached me, and asked me whether I could find time helping him implement the Deming philosophy at his small company of about 40 employees. Mr. Stottle said that he had tried to implement Deming philosophy by assigning that task to his Vice President, that his leadership team was reading Deming’s books together, and that they tried what they could for the past 2 years without any success. I said that I would be glad to help, but that it would require his personal involvement and leadership – no delegation. He agreed, and to make a long story short, Thermal Corporation went on to win the Alabama Quality and Productivity award (equivalent of the Malcolm Baldrige award at the State level) within a couple of years of starting their journey using the Anaar Roadmap.
While this was happening in the US, a similar story was unfolding in India. The year after I gave the keynote address at the CEO conference, a group of about 30 senior executives from India were on a study mission to the States, organized by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII). One of their stops was the Ford Motor Company. My boss at the time, John Latini, asked me to share my keynote address with this group. The reaction from this group was equally positive! At the end of their study mission, the group coordinator sent me a letter stating that the participants loved my talk and had asked him to invite me to India to deliver the talk along with anything else I could share with them. Of course I agreed. CII organized 4 sessions – two in-house sessions, one at Godrej & Boyce and the other at Kirloskar Electric Company (KEC) and two open sessions. Six months later, CII invited me again for more sessions. KEC and Godrej & Boyce mentioned that they achieved more in the six months since my earlier visit than they did over the previous five years using other methodologies. M. N. Krishna Rao, VP of Kirloskar Electric Company and E. J. Kalwachia, VP of Godrej and Boyce asked me whether I could visit them for a week every quarter.
At Ford, I had only 4 weeks of vacation per year. Visiting two companies for one week per quarter would require 8 weeks per year which I didn’t have.
I needed to make a major decision: do I stay at Ford as a manager and spend my 4 weeks of my vacation on this exciting undertaking, which meant that I had to say no to some enterprises asking for my help, OR leave Ford and devote all my time to teaching and spread the knowledge I gained, which I love to do.
With encouragement from my wife, Asha, I chose to make my hobby a full time undertaking. I left Ford and devoted my time to spreading the Anaar Roadmap, our BPM approach, to help enterprises implement Dr. Deming’s teachings faster and more effectively; taught and guided senior executives of enterprises to improve their competitiveness. (Some people call it consulting, but I prefer to call it teaching and guiding – the old-fashioned way).
Since then, it has been a great privilege to work with over 100 businesses in 10 countries as a process consultant. I am glad to report that the bulk of the clients we have are through word of mouth – satisfied clients telling their colleagues who contacted us for similar programs, and successful students who attended my sessions inviting me as they moved to higher responsibilities in other organizations. For example, Steve Glaza, one of the attendees at DMI went on to higher level of responsibilities at Technicolor, Kodak and Kopin. Wherever he went, he invited us to share the Anaar Roadmap. He took us to Ireland and Mexico. Nitin Warty who attended my sessions while he was at Thermax, went on to become the Managing Director of a company in Oman, and invited us to conduct similar sessions in Oman. Anjan Sen, who attended my session about 15 years ago, contacted me and invited me to Saudi Arabia when he became the head of an organization there.
Building on the experience we gained over the past 25 years, we recently developed a web application for process documentation, the APRS – to combine the capabilities of evolving internet technology with process thinking that is inherent in our Business Process Management (BPM) approach. We know this will help businesses of all sizes speed up their transformation to higher levels of competitiveness and help them sustain the gains they earn.