Tag: BlackBerry

When Giants Rise … Again

Blackberry 10 SDK
Blackberry 10 SDK (Photo credit: Dirk Songür)

Research In Motion (RIM) is making news for all the right reasons as of late – a sharp contrast from a short year ago. All of the reviews I’ve been reading thus far suggest that RIM’s new BlackBerry 10 is above and beyond expectations. The software technology has even been described by some as disruptive. Though the stakes remain high for both RIM and investors alike, strong prospects of a successful product launch are definitely encouraging.

Success will certainly help to re-establish RIM as a leader in a highly competitive smart phone market that they themselves created and at one time dominated. The competitive aspects of smart phones tend to focus as much, if not more, on technology than price. RIM’s BlackBerry 10 is poised to introduce radical changes to both hardware and software as depicted in the many “leaked” pictures and videos.

The number of available “apps” always seems to be a point of contention and a measure of “acceptance” by tablet and smart phone developers and users alike. Although the number of apps for the new BlackBerry 10 continues to grow at a rather astounding rate, I was even more encouraged to learn that RIM is more interested in quality not quantity.

Success will also give cause for many to reflect on RIM’s rebirth along the way. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Apple was once in a very similar position. Unlike Apple, however, there is no “Microsoft” to help RIM to get back on their feet. Perhaps, through all of this, RIM has already re-affirmed that some of life’s lessons we were taught growing up bear a greater significance on our future successes than we would have thought otherwise.

  • Focus – Strategy, vision, goals and objectives
  • Patience is a virtue – You can’t rush success
  • You have to believe it to see it – Stick to your vision
  • Don’t give up – Persistence to succeed, resistance to failure
  • No Noise – Eliminate distractions (real or perceived)

Lean execution is not a term I would use to describe RIM’s journey leading up to the launch of the BlackBerry 10, especially after missing several launch dates already and stumbling for what seemed to be months to even commit to the new launch date of January 30, 2013. However, that they even survived this past year of turmoil does say something about the culture of the company and the people who work there. The vision for the BlackBerry 10 remained as the focal point for hardware and software development despite a significant management shakeup, a substantial decrease in market share, loss of shareholder confidence, and rapidly declining stock prices.

A shift in marketing strategy and providing incentives for software developers around the globe has certainly helped RIM to promote and create what is touted to be the “next big thing” to hit the smart phone market. I think the vision, drive, and spirit to survive are the real underlying factors that sustained the company through the worst of times by focusing on what will bring the best of times. If the launch of the BlackBerry 10 is as successful as hoped, I’m sure many others will also look beyond the product and delve into the culture at RIM that brought the BlackBerry and the company back to life.

Your feedback matters

If you have any questions, comments, or topics you would like us to address, please feel free to contact us by using the comment space below or by sending an email to LeanExecution@Gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

Until Next Time – STAY lean

Vergence Analytics
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Transition Versus Change – 2013

Change Management
Change Management (Photo credit: larry_odebrecht)

The time between Christmas and New Year’s eve is one of transition as we consider the events that occurred over the past year and prepare for the new year ahead. Experts are sure to present their annual summaries and will also attempt to “predict” what may be in store for us in the year to come. As lean leaders we also recognize the necessity to make and take the time for introspection and hansei (reflection).

Lean is by definition a perpetual transition from the current state to an ideal future state as we understand it. As our culture and technologies evolve, we continue to open doors to more opportunities and perhaps an even greater potential than first imagined. As such, we seek to advance our understanding as we pursue our vision of lean and it’s scope of application.

Lean is often described as a journey. While the vision is clearly defined, the means for achieving it continue to evolve and, as we’ve stated many times before, “There’s always a better way and more than one solution.” From a lean perspective, the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle challenges us to consider every change as a temporary state where each subsequent iteration ultimately brings us closer to realizing our vision.

Recognizing that we are in a continual state of transition should give us cause to embrace the ideology that the nature of change can only be viewed as a temporary condition. True resistance to change should only occur when the vision itself is compromised. Similarly, the absence of a clear vision is also cause for resistance. We contend that where the purpose or vision remains constant, the means or the methods of achieving it – incremental or disruptive – are more readily adopted.

The “Change Curve” presented in the diagram above clearly suggests that the commitment to change progresses from Leadership to Change Agents and finally to the End Users with each “group” requiring an increasing span of time to absorb and embrace the change accordingly. A potential for frustration and resistance to change occurs when the next iteration is introduced before the change that precedes it has been adopted and “experienced”. For this same reason and as suggested in our post, “Apple’s Best Kept Secrets … May Be Their Worst Enemy“, companies (including Apple) must be careful to manage the frequency at which change occurs to avoid frustrating employees and potential customers in the process.

The absence of change or lack of evidence that change is coming is and should be cause for concern. Research In Motion’s (RIM) continued delays in releasing the BlackBerry 10 (BB10) resulted in lost confidence from investors and share prices dropped sharply in return. RIM’s attempts to “talk” through the company’s strategy and the future of the BlackBerry could not sustain their one time dominance of the smart phone market. Thankfully for RIM, the BlackBerry, slated to launch on January 30, 2013, is receiving raving reviews as a high quality next generation smart phone. Only time will tell if too much time has passed to win people over.

Lean leaders recognize that real change begins in the hearts and minds of every stakeholder and is a pre-requisite before any physical changes can occur. A learning organization embraces the concept of “transitional” thinking where each change represents the current level of knowledge and understanding. Where perpetual learning occurs, transitional thinking ensues, and subsequent changes mark our progress along the journey.

As we look forward to 2013, we thank you for your continued support and wish you the best of successes in the New Year ahead.

Until Next Time – STAY lean

Vergence Analytics

Microsoft – Scratching the Surface

Microsoft Surface
Microsoft Surface (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is always a better way and more than one solution

This certainly seems to be true in the tablet world as Microsoft unveils one of its own – the Surface. Taking a note from Apple, Microsoft has integrated hardware and software into a unique solution that is sure to compete directly with the iPad.

From a lean perspective, I can’t help but admire the evolution of electronics to become ever smaller and ever faster than the generations that precede them. While the Surface is Microsoft’s debut into the tablet market, it has much to offer as a strong contender to Apple’s iPad. Microsoft may be a little late coming into the tablet game but perhaps their timing is appropriate. Apple has played their cards giving Microsoft the opportunity to be “second but better”.

Although reviews are mixed, I’m encouraged by the initial product offering from Microsoft.  From the outset, there are a number of physical features that immediately set the Surface apart from the iPad such as an integrated keyboard and cover, a pop out “kick stand”, and included stylus. Windows 8 appears to be the operating system that will dominate both the Surface and the PC desktop / laptop environment in the near future. This pairing offers a much more flexible data storage and transfer solution than is available in competitor products.

You be the judge

Rather than describe the Surface, you can judge the Surface for  yourself as presented in this “teaser” preview video:

The full keynote presentation by Microsoft appears in the video below:

The Price of Ownership

Although pricing has not been stated explicitly, Microsoft suggests that it should be in line with other tablets and netbooks already available on the market.  Hopefully it will be cheaper than it’s intended competitors. In Ontario, Canada, Apple’s 64GB iPad retails at $895.00 and, after buying your case, keyboard, and stylus, the cost to “start-up” your iPad can easily swell to over $1,100.00 after taxes and the purchase of a few “useful apps”. The price of an iPad is not all-inclusive. It is worth noting that the iPad requires an additional line (phone number) on your cellular plan and, since data is all “in the cloud”, your monthly data usage rate is sure to rise as well. Even RIM‘s (Research in Motion) PlayBook tether option is admirable as a cost-effective solution as it “co-exists” with your BlackBerry SmartPhone.

The need for dominance – “apps”

Apple boasts that over 500,000 apps are available for the iPhone and the iPad. From a consumer perspective it is virtually impossible to evaluate all of the “apps” that are available and finding the one that will do what you want is even more daunting. Most reviews are brief or there is insufficient data collected to provide an effective rating. It could be argued that apps are relatively inexpensive so the financial risks or exposure for an error in judgement is minimized when choosing an app.

Apps for other platforms are growing in number, however, they are still far from approaching the scope of Apple’s app store. Now that Microsoft’s Surface has been introduced, app developers are sure to find themselves wondering which platform is deserving of their time and effort.

I suggest that a need for core dominant apps exists – much like the wars that ensued between spreadsheet and word processor developers of years past. Today, anyone with a computer, time, and a desire to code can develop an app. Apple certainly makes it easy by providing all the tools you need to get started including a fully integrated programming environment. With tools at everyone’s disposal and a small price for admission, it is no wonder that so many apps are available.

Microsoft may very well be the contender to develop real “useful” apps that will truly make tablets even more relevant for business just as they did with Office 2010 for the desktop. Microsoft Office can be found on virtually every computer I’ve seen in business and there are very few exceptions.

The Wait Begins

We’ll have to wait and see what happens in the tablet market. For now, it appears that Apple finally has a true competitor that may be cause to stimulate even more innovation going forward. It is also worth noting that Google just released the Nexus Android based tablet to compete with Amazon’s Kindle. All of this is happening as RIM (Research In Motion) is struggling to stay afloat. Some may even say, “It can only get better.”

Until Next Time – STAY lean!

Vergence Analytics

BlackBerry or Bust?

WIND branded Blackberry Bold 9700
Image via Wikipedia

Leadership

Leadership can make or break any organization whether it is business, government, or even a sports franchise. I felt compelled to cite this quote from a column titled “Iconic teams tumble from penthouse to outhouse” as published in the Toronto Star (20-Jan-2012):

And while all have found different routes to the bottom, they do have one thing in common: ineptitude at the top. Find a meddling owner or inept general manager and you’ll find a franchise in trouble.

“Pro sports franchises are first and foremost businesses,” says Richard Powers, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. “The same problems that get businesses in trouble are what get sports teams in trouble.”

Clearly, to be successful, organizations require effective leadership. For this same reason, a successful lean initiative must be driven from the top leadership of the organization. I discussed this on our Lean Road Map page suggesting that without executive leadership, the program is certain to fail.  This sentiment is also confirmed in “The Toyota Way to Lean Leadership” by Jeffrey Liker and Gary Convis:

That’s because these problems were in fact leadership problems, not lean process problems. They were a stern reminder that all the investment in lean process in the world will not yield the expected outcomes if it is not accompanied by lean leadership throughout the enterprise, including corporate support departments.”

We also discussed the necessity for lean leadership in our previous post “Lean Leadership – The Missing Link?” As we learn of Kodak filing for bankruptcy and disturbing results for RIM, we are anxious to continue our review of “The Toyota Way to Lean Leadership” over the coming weeks. Kodak invented the digital camera and failed to pursue their own innovation. Again, another indication that leadership with a clear vision for the future is pertinent to the success of your organization.

RIM and the BlackBerry

Rumors of a buyout or take over of RIM have been circulating in the media. As an owner of the BlackBerry Bold smart phone and Playbook, I’m hopeful that RIM (or some version of them) will be with us for quite some time.  More so, their survival is just as important to our local Ontario (Canadian) economy. Although there are many players in the smart phone and tablet market, Apple appears to be the prevailing competitor to RIM with its iPhone and iPad offerings. All, however, pose a major threat to RIM’s declining presence in the market.

Market Share, Price Points, and Customer Satisfaction

RIM effectively lowered prices for their Playbook product line and that’s great news for customers looking to get a great tablet. While this may help to increase market share and make the PlayBook a real bargain, this does little to appease the many people who purchased the product at full price (myself included).  The 64GB PlayBook is now selling for prices ranging from $217 (16GB) up to $325 (64GB) versus the original release prices of $499 and $699 respectively. Whether these price points are closer to reality, a means to increase market share, or a means to simply reduce on hand inventory remains to be seen.

The Product Experience

My overall experience with the BlackBerry has been relatively positive:  it works as advertised although I did keep a bottle of rubbing alcohol close by to keep the roller ball working on my old phone. The number of applications available seems to be somewhat limited compared to the iPhone and iPad, however, what I have is more than sufficient for my purpose.

Upgrading

I’m very pleased with the new changes introduced in my new BlackBerry Bold 9900. I finally get to enjoy the benefits of Touch Screen technology while the full keyboard remains in tact and an optical sensor replaces the ever failing “roller ball”. Unfortunately, this upgrade also required parting with cash that I wasn’t planning to spend:

  • The new style connector required new chargers for car and home.
  • New USB cable to connect my lap top, again because the connector style changed
  • New Case for the phone.
  • A capacitive Stylus to minimize finger prints on the touch screen.
I also purchased a Voyager Pro Blue Tooth in keeping with our “driver distraction / hands free” driving laws here in Ontario.
  • Voyageur Pro – Blue Tooth

Connecting

I also have a 64GB PlayBook and connecting with my BlackBerry Bold smart phone was relatively simple and seamless. I actually like the ability to tether my PlayBook through my smart phone and the BlackBerry Bridge software works like a charm. The 64GB PlayBook presents better value for the money than the 16GB or 32GB PlayBooks.

Smart phone software upgrades and backups are performed using the BlackBerry Desktop manager through your lap top or desk top. I found some of the applications like Twitter and WordPress did not work correctly when I first upgraded to the latest operating system, however, they seem to have resolved themselves.

Accessories

I find that accessories for the BlackBerry products are over priced and even Walmart stores carrying these products don’t provide much relief.  Here are some of the basic essentials:

Not essential but highly recommended:

Connecting BlueTooth devices (also known as pairing) is a simple task and one you’ll quickly grow comfortable with after you’ve done it a few times.
So what’s with the blog post?

The leadership of the company must embrace and deliver the vision of the company to the consumer in the form of product and service expectations. As much as I appreciate my BlackBerry products, I have also admired Apple from afar.  Steve Jobs had a great vision for the Apple product line that sees individual products now connecting in ways that were never thought possible.  While Apple retained its roots in computers (iMac) it also extended that vision to include the iPhone, iPod, and iPad. Quite simply, the Apple product line presents a complete and seamless “digital” solution through improved connectivity, portability, and technologies in general.

Steve Jobs’ vision enabled Apple to drive beyond the limits of our imagination. Few companies have excelled as Apple has to define products that we never knew we needed until they invented them. They simply didn’t refine existing products, they expanded their niche products into a wholly unique offering as only Apple could do. Coupled with connectivity options that exceeded anyone’s expectations, Apple products will continue to define and dominate the market for years to come.

As for RIM, the leadership has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons: shareholder leadership / infrastructure concerns, product valuation, and the procurement of an NHL hockey franchise.  As I finished writing this post, a link to this article appeared in my twitter timeline > Bowing to Critics and Market Forces, RIM’s Co-Chiefs Step Aside.

A decision such as this can’t be easy and demonstrates how outside influences can affect the leadership of any organization – good or bad.

Until Next Time – STAY lean!

Vergence Analytics

Time Studies with your BlackBerry

Performing a time study is relatively easy compared to only few years ago.  The technologies available today allow studies to be conducted quite readily.

Time Studies and OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness)

The Performance factor for OEE is based on the Ideal Cycle Time of the process.  For fixed rate processes, the Name-Plate rate may suffice but should still be confirmed.  For other processes such a labour intensive operations, a time study is the only way to determine the true or ideal cycle time.

When measuring the cycle time, we typically use “button to button” timing to mark a complete cycle.  It can be argued that an operator may lose time to retrieve or pack parts or move containers.  Including these events in the gross cycle time will hide these opportunities.  It is better to exclude any events that are not considered to be part of the actual production cycle.

When calculating the Performance factor for Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), the efficiency shortfalls will be noted by the less than 100% performance.  The reasons for this less than optimal level of peformance are attributed to the activities the operator is required to perform other than actually operating the machine or producing parts.

All operator activities and actions should be documented using a standardized operating procedure or standardized work methodology.  This will allow all activities to be captured as opposed to absorbed into the job function.

The BlackBerry Clock – Stopwatch

One of the tools we have used on the “fly” is the BlackBerry Clock’s Stopwatch function.  The stopwatch feature is very simple to use and provides lap time recording as well.

When performing time studies using a traditional stopwatch, being able to keep track of individual cycle times can be difficult.  With the stopwatch function, the history for each “lap” time is retained.  To determine the individual lap time or cycle time, we recommend dividing the total lapsed time by the number of completed cycles (or laps).

The individual lap times are subject to a certain degree of uncertainty or error as there will always be a lead or lag time associated with the pushing of the button on the BlackBerry to signal the completion of a cycle.  Although this margin of error may be relatively small, even with this level of technology, the human element is still a factor for consideration.

Once the time study is complete you can immediately send the results by forwarding them as an E-mail, PIN, or SMS.

The BlackBerry Camera – Video Camera

Another useful tool is the video camera.  Using video to record operations and processes allows for a detailed “step by step” analysis at any time.  This is particularly useful when establishing Standard Operating Procedures or Standardized Work.

Uploading videos and pictures to your computer is as easy as connecting the device to an available USB port.  In a matter of minutes, the data is ready to be used.

Video can also be used to analyze work methods, sequences, and also serves as a valuable problem solving tool.

Until Next Time – STAY Lean!

We are not affiliated with Research In Motion (RIM).  The intent of this post is to simply demonstrate how the technology can be used in the context described and presented.