Thursday, April 13, 2017

Quality, excellence and (Perpetual) Innovation

Quality Improvement programs like TQM are a key part of building a sustainable competitive advantage for companies. Every couple years there is an improvement or a new flavor of TQM, like six sigma and lean six sigma.

Talking about quality... The Baldrige Program is a rather cool program for improving the process of quality in an organization... Brought to you from the US Department of Commerce through the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Download the 2017-2018 Baldrige Excellence Builder.

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There's a discussion at NIST about why you would use the Baldrige Program vs other Total Quality Management (TQM) programs. Generally, they suggest using Baldrige for the over planning and processes, but use lean for the the continuous improvement.

There's an interesting article about TQM programs and implementation of them by Fleming-Farrell, Hall and Blando (2014). It summarizes two TQM-type studies, one focuses on the top of the organization, the other on the six-sigma practitioner. From the top view, there seems to be no correlation between the number TQM-type programs and the performance of them; so going to the next flavor of TQM does not necessarily do much, it is the care and feeding that goes into your quality program that makes the difference.

Oh, and there is almost no relationship between the participation in six sigma and compensation. Black belts get a little more pay, but generally there is no pay increase for working harder and longer at quality improvement. Of course the skill and skill set might prompt a six sigma practitioner, after training and experience, to jump ship and take a big raise elsewhere.
Maybe awards and recognition might help?

Glad you asked, there is also the Baldrige Award.
Or, in Florida, the Florida Sterling Award

Top-down vs Bottom-up Planning. The issue that is often observed about the world of TQM is that it is generally a bottom-up planning tool. Great for managing the factory and incremental improvements. But disruptive innovation and strategic planning, not so useful. Hall and Hinkelman (2013, 2017) approach top-down planning with their Perpetual Innovation(tm) series of books. But they integrate bottom-up planning into the process as well. It really makes no difference where the great ideas come from, provided the organization is in a position to recognize 'em and take advantage of them. Even the best laid plans (of mice and men) must be well executed. Baldrige seems like a perfect way of managing with clear alignment through the organization either in stable state, or transitioning through incremental change.

Want to go to the theater and watch videos? Check them out here: Youtub Videos (popcorn not provided).

Hall, E. B. & Hinkelman, R. M. (2013). Perpetual Innovation™: A guide to strategic planning, patent commercialization and enduring competitive advantage, Version 2.0. Morrisville, NC: LuLu Press. ISBN: 978-1-304-11687-1  Retrieved from:

Hall, E. B. & Hinkelman, R. M. (2017). Perpetual Innovation™: Patent primer 3.1e: Patents, the great equalizer of our time! An overview of intellectual property with patenting cost estimates for inventors and entrepreneurs.  [Amazon Kindle eBook].  ASIN: B01MS53JC5 Retrieved from:   
Fleming-Farrell, L., Hall, E., & Blando, J. (2014, Spring).  Implementation of new TQM programs, communications, and adapting to change. In C. A. Lentz (Ed.), The refractive thinker: Vol. 8: Effective business practices for motivation and communication (pp. 159-181). Las Vegas, NV: The Refractive Thinker© Press.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The End of a Patent Dynasty, IBM has been Dethroned

IBM is no longer King of the Patent World! 
Samsung now reigns supreme.

US Patents for 2016 by Fortune by IFI Claims Patent Services. IBM #1 with 8,052 patents issued. Samsung Electronics Co Lmt with 5,518. But, a better measure would have IBM coming in second in 2016, and even in 2015!... 

The other approach that consolidates related companies here, or more directly from Sqoop here.   IBM #2 when Samsung has more patents collectively with 8,551 issued in 2016.
In terms of patent applications, 

In terms of patent applications, Samsung really beats out IBM:
  • Samsung -- 10,695
  • International Business Machines Corporation -- 8,800
Samsung is way ahead of #2 Microsoft in Design Patents with ~1,500 vs. ~500. IBM is not in to the top 40 in terms of US design patents (as would be expected for the type of products (services, really) that they produce.

Wow, no 25 year run for IBM. A questionable 24 year run through 2016. And arguably, not even a 23 year.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Tech Startup IPOs Better with Big Blue Patents

The Strategic Business Planning Company has long championed an aggressive  approach by startup companies that centers on obtaining a patent(s) on a new product/service at or near the time of market entry to offer unique value and competitive protection.  Very young companies need funding.  Venture capitalists are a major source of funding and, according to a study by the University of California Berkeley Law School, “many investors place a premium on patents when making investment decisions.  In fact, 67% of firms surveyed indicated that the existence of patents were an important factor in their investment decisions… proving that it doesn’t matter what industry you are in a significant percentage of VCs place a premium of patents when making investment decisions.”  (“Why Patents Matter for Job Creation and Economic Growth,” Gene Quinn, IP Watchdog) [For additional confirmation, see Shark Tank]

There are other compelling reasons why patents are important.  A paper entitled “The Bright Side of Patents” sites the economic benefits that patents bring to start-up businesses. Joan Farre-Mensa of Harvard, Alexander Liunggvist and Deepak Hedge of NYU studied all first-time patent applications filed at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPRO) by start-ups from 2001- 2013, 45,819 in total.  They concluded that patent approvals help startups create jobs and succeed.  Key points from the research:
  • The first patent application increases a company’s employment growth over the next five years by 36%.  The effect on sales growth – a 51% increase – is even larger.
  • Approval of a patent application increases a start-up’s probability of securing VC funding  by 53% over companies without patents.
  • Patents more than double the likelihood that a start-up is eventually listed on a stock exchange.
  To make your market introduction positioning even stronger, buy some patents from IBM before your IPO as described in this blog post from  Banks, in addition to venture capitalists, look favorably on tech startups that have a patent portfolio from Big Blue which has sold 15,000 patents since 1991.

IBM has been the leader in annual patent procurement for years and years.  But, even in Big Blue, not all patents can be commercialized and many other patents are not consistent with its marketing strategies.  For these reasons and, it turns out, for tax benefits, the company puts many patents on the market to supplement its licensing royalties.

When your IP gets the boot, AAPL boots IMG

Imagination Technologies (IMG) dropped about 70% over the last day or so as Apple says that they will no use IMG's graphics processing (GPU) technology much longer. The stock dropped from a high of about $300 US to a low of $76. It dropped $180 in today's trading, stabilizing at about $90. You might have an issue when the largest company in the world says they don't intent to buy your products much longer, especially if they are your largest customer.

Read about it here.

Apple says that they will take other approached to get their graphics. IMG says that will be hard to do with their intellectual property protection.

IMG is very similar to ARM Holding who makes the technology, not the products. But last year ARM got gobbled up by SoftBank (which owns Sprint), so Great Britain is becoming even less great the day or so after BrExit (wondering if any relation there). IPZine blogged about ARM holdings not holding out here.

Yes, intellectual property will be an interesting problem for the UK as they work out the divorce agreement(s) with the EU.