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January 26, 2012 8:38 am

EDITORIAL: Innovation the key to our future

Written by Don Amend

Powell’s most significant contribution to the world probably has been in the person of W. Edwards Deming.

Deming grew up in Powell and was a member of the third Powell High School graduating class in 1919. He went on to develop a system of statistical quality control for industry, and by applying those principles, he helped Japanese industry rebuild following its destruction during World War II. Today, the innovative principles Deming developed have become known as the cornerstone of the global economy.

Such innovative thinking is just as vital today as the world economy inevitably evolves. An effort is under way in Wyoming to help businesses and non-profit organizations generate new ideas for products and services, share them and test their potential for making money.

That effort is coming to Powell next month during an Innovation Engineering Leadership Institute at Northwest College.

Changes in the world sparked innovation in Powell schools as well. In this edition of the Powell Tribune is a report on a robotics club where students are dreaming up ways of performing a series of tasks, designing a machine to perform them and testing their design. The schools’ iPad project began last fall, and teachers are finding innovative ways to use it for instruction.

Innovation also is important on a personal level. As energy prices rise, for example, people might think outside the box for ways to use less electricity or drive their automobiles fewer miles, adapting to the situation instead of complaining about it.

It is fitting that Dr. Deming will be honored in his hometown during the Leadership Institute early next month. We should remember that he made the world better with his innovative thinking, and apply that principle to our homes, our schools, our businesses and our community.

That would be an even better way to honor him.


  • Comment Link January 26, 2012 11:07 am posted by Dewey

    Anytime the Deming discussion comes up , it's important to also note in a few lines why Japan bought into his methodology, but the American industrial moguls did not.Deming first published in 1939. Deming's message to Japan's chief executives in 1950 : improving quality will reduce expenses while increasing productivity and market share. QED. The American enterprise system and its handlers has the opposite tack " costs always came first , and quality fell in line behind that (maybe) or was entirely spurious. The automakers dictated to the market in the US and built to that percieved market by emphasizing style over substance; glamour over functionality; sizzle over steak. Now you know why Japanese cars were so well recieved in the USA and ran for years, while our own Detroit tuna boats and land barges were prefabbed clunkers. Then there was that uniquely American notion of " planned obsolescence" so abhorred elsewhere. Not even Cadillac was immune to it, and American carmakers are just now doing it right- build for quality first and the market and money will take care of itself.

    Deming did almost all of his seminal work in Japan in three months' time . June-August 1950. His audience of Japanese executives were very receptive. Their American counterparts were not receptive. Arrogance prevailed.

    Those who do not learn from history...etc.

  • Comment Link January 28, 2012 11:13 am posted by Andy

    Dewey, You are right on and I might add. The companies that adopt LEAN, to manufacture based on a pull system or the customer demand, do reduce costs through Deming principles. Continuous improvement, quality at the source, point of use storage, single piece flow, reduced transportation (movement) of parts, plant layout are all Deming principles. Companies that apply LEAN, can then focus on innnovation engineering. Creating new products, assessing the viability, and getting them to market. The classic example is of Toyota --a pioneer in lean -- and also the first to develop hybrid technology with the prius. Now, American car makers are finally doing this (there is a Chevy VOLT at the delership in Powell), but we are not the leaders that we used to enjoy. Something changed in our country about the time we were the first to put a man on the moon.....But there is hope for those that want to learn! I encourage anyone interested in innovation to visit www.manufacturing-works.com/ie

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