Monthly columns from the back page of QNewZ
The magazine of the New Zealand Organisation for Quality

Lean everything
June 2013

Veteran readers of this column will know that I like to argue an 'end of history' viewpoint about organisational excellence. 'We're at the conclusion of a century or so of evolution', my argument goes, 'and we know pretty much all we need to know about the perfection of systems' ... more ...

Ethics in the workplace
April 2014

A learning organisation is rife with ethical dilemmas. What's the difference between instruction and coercion? Work-based learning - whether driven from above or bubbling up from below - implies an asymmetry of power. "The boss says so, so I gotta do it", or "we really want to do this, but we're not sure about corner office support, so we'll make politically-correct adjustments." Resolving those asymmetries is deeply ethical ... more ...

Inside the box
March 2014

Thinking 'outside the box' is all very well, but it's inside the box that ideas are turned into improved or new products and services. A recent MIT Sloan Management Review article (The Discipline of Creativity, by Sinfield, Gustafson and Hindo, 2014, v55/2) explores this idea, arriving on my desktop right in the middle of an email discussion with my colleagues at Capable NZ about managing student projects - about the boundaries of the 'box' ... more ...

Reflections on governance
November 2013

My last district health board meetings are two days away. In my four terms as an elected member of the Otago (now Southern) board, I've attended over 500 meetings, and driven over 50,000 kilometres. DHBs are big business, and they really matter. Southern is a $0.8b enterprise with 4,500 staff delivering a dizzyingly wide range of services to all 304,000 people south of the Waitaki River.Sometimes, as I've made my tired and often disillusioned way home, I've wondered what value I've added. And now, after 12 years, I'm also reflecting on the nature of governance. In this sector, what is good governance, and are New Zealand's DHBs really 'governable' at all? ... more ...


Having just participated in my polytechnic's annual staff development jamboree - three days of meetings, workshops, celebrations and socialising - I've been thinking about what 'great' looks like in a mentor. And while doing so, came across a Fast Company magazine article titled "6 Ways to be a Kick-ass Mentor", by Gwen Moran, with the subtitle "If you're going to take on the mantle of giving someone else career guidance, insight, and advice, you might as well aspire to greatness." ... more ...

Columns from the archive
Columns on 'quality' and organisational performance themes: Quality is dead, long live quality. The dilemma of innovation, and the tyranny of 'best practice'. The knowing-doing gap. What happens next? Managing knowledge. Quality in education. What goes around comes around. Organisational learning. Management is dead. Customer loyalty. Quality healthcare. Navigating the white space. Killer quotas. Does it matter that women get paid less?

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