Culture Note: Independence & Community Cooperation

A recent Atlantic article explored “Why Japanese Kids Can Walk to School Alone?”  This seemingly mundane activity has extreme elements of socio-cultural depth to it.  Two chief cultural elements come into play with this: individualism and collectivism.

At first glance, the average American would point and say “Look how they make kids fend for themselves instead of babying them!”  Our sense of individualism and belief in independent liberty seem justified.  There’s an amazing television series that records the “First Errands” of children.  I found a video of 1 year old girl being sent out alone, which seems CRAZY.

Yet, this methodology of child rearing is dependent on the collective community or society.  A child is safer because all of the people understand and recognize there are other people around them to be mindful or careful of, including children.  If a child is lost, or needs to figure something out, an adult will direct or assist.  However, another Australian video online compares their child safety against Japan’s.  Admittedly one Australian indicates because of the self-interest of individuals, they are less concerned for the community or safety of children as secondary to their own needs.

Although some may exclaim how individualism is at play here, the cultural variation and value of community cooperation creates a “group sense” that is really helping allow this independent growth to occur.

Feel free to contact us at Idea Threads for more on cross cultural concepts and training.  Thanks, Devin

Thanking Starbucks & Howard

Yesterday I had an amazing lunch where I bumped into Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. I made a point to talk to him for a bit because of how well he treated me when I was a younger partner barista. As a professional today I respect and admire him more in recognizing how he sees company culture and individuals.

In 2008 Howard Schultz returned to Starbucks as CEO because of the decline in quality and the coffee experience at stores. Unknowingly I served Mr. Schultz as a naïve barista in preceding years. I was also a bad barista who couldn’t put together his order of a: double tall, split-shot, two-thirds full, one sweet n’ low, one equal, light foam, non-fat latté.

In a big way Howard’s experience of me when he would drop by was representative of the system decline he noticed as a customer. He saw a shift in company culture, training regimen, and store practices. A few causes for this were misguided direction, strategy mismatch, and leadership flux.

I feel he made change to SBUX course because of:

  1. Sticking to the Vision
  2. Correcting Culture
  3. Training Improvement
  4. Root Cause Process Analysis

I’d been wanting to catch Howard in public for years especially after doing case studies of Starbucks turnaround in biz school. Most important I wanted to thank him as a person for being kind and gracious to myself, regular partners, and people. I’m glad I finally got to repay him with some words while we both enjoyed the new Roastery.

So, thanks Howard.  Thanks for seeing problems as top-down issues. Thanks for seeking root causes. Thanks for SuperSonics tickets you gave me ages ago. Thanks for never chewing me out. Thanks for your leadership example.

*Addendum* NO, I do not blame Schultz for selling the SuperSonics. To my Seattle people, we have many other billionaires who can bring the NBA back. YES, Starbucks #RaceTogether is a good social campaign of global concern. I do not know of any other northwest corporations that are as brave in seeking to bring justice and righteousness to the fore. 

2014 FANHS Conference – RECAP

I represented FANHS Seattle and NU at the beautiful Kona Kai Resort in San Diego last week. It was a privilege and amazing fulfillment of blessing and academic work to share new history research there.

1938 Senior Class, Northwest University Archives.

1938 Senior Class photo, Northwest University Archives.

IMG_0108.JPG On a bright tropical day I walked into a conference room to show recently uncovered archive images I’d curated. I began telling the story of how I was walking through a school hallway and noticed an image of Ilocano men peppered into the 1937 student body picture of Northwest University. I brought attendees with me through the past about the unknown connections between the Manong Generation, Seattle’s Chinatown and the World Assemblies of God (AG). A forgotten American and Christian experience was remembered.

At the biennial Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) 2014 Conference there were many different people. Professors from academia, psychologists, military officers, community activists, artists and of course historians were present. Oddly, I wasn’t around hundreds of strangers. A lot of people from across America knew my family from time they spent in Seattle. They were involved in basketball with some, or were on the FYA drill team with others. I couldn’t escape my relatives even traveling alone in California!

VP B. Bergano of FANHS Seattle

VP – B. Bergano of FANHS Seattle

Unlike others that discussed military history, facilitated cultural workshops, discussed identity issues or political struggles, my work highlighted archive research methods and social analysis.  From attending other history panels, I had the pleasure of meeting Tony Ogilvie, who was the Executive Dean at Seattle Central College, and Professor Emily Lawsin from the University of Michigan. Both were willing to collaborate on future work. I sat in also on FREDtalks put on by Julius Paras where many retold their own personal stories.

“People would ask me ‘What are you?’ and I’d say ‘I’m an American cause that’s what my Mom said!’…” – Dorothy Cordova

A big highlight was a preview of the upcoming documentary film called “Dorothy and Fred”, highlighting the life work of the Cordovas from Seattle to bring the Filipino experience into the American history mainstream. See below:

Dorothy and Fred Documentary Teaser from Sabado Productions on Vimeo.

Continue reading

A Brief Global History of Kaizen Development

How do the first supermarkets, a fabric weaver, and losing WWII create the Toyota Production System (TPS)? The Kaizen or Lean system of management has expanded beyond the Toyota Motor Corporation. TPS and Kaizen’s roots should not be singularly attributed to one person or one country.  Although refined in Japan, the concepts of Kaizen stem from Western ideas and business practices along with Eastern precepts.  The history of who was involved and where they found ideas presents an interesting global stage.  Innovators such as Henry Ford, Deming, and Shewhart have strong influence in Kaizen along with Toyoda, Ohno, and Shingo.  As the practice of Kaizen continues into new industries and countries, it’s philosophies and models become iterative and recontextualize practice and meaning.  Kaizen is inherently innovative, and promotes continuous improvement.  The system itself will certainly continue to transform enterprise, products, and services. The following paper outlines some of the history, people, methodologies, and events that have moved TPS across the globe.  The depth and understanding of Kaizen goes farther and will continue to change. | a work by Devin Cabanilla © | ——————————————————– In 1890 a small textile company in Japan made a small improvement in the looms they used to make cloth. Sakichi Toyoda would begin to incrementally improve how their machines weaved fabric through the next 40 years (Toyota Industries, 2013).  Eventually the small loom company would become the largest auto manufacturer in the modern era: Toyota Motor Corporation.  The spirit of creating not better fabric, but the spirit of continuously improving a process is credited as being the forerunner to the system that Toyota uses.  TPS as an innovative means has combined problem solving, human philosophy, process improvement, and innovative thinking methods (Liker & Hoseus, 2008).  What Sakichi Toyoda began in 1890 grew beyond looms, but TPS success did not grow only by his direction.  The Toyota Production System, and the Kaizen philosophy that it is built on, has been called Lean Manufacturing in the US. Many points of TPS have non-Japanese origins. The system is still revised and innovated with the collaboration of new industries, multiple global forces, players, and concepts. Ironically, Japan innovated and became successful in growing TPS by losing World War II in 1945.  In this time, what was the Toyoda Loom Works had expanded to automobile manufacturing.  The injection of ideas from W. Edwards Deming and Training Within Industry practices (TWI) arrived to reconstruct post-war Japan based on a program developed by the US War Manpower Commission (Liker & Meier, 2007, p. 35).  Ohno (1988) indicates that success at TPS and losing in WWII fragmented Japanese industry, even the Kaizen methodologies they began would not be accepted widely by Japan until the oil crisis of the 1970’s (p. xii).  Toyota’s reconstruction period president, Toyoda Kiichiro eagerly assimilated US production practices while exclaiming, “Catch up with America in three years. Otherwise, the automobile industry of Japan will not survive” (Ohno, p. 3).  Again in another paradox, the utilization of TWI in Japan would become standardized by Toyota, but ignored in the US post-war (TWI Institute, 2013).  TWI became an essential tool to help employees maintain Kaizen activities and keep consistent organizational practices normative.  It’s consistent practice of learning through seeing, doing, and acting were imperative; the application of standardized written instructions for all processes and practices made understanding and spreading information essential. Kaizen was able to maintain its circulation organizationally with Training Within Industry as a piece of the Toyota Production System. Continue reading

Present With Visual Movement

An excellent presentation platform is Prezi.  It allows for sharing information in a visual dynamic manner.

prezi1My primary points when being a speaker with visuals are as follows in no particular order:

1. Keep the audience’s interest.

2. Use more imagery than text.

3. Text in presentations should be minimal, and BIG when it is used.

4. Create a sense of movement and flow in presentation visuals.

5.  The audience should be listening to your voice more than they are reading screens.

Here’s a recent work I finished combining different innovation methods into Kaizen and identifying how to stimulate stagnant systems.  The linked Prezi is more about showing visual style.  Much of the content was spoken.  No audio, so focus on the flow and use of imagery.

Intangible Business Objectives: Getting Seattle an NBA Team

“We put Seattle’s best foot forward.” -Chris Hansen

Why is money not important in business objectives? Objectives of some enterprises are not always profit-driven.  Bidding on the Sacramento Kings to become the new Seattle Supersonics is a good case to look back on. Chris Hansen is a billionaire hedge fund manager who knows about strategy, finance, and also intangible objectives.  Overall, the resources put towards trying to buy the Kings was not solely for profitability, but a civic-minded objective.  The goal is to get the NBA back to Seattle, regardless of cost, time, or effort.

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Here’s a rundown of what this project has taken:

2 1/2 years of planning

$70M in real estate purchased

$625M final bidding offer (raised from bid of $550M)

$200M arena (primarily private backing)

With all of this the Seattle offer was lost, and many would say that the efforts made in the bidding process were a loss as well.  Chris Hansen still says he will continue.  The NBA chose against the lucrative offer and kept the Kings in Sacramento for $535M and Hansen losing $30M for a myriad of political and business reasons.

Chris Hansen reflects still:

 “I think first and foremost we have a great city.”

More aptly the project of Hansen trying to get Seattle into the NBA is a social enterprise.  We often attribute non-profits into this category. Yet, the social enterprise is different in that they provide a qualitative and quantitative value as a return.  Profit can be made, but the objective is not that alone.  Unlike many business owners Chris Hansen is pursuing an intangible objective of making his hometown of Seattle greater.  (as a multi-millionaire he can afford to pursue this massive pet project) Although idealistic, organizations do exist to promote just that: ideals.

::by dcabanilla

Idea Reading in Powerpoint

Have you ever read whole paragraphs during a meeting in powerpoint slides?

Powerpoint for business training and graduate presentations is part of my daily work. Communication in business is extremely important but sometimes poorly executed.   Far too often my colleagues make slides that are used as their speaking solely points.  They do not use slides to convey ideas.

When people get storytime in a professional setting, they will fall asleep to your ideas.

See example of an extreme idea reading slide:


1. If all information is present on a slide they don’t need notes and will present better speaking from the screen.

2. Others are fearful that too little information won’t show enough work was done.

3. As such a wordy slide can become a crutch. Presenting in front of groups for business, academic, or public settings can be scary. The PPT can become a place for support.

4. There exists a plain ignorance of how to use PPT communicating in general.

5. Communicating ideas is not understood as a method.

Don’t do it.