“We get brilliant results from average people managing brilliant systems. Our competitors get average results from brilliant people working around broken systems.”
Yikes! Anyone else find that somewhat disturbing? I mean, I've known for a long time that the process gurus really believe a good process is a substitute for good employees, and that process can replace talent and ingenuity. But it's not often the process people get so explicit about it.
Interestingly, Dilbert's pointy haired boss made this exact point on Sunday, saying "As you know, a good process is a substitute for good employees." That line made me laugh out loud - because it's one of those truths that isn't usually stated so explicitly. And I think Adams intended that line to be funny - surely, no boss would make a statement like that to his employees. But there we have Chairman Cho basically saying the same thing.
Now, there's probably a cultural element here. Everyone in America thinks they're above average, and to be described as "average" is an insult around here. That may not be the case in Japan.
But cultural differences aside, I'm not sure it's true that process trumps talent. In fact, I think it's the opposite. Talented people can overcome bad processes. Good processes can't overcome a lack of talent, motivation, initiative, etc. But maybe that's just because my perspective is based in an R&D environment, rather than manufacturing.
So, what do you think about the Chairman's statement? Would love to get your two cents...