Kaizen critics on Innovation: Sustaining Innovation is not Kaizen!

The rapid change of the world makes innovation a lethal weapon to become a big part of solution to bring about countries, companies, or communities to a useful change that hopefully take them to the top the leading pack in the world. Little research on the topic could give many hints that innovation is the key. There are now disruptive innovation, cultural innovation, reverse innovation and other terms that use innovations as the key.

However, the overwhelming topic of innovation that filled the market has overshadowed some important not so radical, slow and not extreme change that comes from continuous improvement that actually be the backbone of many leading companies in the world. The power of kaizen culture which embedded in top leader of the pack has been uncover in the book The high-velocity edge by Steven Spear seems to be undermined by the amount of innovation books and its varieties on the market.

Java Printing

I am not against innovation because I understand that without innovation no companies could ever bare their existence let alone leading. innovation is the key. I really enjoy reading books on innovation especially books by Clayton M. Christensen which really is the result of his in-depth research and reflection about the world of innovation.

My argument about innovation is that most of the books on innovations discussed about big changes that will lead to strategic/big step. My take on current innovation paradigm is that innovation is not enough because we still need kaizen. Some people say that kaizen is innovation also, but it really is not. The rule of thumbs is what your mind perceived what innovation is, reduce it by factor of at least 100.

When for example Clayton M. Christensen tried to detail innovation into a more elaborate by dividing it further into Disruptive and Sustaining Innovation. People get confuse because first, where is then Kaizen? Second,  a strange combination of words is used (Sustaining Innovation!).

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The Innovator’s Dilemma (Christensen 1997) identified two distinct categories—sustaining and disruptive—based on the circumstances of innovation.

  1. Sustaining Innovation : when the race entails making better products that can be sold for more money to attractive customers—we found that incumbents almost always prevail.
  2. Disruptive Innovation :when the challenge is to commercialize a simpler, more convenient product that sells for less money and appeals to a new or unattractive customer set—the entrants are likely to beat the incumbents. This is the phenomenon that so frequently defeats successful companies. It implies, of course, that the best way for upstarts to attack established competitors is to disrupt them. (Low end disruption and New market disruption)

Confusion happen among the practitioner of whether Sustaining Innovation is Kaizen because it is also about making better products to attractive customers. Additionally, two words of sustaining and innovation are both contradictory in nature in a way that when innovation happen, change happen and it moves the object of innovation to some future state.Thus actually it is inappropriate to give the name “sustain”. Sustain means almost equally to maintain. Hence it means the innovation going nowhere but only maintain and hence going nowhere.

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History wise, the Kaizen term exist already since 1986 which is kaizen/continuous improvement which small incremental improvement. However, it seems that the founder of kaizen concept had predicted that confusion between Innovation and Kaizen will likely to happen.

This big misconception has been cleared before by Masaaki Imai in 1986, a notable quality philosopher and practitioner and the founder of Japanese consulting company namely Kaizen Institute or best known by the west as the father of Continuous Improvement. Misconception of innovation happen when people associate immediately innovation with improvement. The truth is that innovation indeed is improvement but improvement is not just innovation. Improvement consist of Kaizen and Innovation in which until the next innovation, kaizen will improve the system little by little.

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From the graph it is clear that Kaizen perfected Innovation. It means that any types of Innovation whether it is disruptive innovation, cultural innovation, reverse innovation will be make perfect by following through with Kaizen afterwards. Kaizen will target improvement until next innovation.

Hence it is very clear that innovation itself is insufficient to create a winning edge and that innovation coupled with relentless kaizen become the ultimate answer. This is why in my opinion, despite of the effort to rally with other companies toward Innovation from generating, managing, until applying innovation many firms still happen to be in the lower league. Because Innovation without Kaizen is just like “Pound Saving, Penny Foolish”. It seems good that you get to save many Pounds, but other companies take care also every Pennies possible with Kaizen and overtime they who cares for both thrives.

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Where productivity comes from? Relation between Quality, Lean, Efficiency

From my last post about over months ago, we have grasped the idea and underlying concept of Lean. That the divine purpose of Lean is to give value to customer. Lean means providing value to customer.

5 principles of Lean

In previous post also, we know that there are fundamentally 5 Principles of Lean which are:

  1. Specify value for the customer
  2. Integrate Value Stream
  3. Create Flow
  4. Pull from the customer
  5. Aim for perfection

Looking deeply between the initial definition and the 5 principles of Lean. It seems logically correct that providing value to customer is indeed will be achieved through all the 5 principles of Lean. However, this indeed is also a deception for many.

Not that I say those principles are useless, on the other hand, people has to know those principles by heart. Despite of that, in my opinion, 5 Principles of Lean are not comprehensive enough in serving higher purpose of providing value to customer because it somehow lacks of comprehensiveness. If we look at those all 5 principles and pondering on those points, we can have assumptions that Lean is all about efficient of operations to provide value by means of faster, responsive and flexible operation by implementing integrated value stream, flow, pull and then aim for perfection.

Java Printing

These points have failed to serve the true comprehensive definition of lean which is providing value to customer because it simply do not pay attention to “quality” matter. In fact, none of the 5 principles seems to talk about quality (poka yoke, inspection, culture of quality).  This had led many to miss-understanding that lean is just efficiency (value stream, flow, pull). Lean comprise efficiency indeed, but not only that. It is also quality and all that is required to bring value to customers.

Because as we come back to the true definition of lean that is providing value to customer, we realize that Lean defintion is larger than 5 principles of lean itself.

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That ambiguous translation from basic definition of Lean into the principles of Lean, make a miss-conception about achieving Lean in relation with improvement culture. Improvement has twofold and people have always been mistaken when talk about improvement. Lean improvement as perceived by most people as working toward a more efficient operations is preferable in most case because it gives a sense of boost to ongoing operations and increasing productivity. On the other hand,   quality improvement sometimes not as popular because for many it just don’t seems boost their production quota. So, they tend to prefer efficient improvement compare to quality improvement.

People has mistakenly grasped the concept of improvement that they tend to associate improvement to efficiency because by and far, it will boost productivity quickly. This is bad in a long term because quality is stronger and has a bigger impact in a sense that on the long term, focus on quality improving productivity and increasing quality. Both quality and efficiency however have similarity in the need to specify customer value and strive for perfection.

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Sometimes we deeply understand about the need for efficiency improvement because it directly impact our output in short term. But those who forget to deal with improving quality is in the long term will be definite loser because while you neglect quality, others not. They improve productivity through both quality (inspection, poka yoke devices) and efficiency (integrate value stream, flow, pull)  improvements of operations which give them a twofold advantage to their productivity increase compare to those who only care about increasing efficiency.

So, I want to again stress that the 5 principles of Lean is in fact very important to remember. But one shall never forget the in-comprehensiveness of the principles and that the fundamental definition of lean is always comes first.

Lean is providing value to the customers.

How to built Quality into a process: a lesson from Shigeo Shingo

Lately, I am quite busy and overwhelmed because of so many things I have to do right now. From doing many reports in my workplace as well as continuing a research project for university. However, I really so into and passionate in doing the research project particularly because the topic that I work in is both my passion and my work. I am now researching theories about Quality especially how to create a culture of quality and found a classic book from Shigeo Shingo which I fall in love with. The book is titled Zero Quality Control. I admire the wisdom he has at that time that even many people or companies today might not know about it yet. Here I will share some of his important view on built-in quality.

Young business woman presenting colorful charts and diagrams

In summary, he elaborate on his journey on finding the most effective inspection method to built quality into the process. Those three inspection methods are all currently use all over the world right now, but as he said personally that sometimes people do not know what is the right one for them and in what situation they have to use it. Those inspection systems are:

    1. Judgment inspections (inspections that discover defects)
    2. Informative inspections (inspections that reduce defects)
    3. Source inspections (inspections that eliminate defects)

Next several weeks I will try to explain what is the really the difference among them. Additionally, it is worth to mentioned here that Shigeo Shingo give a basic recipe of how to built quality into your process.Those are:

  1. Use source inspection
  2. Always use 100 percent inspections rather than sampling inspections.
  3. Minimize the time it takes to carry out correction action when abnormalities appear.
  4. Human workers are not infallible. people are human and set up effective poka-yoke devices accordingly as control functions.

Deceiving Industry with Quality: How Customers could Give the right signal of Quality?

People in the business are busy defining the definition of Quality for them to be better at producing, delivering and satisfying for the benefits of customers. However, sadly, many customers still deceived by these terms of quality that people or customer of often said that if they want a high quality then there will have to incur high cost. “Good products means high cost”

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As a customers, we see much too often that buying a quality product is about getting information from another people such as our friends, colleagues, or review of great product and then determined which one is quality product according to them and go to store and buy it.

What happen is sometimes people forget that quality products means that this product fulfilled customer’s satisfaction and that customer that is satisfied is actually is  “us” or “we” or in your case is “you”. At the beginning, quality is defined as those products that could best match and fulfilled customer’s needs. With this definition, I therefore sometimes feels awkward when I heard inside a store when a person tries to buy a high quality product merely for the sake that it is deemed good by the product label or a review from a reviewer body such as review in YouTube or any articles or professional reference magazines.

I am not trying to point out that these sources of information that tries to provide customers with the best possible references of current best high quality product is useless. It is indeed, the other way around. These references will be so much helpful for customers to know the average high quality product as perceived by the so called representation of customers such as YouTube, or some other reviewers online in internet or offline. However, the real customer is a single one of us that go into the store and buy a product. Therefore, when a customer go into a store, they have to realize that buying a high quality product means buying a product that best fit with their needs because high quality products as perceived by company that many company tries to capture is to make a product that best fit your needs.

when a customer go into a store, they have to realize that buying a high quality product means buying a product that best fit with their needs because high quality products as perceived by company that many company tries to capture is to make a product that best fit your needs.

Buying a product only because you think that the product have a high quality as labeled by reviewers or manufacturers is deceiving for a long term. It is because in the long run, if customers buying high quality products that actually they don’t really need, they unfortunately send a sign to the manufacturers that the product that they produced is indeed have a high quality as it sold good in the market. Thus, at the end, Industry will have a false impression of a good quality product.

As we can see in the picture above, we as a customer sometimes easy to see that the product is not conform with the level of quality that we should have, but not with the case with detecting and acknowledging that there are also some products that actually we don’t need and do not conform with our needs because they are just over-qualified.

chinese female shopping

Over-qualified products get noticed from the effects after we buy this kind of products. We will likely never use many features that it have because it seems so advance and cool in the advertisement but actually we never actually need it or inappropriate at time of use. Therefore, we will just usually store it in our house because it seems have a value and function that will benefited us at the time of buying, but when it comes to using the product there are simply no place and proper time to use it.

Think about a very nice high tech Hand phone you bought or a very nice dressed that you bought. How many feature in our Hand phone that we don’t actually need and how many nice dressed that we thought it will be nice to buy it and wear it to a huge event in which this event will never yet come.

Buying high quality product is to buy a product that best fit your need.

Because every company in the world will do anything to create product that best fit your need, then why you are buying a product that is under-qualified or over-qualified to fit your need. Sometimes illusion of advertisement will make us buy this over-qualified product and the sense of security of spending money will make us buy all the under qualified product that will not fulfill our needs.But the best to gift signal for companies all around the world to be better at reading customers’ real needs or quality level is to show them by buying only the products that we really need.

Supermarket Stocktaking, Happiness in Working and a Lesson of Variation

I am considered myself as a kind of person who is so interested on listening more than speaking. For me, being able to listen to ideas, a glimpse of someone else’s life experiences or a feeling of someone about something is so inspiring. I can learn from the story and get an idea of things that I had not realize before because I just never thought it would be possible, never experienced it myself, or simply didn’t know that such a thing could exist. By listening more, I can open myself to the presumption world that I previously held  to a new perception of the world as I listen to the story of people around me.

This post is referring to my comment on my dialogue with one of my friends. He has an interesting experience in which I had not any experience on  being employed in the type of industry he was in. It was all begin in a totally normal day. After lunch, we had a normal afternoon chat that suddenly led to a story of his previous employment in Supermarket Industry. Due to my curiosity, I started to ask probing questions that led him to tell his own experience working in a supermarket with a role as an assistant store manager with most activities that deal with audits.

What caught my attention was when he talked about his experience in stock taking procedure and penalty that he did in his time (and I believe still many also have the same principles even until this time). He told me that in his company, stock deviation from the ideal value of difference between beginning of month and end of the month in comparison with actual reality value of difference between beginning of month and end of the month difference will be assigned to store employees. It means that, if beginning of month stock minus sold product in that month ( which this become ideal end of month stock) is not the same as actual counting at the end of month stock, then the difference between ideal and actual counting in the form of amount of money will be paid together by employees from their salary to substitute lost products .

When he told this, I quickly recalled a wise words from Dr.Deming. Then, I found the exact same story that happen in Deming’s book titled “Out of The Crisis” in 1982. Deming has already elaborated what is wrong with this kind of system setup and why management not only in manufacturing industry but in all industry, even government, education, and any systems that has management on top of it has to learn the knowledge of variation.

Stock counting at the end of the month, if deviated from the ideal amount, can cause from many factors. the accuracy of inventory system, security of store from thieves, logistics in store, and still many other factors. It is indeed easy to directly attributing lost of stocks to employees for replacing the money that lost with the assumption that all lost rooted in the negligence of employees to prevent it from lost without looking into details about the root cause. However, by doing this, it is also easy to get trap into a bad system where everyone is dissatisfied, work is stressful, and at the end surviving will be impossible if not very difficult without sacrificing employees.

Actor businesswoman express sadness isolated in white

Imagine a staff that start to work in a company with a good pride. He and the company both have an expectation on both sides. The employee starts with a willingness to contribute to the company maybe even thinking that this company that he will start to work will be even better, fun and fulfilling. It is also the same good expectation that come from the company that hired this employee, because after all resources available in company’s labor pool has been filtered, this man has the best fit with the company to help reaching for the company’s goal. The new employee is ready to grow with the company and contributing the best effort possible. Isn’t that exactly what we feel when we want to start working in a new company? Excited! Happy! Want to prove ourselves! and having better a time? Sadly, this man so shocked to find the fact that even though he begin his job by working as hard as he can with the will of contributing his maximum effort and with their own heart and soul trying to be nice to every customers coming to the shop, he finds himself at the end of the month getting paid with less salary than promised and that they ought to receive it due to stocks lost that they don’t have any ideas at all of  how it could be lost, why they have to be the one who take the risk of something they just don’t have any idea about, and the fact that he cannot improve or doing anything about it.

Drawing from the world of manufacturing, this could be seen as assigning defect of products to the workers that works in assembly line. Whenever there are defects, put the blame on workers with the reason that workers are the one who actually works assembling all parts into a product. This obsolete philosophy have proven to be a downfall of manufacturing industries before Japan could set the pace again and followed by a reparation to systems of managing manufacturing in other countries and companies.

People in management should as Deming urge long time ago and yet still valid, realize that there are two types of variation (natural/normal variation and assignable/special variation) Classifying defects in case of lost product in supermarket into these two kinds of variation classification will give us more insights. If a defect/lost product happen, manager should be able to determine if this will attributable to workers/store employees or to system that managed by management. The action directly blaming workers for a system problem then is not a wise act of management because normal variation and special variation should be handled in different ways. .To learn more about differentiating this, I would suggest reading “Out of The Crisis” or “The New Economics” by Deming.

Young business woman presenting colorful charts and diagrams

As we came to know that those defects or lost of products are caused by system, then improvement to a system could reduce the lost of product. In relation with supermarket system, let’s take one defect example of lost product. Previous assumption is that employees should watch closely everyone on the store so that no product is lost, but employees indeed can be forget or not paying attention to someone stealing because fatigue which so normal. What is not normal is to assign tasks that obviously normal people with normal capability cannot do and give them penalty for it.  In fact, lost product happen also because the environment provided thieves to steal some products despite of the hardworking that employees have done in preventing it. This environment setup is management job. A system should be setup by management to prevent lost from happening by creating a better environment for employees to work and a better system to prevent lost of products. Usual flow is that mistakes that management makes is attributed that should be management responsibilities (system design and improvement) are all assigned to employees.

What can we learn from Indonesia’s Governor Jokowi : Leadership and System

Jokowi is a name that is probably unknown for people that lives outside Indonesia. It not uncommon that his name was not being heard, because even in Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia, his name could only be heard for first time in the late of 2012 where people started to get awareness of him. Currently, he is a newly elected Indonesia’s Governor which for many people sparks a new light of hope in Jakarta City.

 

I am not interested to discuss about government or the best ways to manage a city. Instead, we will use him as an example of how a high velocity organization could arise not only in manufacturing, service industry, or military, but also in public administration system. Yes, yes,  I know that Jokowi has just been elected as a Governor of Jakarta around fourth quarter of year 2012. But we will later see, as I elaborate later, why I think that his management system will end successfully.

Watching people managing any systems is the same as watching a football match, you knew already who will win the match before the match over by watching both teams play. But you will still wait ‘till the end of the game to make sure that there is no coincidence that the other team unexpectedly win. Good managed team will win 90 % of the time while the rest of 10% is attributable to special variation.

In football game, those persons that often watch football match will know that a particular team will win against another before the game is ended. The way strategy is being executed in the football field will shows how the players play together, using each persons’ skills and combining strength to reach synergy that collectively create a good play. A good team come from a good manager. A good manager might not be the best player in the field. He could be the best player, but for sure he is at best at managing system. A good system will triumph most of the time, with some special minor exception of good system that failed to succeed. 

Companies in any industries has a role of managing its system. The unique things is that they all have different products as well as customers. Hospital, Manufacturing, Tourism, Public Administration. Thus, there are different ways to deal with managing system in each of these industries. However, managing a system is always have the same principal across industries, with some modifications to the industry we are trying to apply it in.  Here, I will present some facts across industries that mainly drawn out from my main industry of expertise which is automobile and try to show you how Jokowi acts matches with what has been a successful and proven philosophy in the world of automobile.

1. To change a system, you cannot be inside it.

Jokowi know this very well. He is not trying to change the system by being inside it, but he directly go “on top of it”. Unless we have one person that can changed the system on the top of organization’s pyramid, we cannot changed it by entering into it. We have to be above it. There is no use if you have an idea that could significantly changed the system when you are down below pyramid in a bad system. It is because in a bad system, your good idea considered as bad. because bad system nurtured bad ideas. Thus, only bad ideas goes into the top of the pyramid and got heard.

Jokowi is not trying to be hired as an employee, but he aimed for the top. He knew that if he want to changed the system, it has to be from the top. Many times good and diligent people got into a bad system and in no time these people tired of challenging bad inertia in the bad culture that has already ingrained and these good and diligent people become adapted to a bad system by producing bad ideas and doing unproductive activities.

Many cases that geniuses that have great academic records, or good carrier in foreign country, when they tried to come back to build their own country, they are shocked that they found their brilliant ideas are not working. People do not agree, not supporting it, or maybe no one believes it.

Mr. Habibie is so great at anything about airplane. He foretold “I want to make an airplane for my country”. He is more than a genius. But again,  in a bad system, he just not fit. He successfully created PT.Dirgantara, but it wasn’t successful because that time he has to interact with a bad system that exist in the country. Bad system is like a disease, it spreads to others around it so quick.

 

2. Create a system perspective for everyone

Everyone could work hard and do their best but still at the end the result is failed. As Dr.Deming said, it is no use to do your work as best as possible. We have to do the right things before we do our best. To make people able to evaluate themselves that they have already do the right things, people has to understand their position within a system and hence they know how to contribute to it.

In Toyota and in high velocity organization such as Pratt & Whitney’s, Southwest, Alcoa, and other leader in their own industries, knowledge of how a particular section or job fit into a whole system is very important to know for all the people inside the system. Toyota have always explained and educated a new employee about his role and responsibility. But in addition to that, Toyota makes sure that this new employee also know about how his role and responsibility will impact the whole system by explaining the whole system from manufacturing, quality , engineering ,design and so on.

Taking complex system, then divided it into parts, try to manage each part as best as possible is absolutely false. Because it tries to improve each part taken separately and destroyed the system. It is like taking a big mirror from store and you break the mirror into parts for optimization in carrying it to your house and when you reach your house, you reassemble the mirror again, and you are then shock that the mirror looks different, it do not work when you want to look at yourself and the parts seems not fit together as it was in the store. Because It simply have broken.

Jokowi tries to fit everyone to the whole picture by not only making everyone realizes their role and responsibility within a system of public administration, but also that he shows to all employees about the whole system. For example, he put out a YouTube channel that could be seen by all employees so that employees know what really governor do and what really happening in other sections of public administration so that they can really contribute by doing the right things at their best.

3. Going to “Gemba” and “Genchi Genbutsu”

Gemba is a Japanese term that means real place while Genchi Genbutsu means to look by yourself the particular physical things that being a concern. People in automobile always use this concept of management extensively. Managing from office is not enough because paper based management neglect real concerns. By the time the problem is translated into paper and travel to office as a report, many things has already been happened and information may also lost in the way or got distorted by the time it reached office. Additionally, information, if not getting distorted it will somehow go perish and by the time people from the office try to reconstruct the problem, all people connected to it has forgot about it or the environment has already simply changed. It is because Information has a characteristic of sensitive to distortion and perishable. 

Thus, going to Gemba will means getting problem found from the right persons in timely manner, isolate as quickly as possible before spreading, and solve as soon as it arise. Going to Gemba also means Genchi genbutsu or seeing the real thing as it is.

Jokowi really knows the values of going to Gemba and Genchi Genbutsu. He first of all realizes that civilian in Jakarta is his customers and the success of his organization is the satisfaction of customers. Therefore, getting the customers’ concern is a top priority. He knows very well that customers is where he could really get the real problem on time without distortion and therefore despite of all the accusation that he is wasting time, he still do go to Gemba.

 

In addition, Jokowi’s success in Solo city where he lead for several years as Governor before he became governor of Jakarta is not merely because of he is a superpower person or a very genius person. He might be one of them, but alone, only destructive change that could result ( firing, hiring, penalty, force procedures). Instead, he manages the system with constructive change that can only be achieved through collaboration and cooperation that obviously not a work of a single hero. Thus, those leader that could really turn the situation is good at managing collaboration and cooperation as a vehicle to constructive change. Instead of using power to generate policy that is destructive to system. These leaders can use it to create collaboration that will be fruitful as these leaders believe that change should come from collaboration that arise from a system management. This will make a lasting change even after the leader is not anymore responsible for the system because the system has already built, run, and improve itself.

Leader’s Job is to lead not merely giving orders.

Transformation to Sustainability : “Green” tagline is only for the Customers.

Several years ago, human was so interested in the extraction of nature to support the life of people in the earth. It was before the decreasing supply of nature due to over-extraction that the necessity to find alternative of sources to make the earth more sustainable take place. Today, we see in many places taglines of green living, sustainable earth or care nature that urge people to preserve and even cultivate again our nature that has been destructed by extraction without control.

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This week, I went shopping as part of my regular “ weekly things to do” except, this time I got in into a very long queue line in the supermarket’s cashier. Then I realized that it is 5p.m. and as usual in this time many people going back from work and stop in supermarket for quick shopping for dinner or just grab some foods for their stock. In this long queue, I saw a plastic bag that I took the picture of it. During the queue, I reflected in my mind about how this plastic bag could be there in the supermarket, when people outside have put a large banners and costly commercials of how people should live by “going green”.

What caught me right away first of all is how the plastic bag could be there, but then having take a look into the detail, I could also see a text that stated Reduce Use of Plastic Bag..Refuse, Reuse, Recycle”. Those two reasons are quite provoking to start a post in this blog for it is an example of going to the wrong way from kaizen or continuous improvement. An example of a good and right  intention that wrongly planned as well as executed.

So, why not begin from looking at the supply chain. All products will have the same flow which basically begin from Supplier to Manufacturer to Logistics and at the end to Retailer that directly has contact with Customers that is us. Then, we have an issue that plastic bag is bad for the nature as we have seen before in the text located in the plastic bag ( “Reduce Use of Plastic Bag..Refuse, Reuse, Recycle”). From this, it is clear that the plastic bag is bad for nature, and that people should refuse it.

Then the question came up of why they place the decision on customers? Does customers do have bigger impacts to preserving nature by making choice of use or not use plastic bags?

I would say that if plastic bag is bad and customers should refuse it, then it should not be produced in the first place.

Supply Chain

By not producing plastic bag at all, customers will not be blamed for choosing plastic bag. Today, it seems like buying a plastic bag  is taboo for customers and plastic bag is the temptation that will always exist. It should not be like that, eliminating plastic bag from the early in supply chain could substantially decrease the problem since at the end of the day there is no plastic bag that could be bought by a customer.

Frankly, the current situation that happen is that customers go on shopping to a certain shop, they buy their product that they wish to buy, and then at the end either the cashier will ask “do you want a plastic bag ?” or in the cashier you can pick one. Either one you will have temptation to use plastic bag and most probably some people will somehow choose to use it.

Go Green. Hand with words cloud about environmental conservation

This is a system that has a flaw, if “green” means not using plastic bag, why you have plastic bag offered to you that tempted a customer to use it. Can you imagine one time, a customer that life 2 km from the shopping area and buy 3 kg of whatever it is and he/she has to carry all of his/her stuffs from the shopping area to his/her home by walking? it is certain for this type of person that if the plastic bag is offered to them, they will definitely use it.Additionally, it is not rare that some companies even put a blame on this poor guy by saying that if he knew already he has a pretty far distance to travel with huge amount of weight he should by himself be prepared by bringing a backpack or trolley.

But it seems still this solution has its flaw because since when the customer become a servant? customer is a king while the best is a partner. but it is not rational for the one who will sell product to customers to blame customers for their living condition.

It is true that apparently the existence of plastic bag is for helping this kind of person that really need to carry their stuffs. But, going green means not only customer being pushed by all the supply chain to act in terms of taking step in making a choice, but all of them that is inside the supply chain has to commit together in the green movement. Just imagine, if Supermarkets determined that they will not buy plastic bag from Logistics that is not green or not recyclable or biodegradable or even they will not use plastic at all and  buy other alternative bag, then there will be no customers that will be blame. Imagine that Logistics will also commit of not delivering these plastics and later the manufacturer will not produce it and at the end the suppliers will not supply it. Then there will be no finger pointing about who is wrong because the plastic bag simply do not exist anymore.

In plastic bag industry that relate closely with supermarkets, taglines of green line actually still aim solely toward customers. But we can take a very very nice and successful act from several other industry that prove to be work.

A company or industry that decide to support the conversion to green and sustainable living has two options:

  • Increasing the awareness of customers then produce product
  • Produce a product and then offer to customers

In the first approach, it bases on presumption that customers’ awareness of green living could influence what product that they will buy and this is one of the many ultimate reason of not beginning the transformation to green product early in the supply chain but instead delaying it by forcing customers to suffer by giving them a right and wrong choice.

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The second one, is to invent a product and offer it to customers. Basically, when we think about a product, there are two kind of how manufacturers could make a product. First type is making a product by looking at the market needs, getting the voice of customers, trying to figure out what they need and improve the product based on it. This is the first approach based on. Then, there is a second one which the customer has no idea about the product that they need at all.It is totally unimaginable for customers that before this product being produced and sold, customers have no idea that they will actually will need this and use it. (like computers, ipad, hand phone, and other product)

Many companies have gone into trap in this first approach which will bring a suffering to customers for a very long terms by trying to make them realize that green is the way of living.

Some companies is already following the second approach to transformation to a green living. There is some good examples, but let me just take two of the most important one. The first one is in the field of energy that basically try to invent green power that will later replace fossil power in the future and also in the field of transportation that replace oil power with electro or hybrid power. Both of this has taken the second approach of offering to customers a fundamentally new product that customers have not yet even imagined before.

Green power will make customers not feeling guilty anymore of using fossil power without clear alternative in front of them that they can have a much better and greener alternative. It is also the same for hybrid power. Customer will have the options to contribute to the sustainability buy buying it instead of gasoline power. For both cases, it is not easy for both industry to innovate into green power and also hybrid power since it has very big risk of replacing gasoline supply chain with hybrid supply chain and fossil with green power.

One example is Toyota hybrid car. the company has philosophy of making customers their first priority and not letting the customers to suffer between choices that they should make. The company realize that it is not right that the customers should resist themself in buying a particular cars, but it is the manufacturers that should come with alternative that still serve the same purpose but will be more incline toward caring of environment. In the first place, Toyota didn’t know that Hybrid will ever become alternative that will works, even the company didn’t know at the time of first launched. But the brave initiative for the purpose of serving both customers and the sustainability of the world leads to a solution that works for both releasing the suffering of choice that customers’ have and also contributing to sustainability of the world and society.

This way of thinking and brave decision toward green and sustainability should also emerge in other industry because to begin with the green transformation, it takes big courage from manufacturers and enormous believe that the company themselves has a will and able to contribute to bring society to green and sustainable living by starting by themselves with their own innovative product or solution. Once a manufacturer has a strong believe on this, they are most unlikely to claim to the world that they are a green and sustainable companies but what they are actually doing is putting the customers as a verdict to put a blame on.