|By Shelly Palmer||
|January 22, 2017 11:25 AM EST|
Samsung is about to officially release the findings of its internal investigation of the potential causes for the Note 7 thermal runaway issues. Although the results of these tests have been widely reported elsewhere, the findings are still under publication embargo, so I’m not going to specifically confirm or deny anything in this writing that might be considered confidential or embargoed information. Instead, I want to explore a key takeaway from the analysis and emphasize a significant managerial flaw that is all too common in innovative organizations.
When it was released in mid-August 2016, the Note 7 was the best handheld device Samsung had ever made. Unfortunately, soon after the release date, there were reports of Note 7s spontaneously exploding or catching fire. Samsung immediately issued a recall for the suspect phones and rushed replacement Note 7s to market. Importantly, the second batch of Note 7s contained batteries designed and built by a different battery supplier (Supplier B).
Almost unbelievably, within days of the replacement Note 7s hitting the market, reports of the replacement phones exploding or catching fire started to surface. These were new Note 7s with new batteries from Supplier B. In response, the FAA banned Samsung Note 7 devices on all airline flights, and Samsung had a public relations nightmare on its hands.
Samsung’s initial responses to the issue are well documented elsewhere, so I won’t recap them here. Suffice it to say, the company went above and beyond to recall and get back every Note 7 it could. And then, management did what good management does: they launched a massive investigation to figure out what went wrong with the goal of preventing it from ever happening again. Which brings us to the present day.
Samsung built a remarkable facility to test tens of thousands of Note 7s and batteries from both battery suppliers. It hired three independent testing companies (UL, Exponent and TUVRhineland) and convened a battery advisory board whose members include Dr. Clare Grey, Professor of Chemistry, University of Cambridge; Dr. Gerbrand Ceder, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, UC Berkeley; and Dr. Yi Cui, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Stanford University.
The official results of the investigation will be published on Monday, January 23, 2017. The conclusions will cite battery design and manufacturing issues (caused, at least in part, by process) as the main reason for the thermal runaways (explosions and fires).
(When available, I will link to official results here. In the meantime, if you want to know how lithium-ion batteries work, or if you are specifically interested in what might have happened, you can read When Phones Explode for a quick overview.)
Innovate or Die!
These days, consumers expect flagship mobile devices to feature super-fast, state-of-the-art processors; thinner, waterproof cases with smaller bezels; bigger, brighter, higher-resolution screens; longer battery life with inductive charging capabilities; and anything else that can help differentiate one high-end product from another. Samsung, Apple and every other mobile manufacturer are locked in a powerful innovation vortex from which there is no escape. Innovate or die! It’s that simple.
So it should surprise no one that Samsung asked its battery suppliers to make a super-small, super-powerful battery that could outlast an iPhone, best other Android-based devices and propel Samsung to the top of the smartphone world.
This required pushing the capabilities of lithium-ion battery technology to its limits, and it relied on a set of manufacturing protocols and processes that had been in place for years. Two trusted battery suppliers that had each delivered literally billions of batteries to specification were asked to push the envelope for the Note 7. What could possibly go wrong?
Relentless Product Innovation Requires Equally Relentless Process Innovation
Unfortunately for Samsung, the pressure to innovate its products did not allow it time to innovate its processes. This is the lesson Samsung learned that you can apply to your business.
If you are committed to a culture of innovation or if you are forced by market pressure continuously to improve your products, you must also innovate and continuously improve your business processes.
How are component parts specified, ordered, quality controlled, product tested, consumer tested, revised? What systems are in place from ten years ago (when every single supplier was going to not only fight for your business but also fight to keep it) that should be adapted to the way business is done today?
No matter what the product or service, the idea of partnering or outsourcing or vendor managing is more prevalent today than ever before. Was Samsung right to trust a “time tested” process with two different suppliers that had always delivered on time, on budget and to specification? Should Samsung have known there was a risk?
I don’t have enough information to answer those questions for Samsung, but I do have enough information to answer them for the processes we use at our company, and you have enough information to answer them for yours.
Thanks, Samsung, for showing us how expert management can quickly adapt an organization (even the size of Samsung’s Mobile Communications Business) to the relentless pace of change while innovating at the highest level. And for reminding us that in every aspect of every business, “the process is the product.”
The post You Can Apply What Samsung Learned to Your Business originally appeared here on Shelly Palmer
Feb. 19, 2017 11:00 AM EST Reads: 1,521
Feb. 19, 2017 11:00 AM EST Reads: 2,877
Feb. 19, 2017 10:45 AM EST Reads: 7,621
Feb. 19, 2017 10:45 AM EST Reads: 764
Feb. 19, 2017 10:30 AM EST Reads: 6,511
Feb. 19, 2017 10:00 AM EST Reads: 851
Feb. 19, 2017 10:00 AM EST Reads: 5,684
Feb. 19, 2017 09:45 AM EST Reads: 1,141
Feb. 19, 2017 09:45 AM EST Reads: 728
Almost two-thirds of companies either have or soon will have IoT as the backbone of their business. Though, IoT is far more complex than most firms expected with a majority of IoT projects having failed. How can you not get trapped in the pitfalls? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tony Shan, Chief IoTologist at Wipro, will introduce a holistic method of IoTification, which is the process of IoTifying the existing technology portfolios and business models to adopt and leverage IoT. He will delve in...
Feb. 19, 2017 09:15 AM EST Reads: 1,013
Feb. 19, 2017 09:15 AM EST Reads: 5,030
As cloud adoption continues to transform business, today's global enterprises are challenged with managing a growing amount of information living outside of the data center. The rapid adoption of IoT and increasingly mobile workforce are exacerbating the problem. Ensuring secure data sharing and efficient backup poses capacity and bandwidth considerations as well as policy and regulatory compliance issues.
Feb. 19, 2017 09:15 AM EST Reads: 1,561
Many private cloud projects were built to deliver self-service access to development and test resources. While those clouds delivered faster access to resources, they lacked visibility, control and security needed for production deployments. In their session at 18th Cloud Expo, Steve Anderson, Product Manager at BMC Software, and Rick Lefort, Principal Technical Marketing Consultant at BMC Software, discussed how a cloud designed for production operations not only helps accelerate developer inno...
Feb. 19, 2017 09:15 AM EST Reads: 1,493
SYS-CON Events announced today that Conference Guru has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6–8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organizers to pass great dea...
Feb. 19, 2017 07:45 AM EST Reads: 1,672
SYS-CON Events announced today that LeaseWeb USA, a cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LeaseWeb is one of the world's largest hosting brands. The company helps customers define, develop and deploy IT infrastructure tailored to their exact business needs, by combining various kinds cloud solutions.
Feb. 19, 2017 07:30 AM EST Reads: 1,400