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QECI VS. QECII: Innovation Vital for 21st Century Success

During my business leadership days, I advocated a corporate and operational strategy via the acronym, “QECI”.  This abbreviation did not stand for a sick feeling in one’s gut. No – it stood for Quality, Excellence, and Continuous Improvement.  

However, after reading That Used To Be Us – How America Fell behind In the World It Invented – And How We Can Come Back, I’m compelled to add another “I” to my acronym.  In other words, “QECI” now becomes “QECII” – now standing for Quality, Excellence, Continuous Improvement and Innovation.

The book is written by Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum. Friedman is the guy who wrote The World Is Flat. Mandelbaum is a professor at the John Hopkins University and the author of 12 books including The Ideas That Conquered the World.

As I’m sure many know, Friedman is a bit of a leftist. Yet he makes many keen observations in this book – and a number of good arguments for the role of Government in partnership with free enterprise.

As a strong free-market capitalist and conservative, I must say I find many of their observations and perceptions enlightening and of value. Certainly Clash readers would benefit from this keen summary of the challenges we face as a nation and as the declining leader of the free world. I think many thinking readers would appreciate this thoughtful book. I’m sure those interested can pick it up at the library or read it on Kindle or on-line.

Starting on page 57 and ending on page 65, for instance, is the best summary of the rapid changes that are impacting our world via “hyper-connectivity” – as the authors put it.

It is becoming increasingly clear that one can become a dinosaur in only a few years by failing to keep up with the technological explosion that is surrounding the world today.  Failing to properly utilize technology in business, in one’s personal life, and in one’s personal “mission” is irresponsible. Clearly, God has given us these new capabilities to be used for the betterment of all mankind – as the book points out.

Friedman and Mandelbaum point out most emphatically in their book the importance of continuous innovation in the success of any business, enterprise and/or operation.  And they argue that innovation must involve an entire organization, and not be centered solely on senior management, research, and engineering, as in years past.  

They say, “Given the rising innovative power and knowledge that can so easily move (be communicated) from the bottom up now – the power to invent, design, manufacture, improve, and sell products” is unprecedented and an absolute necessity, today, if one wants their enterprise to be a leader. 

In other words, continuous innovation and improvement must be encouraged from the bottom up. Everyone in an organization must be looking for a better way, a more productive way, a less expensive way, a faster way, a more efficient way.  And that philosophy should apply not only to the factory floor and to the research and engineering departments – but to the office – to the administration – to sales and marketing – and to every facet of an enterprise.

Interestingly,  Curtis Carlson, CEO of SRI International, is quoted as saying, “Innovation that happens from the top down tends to be orderly but dumb.   Innovation that happens from the bottom up tends to be chaotic but smart.”

So the old Pauwels’ QECI philosophy has also improved.  It’s now QECII: Quality, Excellence, Continuous Improvement and Innovation.

I trust you’ll improve with QECII, and everyday use it to your organization’s best advantage.



William Pauwels

William A. Pauwels, Sr. was born in Jackson Michigan to a Belgian, immigrant, entrepreneurial family. Bill is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and served in executive and/or leadership positions at Thomson Industries, Inc., Dow Corning, Loctite and Sherwin-Williams. He is currently CIO of Pauwels Private Investment Practice. He's been commenting on matters political/economic/philosophical since 1980.

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