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Pioneering Inspiration

By Karl M. Kapp, EdD, CFPIM, CIRM | May/June 2013 | 23 | 3

How to think differently about your own products

Steve Jobs By Walter IsaacsonSteve Jobs
By Walter Isaacson

Published in 2011
Simon and Shuster 
656 pages

Apple always seemed to be a hardware company. Yes, it offered plenty of software products, such as iTunes; but what really set apart Apple from other manufacturers was the hardware. It was elegant, sophisticated, and easy to use. How did Apple do it? Largely, it was Steve Jobs. 

This book provides some interesting insights into Jobs and how he made such innovative breakthroughs. One fascinating story details when Jobs decided he needed to create a mobile phone. Isaacson explains that, although iPod sales were skyrocketing in 2005, Jobs was worried. He saw the digital camera marketplace being decimated by phones equipped with cameras, and he worried that a phone with music-playing capabilities could equally damage Apple’s profitability.
After an unsuccessful attempt to partner with Motorola, Jobs tasked his team with creating a premium, hip phone. First, they tried to make it function with the track wheel, in the same manner as an iPod, but that didn’t work. Next, they created multi-touch technology, and, as the book explains, “The result was a device that displays a numerical pad when you want to dial a phone number, a typewriter keyboard when you want to write, and whatever buttons you might need for a particular activity … Having software replace hardware, the interface became fluid and flexible.” 

Then, in the eleventh hour, Jobs changed the design of the phone one more time. He wanted a thinner look. The team worked tirelessly to make the phone austere and friendly, finally arriving at the launch of the iPhone. By the end of 2010, Apple had sold 90 million of them and reaped more than half the total profits of the global cell phone market. 

Supply chain and operations management professionals would benefit from reading Steve Jobs. They will learn that it’s necessary to frequently imagine what the future might bring, develop innovations to counter those from other fields, and sometimes even cannibalize their own products. This is a long book, but if you have the time, read it. It may help you stay one step ahead of the competition.

Fostering Human  Development Through  Engineering and  Technology Education By Moshe Barak and Michael HackerFostering Human 
Development Through 
Engineering and 
Technology Education
By Moshe Barak and Michael Hacker

Published in 2011
Sense Publisher 
324 pages

The editors of this book have thoughtfully put together excerpts from a collection of authors, creating a theoretical framework for nurturing the necessary skill and knowledge to help educators, manufacturing professionals, and others forge the future of engineering and technological education. The book is a deep dive into educational delivery methods, instructional techniques, and innovative ideas that can transform students’ old ideas of manufacturing and engineering into a more realistic view. 

The book is divided into four parts. The first highlights cognitive apprenticeships, using models for teaching and problem-based learning. The idea is to let students apply knowledge to actual situations and then help them recognize their learning as they work through those experiences. 
The second section centers around engineering and technology education related to what the editors call the “human dimension.” This involves creativity in the engineering process, building self-confidence, and applying knowledge in order to create products. The decision-making process and the elements that contribute to positive decision making are explored, as well as patterns of behavior. 

The cultural dimensions of engineering and technology education are discussed in the next section. The authors describe the need for technological literacy, why technology and engineering must not be relegated only to those who have a career related to those fields, and the many ways that culture is influenced by technology. 

The fourth part highlights pedagogical dimensions—the teaching strategies that should be used to convey the knowledge of engineering and technology. This section describes a video game for teaching engineering and technology concepts and hands-on activities. 
While Fostering Human Development Through Engineering and Technology Education has a decidedly academic tone and occasionally relies on jargon, it is a valuable book. One cannot ignore the growing need for the focus on this type of education, and the points the authors make cut across disciplines and can have a real impact on the future of the profession. 

Food Safety Regulatory  Compliance: Catalyst for a Lean and Sustainable Food Supply Chain By Preston W. BlevinsFood Safety Regulatory 
Compliance: Catalyst for a Lean and Sustainable Food Supply Chain
By Preston W. Blevins

Published in 2012 
CRC Press 
342 pages

The recent horsemeat scandal in the United Kingdom has once again brought to light the importance of having a safe and well-monitored food supply chain. As stated in the beginning of this book, the food and beverage industry is comprised of producers and processors from the farm level to the multibillion-dollar corporation that aims to sell safe and nutritious food at a competitive price. The question, then, becomes: How does an organization balance the need for profit with the goal of a safe and sustainable supply chain? 

The author shares a wealth of information about managing supply and demand issues. One of the most interesting chapters outlines the top 10 challenges in food manufacturing. The first, of course, is safety. The next are closely related: automation of processes and the resultant need for skilled labor to operate increasingly sophisticated machinery, tracing product, and integrating disparate systems—from on-the-farm spreadsheets to corporate enterprise resources planning (ERP) systems. 

Related to the need for systems integration is the idea of supply chain integration. A large part of this is making sure systems are properly integrated both upstream and down. The need for effective maintenance also is highlighted as a “top 10” issue, as is the call for increased capacity and employee training. 

Food Safety Regulatory Compliance can be read start to finish, or you can open up to a particular chapter that meets an immediate need. It is filled with quizzes to check your knowledge, case studies, diagrams, screen captures, and helpful charts. Blevins provides a good look at ERP systems, compliance, sustainability, employee development, tactics for implementing best practices, and much more. Any food-related manufacturing company could potentially achieve world-class excellence with the recommended information and ideas. 

Karl M. Kapp, EdD, CFPIM, CIRM, a professor at Bloomsburg University, is author of Gadgets, Games, and Gizmos for Learning and coauthor of Integrated Learning for ERP Success. He may be contacted at kkapp@bloomu.edu.

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