Samsung killed the Galaxy Note 7, it’s most expensive device, because its batteries were catching on fire.
Remember browsing the stacks for hours at Borders? The bookstore was so focused on its inventory system, it failed to meet demand for digital and closed up shop. These are all examples of where operations management processes failed. While Samsung was able to manage through the battery crisis Borders was not, and today is another example of a company unable to meet changes in operations necessary for survival.
Samsung is following up failure with success. After the Note’s fires, Samsung had to not only handle the immediate press crisis and stain on their brand but reconsider their processes from design through supply chain. The practices that are helping Samsung rebound and survive are what students in Kettering University’s Online Master's of Science in Operations Management learn to bring to the table.
Identifying Failure in Operations
Samsung identified ill-fitted batteries as the problem causing some phone to catch on fire. The company faulted a vendor who made the battery too small for the phones, which caused them to overheat and even catch fire. This was not only a supply issue, but a failure of communications and quality assurance. On many levels, the operations processes for Samsung failed the customer by not ensuring their product met the highest standards and was safe to use.
Experts point to Samsung’s immediate handling of this crisis as key to their recovery from what could have led to the end of their market in cellphones. They announced a global recall, issued an apology, and killed the phone. The phones were banned on airplanes, so Samsung sent employees to airports to help consumers and collect “bad” phones and replace them.
Samsung went further than simply solving the Note’s battery problem. After a months-long investigation, Samsung built a new test lab to find the root cause. The lab provided the opportunity to learn even more about Samsung phones and batteries. The device was tested for different types of charging both wired and wireless, charging speeds, and water resistance. It tested charging devices and third party apps. Today, Samsung has created a battery advisory group which is sharing information across the globe to help other manufacturers who may experience similar issues.
Now, not only does Samsung have new safety protocols in place, but their research is influencing standardizing groups. Sharing their research has been an act of goodwill to other phone and battery companies.
In a Forbes article, Maribel Lopez writes that Samsung customers will get better phones as a result of this crisis and how it was managed. Effective change management allowed operations to adapt and make products and therefore the company stronger.
Harvard Business Professor Amy Edmonson in a Harvard Business Review article suggests that building a learning culture is one way successful companies set themselves apart. She says this includes creating an atmosphere where employees feel safe to report small failures and are empowered to contribute solutions. This pushes the company to get beyond the failure and into the next phase of solutions. These are the kinds of principles students in Kettering University’s Online Master’s of Science Operations Management put into practice.
Have a Plan for Failure
Apple has a first responder team to head off problems in the first few weeks after a new product launches. It’s officially part of the AppleCare Division. Customers are encouraged to bring faulty phones directly to Apple stores where workers at the Genius Bar send the phones to the head office in Cuppertino, CA. Then a team begins to investigate issues to solve problems quickly. Apple owners think of AppleCare as an insurance policy pitched by sales people, but, it’s more than that to the company. The Division provides data to apple engineers about defects from launch through basic ownership. The information provided by the team creates early input for future designs.
A MS in Operations Management degree from Kettering University Online can be part of the solution after operations management failures. Students develop strong leadership skills and the ability to link people, performance and workflow processes, to ensure optimal efficiency. Kettering students take on real world projects at their own workplace to apply the skills and techniques needed not only in daily operations but in the case of a crisis. Solid operations management skills can aid any organization through a crisis and into the kind of changes required to keep their organization or company viable and growing.
Learn more about an M.S. in Operations Management from Kettering University Online. Click here for more information.