After Infrastructure Stimulus “Japan Is Less, Not More, Dynamic”

(p. A15) To help fight . . . economic sluggishness, Japan has invested enormously in infrastructure, building scores of bridges, tunnels, highways, and trains, as well as new airports–some barely used. The New York Times reported that, between 1991 and late 2008, the country spent $6.3 trillion on “construction-related public investment”–a staggering sum. This vast outlay has undoubtedly produced engineering marvels: in 1998, for instance, Japan completed the Akashi Kaikyō Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the world; just this year, the country began providing bullet-train service between Tokyo and the northern island of Hokkaido. The World Competitiveness Report ranks Japan’s infrastructure as seventh-best in the world and its train infrastructure as the best. But while these trillions in spending may have kept some people working, no one can look at the Japanese numbers and conclude that the money has ramped up the growth rate. Moreover, the largesse is part of the reason that the nation now labors under a crushing public debt, worth 230 percent of GDP. Japan is less, not more, dynamic after its infrastructure bonanza.

For the full commentary, see:
Edward L. Glaeser. “Notable & Quotable: Infrastructure Isn’t Always Stimulating.” The Wall Street Journal (Weds., Sept. 14, 2016): A15.
(Note: ellipsis above added; ellipsis in article title below, in original.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Sept. 13, 2016.)

The above commentary by Glaeser was quoted from the Glaeser article:
Glaeser, Edward L. “If You Build It . . . : Myths and Realities About America’s Infrastructure Spending.” City Journal 26, no. 3 (Summer 2016): 25-33.

GE Shifts Away from Six Sigma and Toward Innovation

(p. B1) One of the biggest engineering projects under way at General Electric Co. these days isn’t a turbine or locomotive. It is reinventing the way the company’s employees are assessed, reviewed and even paid.
For decades, an ideal GE worker was one adept at squeezing out product defects and almost allergic to admitting uncertainty.
Now, as the 124-year-old company refocuses itself on industrial businesses, executives say top performers are those willing to take risks, test new ideas with customers and even make mistakes.
Leaders say GE’s multiyear effort to remake itself into a leaner, innovation-driven company requires a nimble workforce that can develop products faster and more cheaply. The shift is significant for GE, whose corporate ethos had long been embodied by Six Sigma, a manufacturing system designed to eliminate error, enshrining certainty and consistency.
. . .
(p. B6) The new style of measuring employees has roots in FastWorks, a companywide initiative intended to hasten product development and ensure that customers want new products before GE spends millions building them. It is based on Lean Startup, a management system popularized by Eric Ries, a 37-year-old author and consultant GE brought in with the blessing of Chief Executive Jeff Immelt to help employees get comfortable with trial, error and experimentation.

For the full story, see:
RACHEL EMMA SILVERMAN. “GE Tries to Reinvent the Employee Review, Encouraging Risks.” The Wall Street Journal (Weds., June 8, 2016): B1 & B6.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the title “GE Re-Engineers Performance Reviews, Pay Practices.”)

Ries’s Lean Startup management system is advocated in his book:
Ries, Eric. The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses. New York: Crown Business, 2011.