Dear Quartz members—
A number of you are joining conference calls with our newsroom, and we’ve increased their frequency and tried to give you more notice of when they’re scheduled. To this end, you can add our complete schedule of upcoming conference calls to your Google calendar, by clicking here.
Quartz deputy finance editor Oliver Staley this week published a thoughtful article on Six Sigma, the system of quality control that became a corporate religion under GE CEO Jack Welch in the early 2000s. Six Sigma spread far and wide, but before long, innovation and disruption replaced quality and efficiency as primary corporate objectives. As software eclipsed manufacturing, defect reduction was no longer exciting. GE’s stature has crumbled, and as Oliver writes:
The statistical underpinnings of Six Sigma remain valid, and we should all be grateful that car and airplane makers use the system to eliminate errors. But Six Sigma was stretched far beyond its intended uses, and in many cases, was diluted into meaninglessness.
If you missed it, you can watch the member call with Oliver. You can also see Quartz readers’ responses. Excerpts of a few of my favorite ones:
- “A scientific methodology to measure and reduce errors is crucial for operational excellence. Innovation must not be brought under this methodology, however. Risk-averse behavior fits really well under operations but innovation requires the opposite until a viable product has been identified.” —Charley Edamala, CTO and associate vice president at Illinois State University
- “I remember working for a company where for a brief second I was impressed to hear how Six Sigma produced $90 million in savings in the first two years of implementation. My awe disappeared when the CFO let slip in a meeting that the cost to implement and operate Six Sigma globally was nearly $300 million.” —Iliya Rybchin,SVP, corporate development & ventures at A+E Television
- “Given that Agile is the dialectic antagonist to Six Sigma we should all be wise to safeguard its core essence and apply it with care and diligence.” —Josh Koenig, head of product at Pantheon
FUTURE OF BANKING
We published a few more pieces in the banking field guide since the beginning of this week. I asked reporter John Detrixhe whether he had any further thoughts on the future of banks from this week’s reporting and the call with members earlier this week. He sent this:
Not all disruption is because of tech. In investment banking, Evercore is poised to break into the top five dealmakers for global mergers and acquisitions this year, a tier traditionally dominated by the likes of Citigroup and JPMorgan. Evercore has climbed the rankings the old-fashioned way—by hiring the most profitable humans.
American banks, meanwhile, dominate global banking, mainly because the US economy is healthier and their home market is less fractured. But investors are worried that low yields that have sapped profits out of Japan and Europe’s banking system are seeping into the world’s biggest economy. Investors want to see the banks experimenting and trying new things before it’s too late.
Case in point is Stuart Sopp, 42, the founder of banking startup Current. He knew the old days of Wall Street were numbered, so he left trading to start a fintech for youngsters. The average age of its users is 27, and about 50% of them are in their teens. The average age of customers using traditional banks is around 53.
A reminder that you can sign up for John’s free weekly future of finance email to follow closely this topic.
Legal cannabis PowerPoint
We just today published a new PowerPoint presentation about the legal cannabis industry, laying out how the industry is structured and where the growth is around the world. Some key facts on the state of the market:
- The world spent an estimated $12 billion on legal cannabis in 2018, and BDS Analytics predicts sales will hit $17 billion this year. Over 80% of that spending happens in the US, despite cannabis being federally illegal (but allowed by 33 states for medical use and 11 states for recreational use.) The US is followed by Canada, the largest country with a federally legalized cannabis market.
- The geography of legal recreational cannabis could expand in the coming years: South Africa, Georgia, and Luxembourg are all in the process of legalization, and New Zealand is holding a referendum on the issue in 2020. Recreational cannabis is already legal in Uruguay, but only for citizens.
Here’s one sample slide from the cannabis presentation:
If you want even more on the topic, there are our legal cannabis and CBD field guides from earlier. You can find our growing library of presentations here, including previous ones about the jobs of the future and Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency.
Quartz member calls for the coming week:
- Mon., Sept. 9: Quartz fashion reporter Marc Bain and managing editor Kira Bindrim discuss the future of fashion, pegged to New York Fashion Week.
- Weds, Sept. 11: Tech editor Mike Murphy and I discuss key takeaways from Apple’s product announcements the day before.
- Fri., Sept. 13: Quartz senior reporter Gwynn Guilford and deputy finance editor Oliver Staley discuss the state of global trade, amid the trade war, Brexit, and other developments.
All calls are at 11am ET / 4pm BST at our usual location. If you’d like to call in, you can reach us at the following numbers:
UK 0800 014 8469
USA 866 226 4650
For all numbers, the access code is 722 994 440.
Our field guide next week is about vaping’s invasion of both our communities and the nicotine-based market dominated by Big Tobacco, written by reporter Jenni Avins.
Satellite data event in San Francisco
If you’re in San Francisco next week, please join us for a Sept. 10 evening event about satellites and the future of data. Quartz senior reporter Tim Fernholz, author of Rocket Billionaires, and Planet director of business development Dina Kazzaz will lead a discussion about how space data from the satellite firm is being used by a variety of businesses, NGOs, governments, among other space-business topics. You can RSVP here, and are welcome to bring friends to the free event.
Wherever you’re based, best wishes for an enjoyable and productive weekend!
Kevin J. Delaney
Editor in chief, Quartz