Thursday, December 31, 2009
Dear Friend in Christ:
This has been a difficult year. People around the world have lost their jobs and their homes as a result of the recession; some have lost members of their families to wars, separation, divorce, illness and death.
We are happy that even throughout the hardships there are those who continue to remember the less fortunate, the abandoned, the homeless, the children who have been displaced. Surely the hand of God is with them. Is the Lord calling you to give of yourself, your time, your talent or your treasure and to reach out to someone in a beautiful way?
For the coming year, lets us develop a HABIT of thankfulness to others; this habit will form our character and in a short time we will be THANKING OTHERS AND GOD every minute of our lives!!!.. Try it… you will like it!!! Doing this will move us out of depression and bring us into the light of HOPE and personal JOY………
May your New Year be filled with God's richness.
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Tuesday, December 29, 2009
OUR ‘CHRISTMAS MIRACLE’... for this and more, let us be thankful.
Column by Jean Lowrie-Chin | Jamaica Observer | 28 December 2009
AS I watched the CNN report headlined "Christmas Miracle" last week, I wondered if we in Jamaica realise how blessed we are. In the last 10 days, we have seen new taxes, national outcry, drought broken, a plane crash with no loss of life, tax rollback. These are just the high notes against the constant hum of investments, crime, traffic mishaps, entertainment and sports.
Meanwhile, we are reading about scores of Europeans freezing to death in extreme weather, 50,000 Filipinos being evacuated from their homes as a volcano threatens to erupt and daily bombings in Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan. Somewhere between the ice and the fire is Jamaica, lauded by patriots and undermined by parasites of all stripes.
We are giving thanks for the miracle at Norman Manley Airport last Tuesday night involving an American Airlines flight. From all accounts, it could have been a huge tragedy. Additionally, at this delicate stage of the negotiations for the sale of Air Jamaica, we can imagine the repercussions if this incident had involved our national airline.
(click on title for full column)
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Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Panicked passengers screamed and baggage burst from overhead bins as Flight 331 from Miami careened down the runway in the capital, Kingston, on Tuesday night, one passenger said.The impact cracked open the fuselage, crushed the left landing gear and separated both engines from the Boeing 737-800, airline spokesman Tim Smith said. Crews evacuated dazed and bloodied passengers onto a beach from a cabin that smelled of smoke and jet fuel, passengers said. Rain poured through the plane's broken roof, one said.
Some 44 people were taken to hospitals with broken bones and back pains and four were seriously hurt, airport and Jamaican government officials said. American Airlines said two people were admitted to the hospital and nobody suffered life-threatening injuries.The plane skidded across a causeway road before coming to a halt on a grassy embankment. Two gaping cracks marked the fuselage, and the jet's mangled nose section tilted downward just short of the ocean.
Heavy turbulence on the way to Jamaica had forced the crew to halt the beverage service three times before giving up, Pilar Abaurrea of Keene, New Hampshire, told The Associated Press by phone. The pilot warned of more turbulence just before landing but said it likely wouldn't be much worse, she said."All of a sudden, when it hit the ground, the plane was kind of bouncing. Someone said the plane was skidding and there was panic," she said.U.S. investigators will analyze whether the plane should have been landing in such bad weather, Smith said, adding that other planes had landed safely in the heavy rain.Passenger Natalie Morales Hendricks told NBC's "Today" that the plane began to skid upon landing and "before I knew it, everything was black and we were crashing."
"Everybody's overhead baggage started to fall. Literally, it was like being in a car accident. People were screaming, I was screaming," she said."There was smoke and debris everywhere," after the plane halted, she said. "It was a mess. Everybody could smell jet fuel."
Passenger Robert Mais told The Gleaner newspaper of Jamaica that he had heard the engine's reverse throttle but that the plane didn't seem to slow as it skittered down the runway.The plane stopped about 10 to 15 feet (3 to 5 meters) from the Caribbean and passengers walked along the beach to be picked up by a bus, Mais said. Rain came through the roof of the darkened jet and baggage from the overhead compartments was strewn about the cabin, he said.
The plane originated at Reagan National Airport in Washington and took off from Miami International Airport at 8:52 p.m. and arrived in Kingston at 10:22 p.m. It was carrying 148 passengers and a crew of six, American said. The majority of those aboard were Jamaicans coming home for Christmas, Jamaican Information Minister Daryl Vaz said.Smith said there were two "significant" cracks in the fuselage, and the engines are designed to separate from the wings during an accident as a safety measure.
A team of six investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board was traveling to Jamaica from Washington on Wednesday morning to assist a probe led by the island's government, agency spokesman Keith Holloway said. The airport reopened early Wednesday after officials had delayed flights because of concerns that the plane's tail might be hindering visibility.
Four hundred passengers waited for their flights to be cleared for takeoff, Security Minister Dwight Nelson told Radio Jamaica.
Heavy rains that have pelted Jamaica's eastern region for four days are expected to dissipate by Thursday. Authorities said the rains washed away a 7-year-old girl on Tuesday and led to a bus crash in which two people died.
Associated Press writers Danica Coto, Ben Fox and Mike Melia in San Juan, Puerto Rico; Howard Campbell in Kingston, Jamaica; Carol Druga in Atlanta, Georgia; and Sofia Mannos in Washington contributed to this report.
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Monday, December 21, 2009
Lord, thou knowest better than I know myself that I am growing older and will someday be old.
Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion.
Release me from craving to straighten out everybody's affairs.
Make me thoughtful but not moody, helpful but not bossy.
With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all, but thou knowest, Lord, that I want a few friends in the end.
Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point.
Seal my lips on my aches and pains.
They are increasing, and love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by.
I dare not ask for grace enough to enjoy the tales of others' pains, but help me to endure them with patience.
I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and a lessening cocksureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others.
Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken.
Keep me reasonably sweet;
I do not want to be a saint – some of them are so hard to live with – but a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil.
Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places and talents in unexpected people.
And give me, O Lord, the grace to tell them so.
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Beverley East with her ‘biggest achievement’, son Diag Deje Davenport.
from Jean Lowrie-Chin's Observer column | 21 Dec 09
(click on title for full column)
“It was slow going at the beginning,” recalls Bev, “Until a friend suggested that I should write a book about graphology.” Thus, Beverley set herself to the task of producing “Finding Mr Write”, a four-year exercise which paid off handsomely. Random House accepted her manuscript, complete with a six-figure initial payout. “That put me on the map and changed my life,” said Bev.
After marrying an American, Bev moved to Washington DC where her only child, her cherished son Diag Deje Davenport, was born. She credits her former husband, a lawyer, for encouraging her to go into forensic document examination. Just before her book came out, Washington Post award-winning journalist, Patrice Gaines wrote a story on Bev’s work, and by coincidence (or ‘God-incidence’), a front page story got dropped and the story on Beverley East got top billing. “I got calls from so many people,” says Bev. “Even the White House called to ask me to analyse Monica Lewinsky’s handwriting!”
Beverley was contacted also by investigators to analyse the ransom note that had been found at the home of little beauty queen Jon Benet Ramsay on the night of her murder. Beverley did 26 speaking engagements on the subject. Her theory? “I believe the ransom note was dictated to the writer,” she says. “It did not appear genuine. It was too long and too detailed. There was no rhythm and lots of pauses.”
Strokes & Slants this year celebrated 20 eventful years in business. Beverley operates out of London, Washington DC and the Caribbean where she does a great deal of forensic work. In Jamaica, it is mostly Will & Testament and Land Transfer fraud. She is a one-woman business, sub-contracting when needed. “After 9/11 I had nine people working with me because death certificates from other states were being altered to say New York; people were trying to cash in on the special insurance that was being offered,” disclosed Bev. She was also a media consultant on the anthrax letters.
In interviews on ABC and MSNBC, seen on her website http://www.writeanalysis.com Beverley proves that she has mastered the science of graphology. Visit the site to learn how to analyse the handwriting in those romantic Christmas cards as you search for your ‘Mr/Ms Right’. Beverley East’s sparkling career grew from the courage of following up on her big idea. What is yours?
Thursday, December 17, 2009
|Distinguished Ambassador Anthony Hill (centre) after his Induction into the St George's College Hall of Fame with colleagues Noel Hall and Keith Lyn|
|Professor Emeritus and Nobel Laureate Anthony Chen receiving his Jamaica 50 Living Legacy Award from Prof Denise Eldemire Shearer, Chairman of the Caribbean Community of Retired Persons|
The authors: Anthony Hill is a retired Jamaican Ambassador.
A Anthony Chen is Nobel Laureate and Professor Emeritus, UWI.
Jamaica Observer | Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Science and its technology tools have made lifestyles generally the most comfortable since the dawn of contemporary history. Applied to energy transformation these technologies have been central to raising hundreds of millions out of poverty and improved living standards across the board.
Over the past 20 years science now demonstrates with a very high degree of confidence that modern man's lifestyles are now a decisive factor altering the naturally equilibrating forces in the earth's system. The greenhouse gases, emitted by an excess of carbon dioxide (CO2) mainly, now saturate the atmosphere and are bringing the system to a major tipping point.
Make no bones about it: the greenhouse gases emitted by releasing energy from the fossil fuels of oil and gas, the pressure on the declining soil and water resources, the demand for food, minerals and fossil fuels, the pollution of the atmosphere are well beyond the equilibrium-carrying capacity of the earth. In Jamaica we face a myriad of threats ranging from sea level rise and droughts (which we are now experiencing) to increased incidence of diseases (See, for example, http://www.america.gov/publications/ejournalusa.html#0909). These threats will increase in proportion to the increase in global warming which in turn depends on the increase in quantity of greenhouse gases emitted by man-made activity. The greatest harm will come to the poor and underprivileged who are less able to adapt to these threats. Globally, the greatest threat is the irreversible melting of the polar ice caps and Greenland due to what is termed "a positive feedback" where the melting feeds on itself.
It is to reduce these threats that the world began meeting in Copenhagen last week. The main areas for discussion include:
* Targets to curb greenhouse gas emissions, in particular by developed countries
* Financial support for mitigation of, and adaptation to, climate change in developing countries
* A carbon-trading scheme aimed at ending the destruction of the world's forests (a sink for CO2) by 2030.
At the time of writing, the governments of the major greenhouse gas emitters meeting in Copenhagen are still not ready to take bold action, despite the high confidence of the scientific findings. It is clear that there will be no agreement of a legally binding nature, but a political best endeavour declaration. The Kyoto Protocol and its commitments will suffice, up to 2012.
The mature course of action for those countries faced with the heavy burden of adaptation to the hazards, with and without agreement in Copenhagen, is the sensible disposition of policy to our island circumstances. It will be necessary to devise an all-encompassing set of programmes, which lay the bases for individual, community and national activities. We consider this using the terminology widely adopted, namely the "low-carbon economy".
The transition to a low-carbon economy will not be easy. In the short and medium term the volume of greenhouse gases must increase in Jamaica, and perhaps rapidly so if the economy is to move to a new self-sustaining phase to meet its growing demand for goods and services.
This reliance on and increased use of fossil fuel energy sources make sense only in the context of built-in measures to use them efficiently and simultaneously increasing the share of renewable energy sources and technologies across all sectors of the society.
This requires phasing out as rapidly as possible several of the more technologically inefficient heavy fuel oil power generating plants with high heat rates and considerable polluting emissions of CO2. The replacement by technically and economically feasible renewable energy sources, such as wind and hydro power, will set Jamaica on track to significantly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
The new breed of wind turbines reaching to higher heights and with increased energy output is a proven technology. This must now be applied to the Wigton Wind Farm if it is to overcome its early disappointment, as well as to other suitable wind sites. Further, legislation must be put in place for more equitable power purchase agreement.
The base year for the measurement of greenhouse gas emissions must be set, say 2010, overall and by sector. The basis for this exercise is to be found in Jamaica's "Final Report - Jamaica's Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory, which "presents Jamaica's greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory of anthropogenic emissions and removals of greenhouse gases (GHGs) not controlled by the Montreal Protocol.
This inventory should be refined and constitute an integral part of the National Development Plan Vision 2030. Targets set leading up to 2030 and 2050 will be an important measure for the efficient use of energy in producing goods and services and the rollout of renewable energy technologies.
The sectors in which the low-carbon strategy will make the most impact includes power generation across the national grid and its consumption by major industrial users, water utilities, communications and transportation firms, including airlines and ships within territorial space, distribution outlets, buildings, including hotels, hospitals and prisons and individual lifestyles.
The financial services sector, and importantly insurance must be a major and integral participant, underwriting, asset management and claims management of both private assets, and increasingly "public goods".
Major government-initiated or supported "investments", or both, through incentive measures and tax breaks, without integrating the low-carbon dynamic, is self-defeating and ultimately cannot be considered "visionary". Climate change with its immense uncertainties and risks "threaten human health, disrupt economic activity, damage natural ecosystems irreversibly, and even (in worst-case scenarios) lead to mass migration, food shortage, and other global humanitarian crises".
The governance structures as presently functioning, while admirably underpinning democratic pluralism, have shown themselves less than optimum to the task of delivering balanced growth, development and social harmony.
The challenges and risks posed by climate change offer the country a real opportunity to decentralise and devolve power from central government, redistribute bureaucratic expertise to local governments and communities and importantly to deconcentrate private capital.
The call for a "Jamaica, the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business" is possible only when there is a restored sense of solidarity and self-governing institutions at the local and community levels where climate change strikes first and hardest.
The ongoing turmoil of economic uncertainty notwithstanding, the Jamaican society stands to lose much, much more should it fail to be guided by the basic principle of survival, namely precaution.
Consider a Jamaica in 2050, without the results of fundamental changes to present governance institutions, principles, policies, programmes and lifestyles: less arable land with eroded coastal zones and denuded hillsides, less clean air with more pollution, less potable water with more floods and waste, a less healthy population, less to share but more, many more people angling to get their share.
Jimmy Cliff 's The Harder they come, the Harder they Fall will be ringing in our ears.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
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Sunday, December 13, 2009
Published: December 13, 2009
By Athaliah Reynolds, Staff Reporter
China is now the main market for Jamaican informal commercial importers. Some make the the cross-continental journey many times per year to buy goods ranging from furniture to clothing and appliances.
Judith, an ICI who sells children's shoes in the Oxford Mall in downtown Kingston, told The Sunday Gleaner that she made several trips a year to purchase goods instead of travelling to the usual places, such as Miami and Curaçao.
"Sometimes we travel in groups. So, like nine, 10 of us will pool together and share one container," she said.Judith said China's appeal lies in the fact that it works out much cheaper for the vendors and eventually, the consumer, because they are cutting out the middleman and going straight to the source.
"You can get children's shoes for all US$2.50, and adult shoes for about US$3 or $4, while in Fort Lauderdale they selling for like US$10," Judith said.availability of goods.
Another vendor, Conseta, who sometimes makes the two-day, 9,000-mile trek across the globe with Judith, said when one took into consideration the low prices and availability of goods, the long journey and high plane fare were a minor price to pay. A ticket to China can cost anywhere from about $200,000 to $300,000."
You don't have to go to Panama, Curaçao, Miami or Los Angeles anymore when you can just go straight to China," she said. "Plus, I always say, those same people that you buy from in those other countries are shopping in China, too.
"The vendors also said that the competition was often quite intense when they travelled to the United States as there was only a limited number of some of the fashionable items they might be interested in buying."
Sometimes it's like a race, because you have to be hurrying and running about to make sure you get to a certain shop before somebody else gets there when you in Miami. But in China, there is enough for everybody, and if it finishes, they can make more, because we go right to the factory," said Conseta.
The women said the trip was often tiring and time consuming as they often had to make a number of stops through several countries to get to their destination.Judith's preferred route is taking a one and a half hour trip from Kingston to Curaçao, where she stays in transit for three hours. She then boards a nine-hour flight to Amsterdam, where she spends an additional 13 hours.
"I will stay at a hotel, get something to eat, shower, get some sleep and then take a 12-hour flight from there to Hong Kong," she said.
One of the women's favourite towns to shop at when in China is Quanzhou.peace of mindJudith said she usually made about three to four trips a year, as she shopped based on the season and the level of need.
"We usually shop for Easter, back-to-school, Independence and Christmas," she said."Shopping in China is a big thing for most ICIs these days. Even recently, about 150 of us meet up there," she said. "It is not just the shopping for me. When I am there, my mind is at peace. It's quiet and nice and there is hardly any crime, and people are appreciative of the money you spend with them," Judith added.
And language isn't necessarily a hindrance, as, according to the women, close to 75 per cent of Chinese residents speak English. There is also a large number of interpreters always willing to translate on behalf of the buyers and sellers.
The vendors, however, admitted that there was just one draw back to travelling so far to buy goods.
"It take about 21-30 days for the goods to get here. You have to wait very long and you have to remember that fashion don't stay in style for long. Styles change very quickly and people don't want anything that is out of date, so that is sometimes a challenge," Conseta said.
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Thursday, December 3, 2009
Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn poses with Observer senior photo editor Michael Gordon (left), the Gleaner’s Winston Sill (second right) and videographer Ken Dawson after the Wray and Nephew-sponsored PAJ veterans’ luncheon at the Girl Guides Headquarters in Kingston, yesterday. TVJ videographer Rudolph Matherson, who was also recognised, was unable to attend. Llewellyn was guest speaker at the function. (Photo: Lionel Rookwood)
Observer senior photo editor among four honoured by PAJ
JAMAICA OBSERVER | Thursday, December 03, 2009
MICHAEL Gordon, senior Observer photo editor, was one of four veterans honoured yesterday by the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) at its annual veterans’ luncheon, held at the Girl Guides Headquarters in Kingston.
Gordon, along with Gleaner photographer Winston Sill, TVJ videographer Rudolph Matherson and videographer Ken Dawson were recognised by the PAJ, at the Wray & Nephewsponsored luncheon, for their years of excellent service to the media.
Gordon was introduced to the business of photography by his uncle at the tender age of 15. At the time he worked with his uncle in a photo studio at Church Street in downtown Kingston as an apprentice. His first lessons involved developing and printing photographs.
Gordon has, over the years, received awards for human interest, sports and news photography, one of which was that which captured former Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller drawing caricatures in the House of Parliament during a speech by then Opposition MP Audley Shaw.
The photograph, which was dubbed ‘Doodling’, was taken on October 19, 2006 and won the Aston Rhoden award for news photography.
He won his first photography award in 1985 for the human interest photograph which captured the wife of former Prime Minister Edward Seaga embracing the wife of former Prime Minister Michael Manley.
In 1993, Gordon won the first-ever photography award in any for the Observer, which was founded that same year.
His photographs ‘Flying Floyd’, which caught a cricket bat flying from the hand of West Indian cricketer Floyd Reifer at Sabina Park in 1993 and ‘MoBay Massacre’ also won awards.
Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn, who was guest speaker at the luncheon, urged the media to join the band of the law-abiding and play their part in beating back the wave of crime affecting the country.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
By Keith Collister
Jamaica Observer | Friday, November 13, 2009
It is not possible to overstate the importance of the Jamaica Productivity Centre's three-day seminar that ended yesterday. Even the phrase 'productivity disaster' used in the headline does not do justice to the key conclusions of the Jamaica Productivity Centre's Productivity Summary Report, as it is also an economic, social and human disaster for Jamaica.
Over the 35-year period covered by the report, between 1972 and 2007, the productivity of the average Jamaican worker has declined at a rate of 1.3 per cent each year. Even worse, the fact that the rate of decline had doubled to 3.4 per cent per annum in recent years shows that not only are we going in the wrong direction, we are actually speeding up in the wrong direction.
As a clearly related consequence, the Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per person in Jamaica in 2007 was only 90 per cent of the level attained in 1972.
Many would respond that the report only confirms what those who were prepared to look at Jamaica's economic performance objectively had long known - namely that we have a severely unproductive economy.
The timing of the JPC's seminar, themed "Transformation for sustainable competitive advantage", in the midst of our most severe economic crisis since the 1970s, is impeccable.
It was therefore appropriate that the keynote speaker, Newfield Networks' Daniel Newby, appeared up to the task of outlining transformative leadership. Defining a leader as someone who "declares a future that others commit to", Mr. Newby outlined the difference between the old pyramid organisational structure, with a godlike Pharaoh at the top, and the new network model that has emerged, where one interacts with people over which one doesn't have direct control. Consequently, instead of issuing commands, this requires that individuals use language, emotion and presence to attract people to your vision.
Most organisations are, of course, a hybrid of people you control organisationally, and those that you don't control. A classic example of responsibility without authority is the typical project manager, who has enormous responsibility and absolutely no authority. A project manager needs to be in a position to make people want to help complete the project ("an influencer") to get things done.
According to Newby, such a situation requires that we understand the power of language - requests, offers, promises - as nothing happens in an organisation without these. Without traditional authority, one needs to be masterful at building alliances, and generating emotion to get people committed.
If one thinks of the requester as a customer, and the performer of the request as the "doer", one quickly sees "somebody should do this" is not a true request. A clear request requires conditions, time and a result.
According to Newby, in the impossible ideal the best leaders would do nothing, as their job is to make other people do the work, not do it themselves. They are "customers for other people's promises/performance".
Addressing the issue of trust as an example of the enormous importance of language, Newby argued that better communication requires that trust be viewed not as a moral issue, but as a willingness to coordinate action with others. This allows a different, more specific conversation about sincerity, competence and reliability to deliver on a promise.
If one applies Newby's insight to the prime minister's recent negotiations on the Memorandum of Understanding with the unions, the prime minister could have been sincere in his desire to reach an agreement, and have the skills to negotiate such an agreement, but simply ran out of time.
Why workers won't work
There is no better local example of the problem of trust, and its impact on productivity than the research embodied in the book Why workers won't work. The author, Kenneth Carter, uses the analogy of "the early bird catches worms that are early". His key finding is that Jamaican workers perceive management to be early birds and workers to be worms, and therefore it is rational behaviour for workers not to be early.
In more concrete terms, Carter argues that the vast majority of Jamaica's labour force is highly dissatisfied, short of both monetary and psychic pay, and sees no reward or advantage in being more productive. Whilst the book was based on research between 1974 - 1988, in a side conversation Carter argues that if anything the problem may have got worse over the past 20 years.
A critical part of improving productivity is process improvement, which is driven mainly by people and technology. In the view of Alan Krul, a leader in Deloitte Consulting's Global Practice on Lean Operations, the key issue is "how do you incorporate internal and external customers into your business process".
The birth of what is now called "lean operations" began more than 25 years ago with the rediscovery by American business of the work of an American engineer, W Edwards Deming, who had gained fame in post-war Japan for his statistically driven work on quality improvement.
Now called the father of the total quality movement, Deming published a book called Out of the Crisis in 1982 at a moment when American business had lost confidence in their ability to respond to Japanese competition. Deming argues simply "If you can't describe what you are doing as a process, you don't know what you are doing."
This total quality movement evolved into the six sigma movement in the early 1980s at Motorola, still emphasising, as did Deming, the need to improve the quality of process outputs by identifying and removing the causes of defects (errors) and variability in manufacturing and business processes.
Lean manufacturing, of which the best example is Toyota's lean production system as outlined in James Womack's 1990 book The Machine that Changed the World is based on teamwork, communication, and efficient use of resources.
According to Krul, in the late 1990s the different approaches began merging into what came to be called lean six sigma, combining the reduction of variance and the reduction of waste and complexity. The focus is now on reducing waste and complexity, hence the term lean operations.
This approach emphasises process excellence, focusing on strategic projects that integrate what Krul calls "the voice of the customer".
In the old way of doing things, businesses would try to improve the different jobs they were doing, not thinking about the end-to-end process. The new way of doing things emphasises process mapping, so that one measure of the dynamism of company, in terms of productivity improvement, would be how many people are working on process improvement projects. Of course, process mapping is not managing change, which is a key part of structuring a project. Deloitte provides change management tools that provide a process improvement framework for projects that define, measure, analyse, improve, and control "high impact customer processes".