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Key Idea: Achieve Digital Workflow

Steve Hoffman is in motion to achieve continuous improvement, a concept institutionalized by the success of W. Edwards Deming.   All the videos... On leadership...

Key Question:


Steve achieved a digital workflow as early as 1995. This was before most people had email. This was at the front of the dot com boom. Steve was already doing what so many from Silicon Valley were promising.

Digital workflow means all information is inside a computer in some format somewhere. And, all of the computers talk to each other in some way. There is no paper needed to take an order, make and ship the order or collect for the order. Any business can do this but each of us has to weigh the cost/benefit and we have to understand where our customers are in their efforts to go digital.

Many small businesses are not digital because their customers aren't yet and the wise position is to be only slightly ahead of customers.

Steve didn't necessarily know he would be able to cash in on his investment to create a digital workflow.  He just knew what he had could be improved.  So, like most of us, he took a calculated risk. His personal passion is improvement and he could see that computers, for example, could more accurately tell a press how much ink to apply than could the most highly skilled pressman. Steve learned to write computer programs and the systems used today throughout Modern Postcard are all based upon his own code.

Deming's rules to create constancy of purpose towards improvement area:

   1. Adopt the new philosophy.
   2. Cease dependence on inspection.
   3. Move towards a single supplier for any one item.
   4. Improve constantly and offer training on the job.
   5. Institute leadership.
   6. Drive out fear.
   7. Break down barriers between departments.
   8. Eliminate slogans.
   9. Eliminate management by objectives.
  10. Remove barriers to pride of workmanship.
  11. Institute education and self-improvement.
  12. Transformation is everyone's job.

Based on his efforts toward continuous improvement, Steve was ready to implement digital workflow as early as 1995.  He  was at the front of the dot-com boom.Most people didn't even have email. Steve was doing what so many in Silicon Valley were promising.

Think about it

What would it take for you to go digital? Who in your organization would be the best person to be in charge of the effort? How will you discover how digital your customers are or want to be? Which of Deming's rules do you most need to embrace to see more improvement in your organization? Can you re-write each of these points in your own words so that you can fully own the ideas?

Clip from: Modern Postcard

From 16 to 250+ employees

Carlsbad, California: Can an entire industry, the business of performance management, be reduced to a postcard? Can the deep study of kaizen and the work of business gurus like Peter Drucker be reduced to a link?  The quick answer is, "Yes." Visit Modern Postcard and meet Steve Hoffman and his team  producing over 100 million postcards a year for some 150,000 customers.

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Modern Postcard, Inc.

Steve Hoffman, CEO

1675 Faraday
Carlsbad, CA 92008

Visit our web site:

Office: 7604317084

Business Classification:
Printing, publishing

Year Founded: 1996

Achieve Digital Workflow

HATTIE: Hi. I'm HATTIE Bryant. Every week, our goal is to inform and inspire. It's to take you inside the mind of a business owner who created something out of nothing.

It's to introduce you to the country's most fascinating men and women who are the creators of wealth and works. They are the people who are always thinking, `How can I do this better?' They are never satisfied. They're in pursuit of perfection, even though they know it's an unachievable and lifelong goal. Steve Hoffman, founder of Modern Postcard, is an artist turned businessman. He's a deep thinker, a strategist and a tactician. You'll now see what happens when one person gets everybody thinking about how they can do things faster, cheaper and better.

STEVE HOFFMAN (Founder and Owner, Modern Postcard): (Voiceover) Fortunately we started with technology first. When we went to Modern Postcard, the only way that we could do it was to have everything internal be digitized. Everything was digital from the very beginning with Modern Postcard.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Steve Hoffman is founder and owner of Modern Postcard. He has 250 employees who produce over 100 million postcards a year for some 150,000 customers. 1993?

STEVE: Yes, 1993...

HATTIE: You said, `We're going out there. We're not staying with old stuff. We're going forward.'

STEVE: If you're going to get 32 images on a plate, how do you get that? The key things with color is it has to be in a register, and the color has to be good. And the only way you can do that is through digital technology. We solved the problems back in 1993, '94 in terms of doing that. And so internally, we had a completely digital work flow. Now it's a question of, `How do we take people's information and stuff from the outside inside,' because we already knew where the landmines were.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) At their website, Modern Postcard's customers are invited into the digital workflow. Choose build online. Stock artwork is provided, or you can send in your own photos and artwork. No constraints, optimization all the way. Write your copy. Submit the card and pay with your credit card. And, you can email your mailing list so that you never lift another finger until you receive your own copy in the mail.

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