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Friday, February 29, 2008

Continuous Improvement at SEMICON Events—A Global Approach

I periodically get asked, “What are you doing to improve SEMICON events?” Sometimes the question is directed at a particular SEMICON exposition and sometimes it is directed to our portfolio of events. The answer is simple (“…everything”) and complicated (“how much time do you have?”).

Our philosophy is that every aspect of show execution and delivery requires continuous improvement. The common Japanese term for continuous improvement is Kaizen, or "change for the better." It requires exploring deeply and systematically the reasons behind our programs and activities. It requires open-minded exploration of new ideas and continuous monitoring of both the process and results.

SEMI is a non-profit association that manages shows on behalf of our members’ interests. Our activities are overseen by a Board of Directors comprised of SEMI members. Because of the importance of expositions to SEMI members, the Board has established a standing committee that provides guidance and oversight on our exposition business. These are leaders of our industry and very smart people. They expect SEMI to manage shows with the same management tools and techniques as they manage their own business.

Fundamental to our process of continuous improvement is metrics. It is imperative we manage our business and our members’ interests in a rational and systematic way, based upon accurate data and thorough analysis. Our approach to metrics is based on both quantitative and qualitative data (see chart). We use surveys to both exhibitors and attendees to measure what people want, if they were satisfied and other parameters. These are quantitative measures that yield measurable and statistically valid insights into the opinion of large groups.

Qualitative data is simply good information that is not easily or appropriately put in numerical terms. It’s the exhibitor complaint, the great idea, the input and direction from a committee. While qualitative in nature, this kind of information is still vital to putting on a great exposition. It is fundamental to developing keynote selections and technical programs and it’s the best source for new ideas.

SEMI takes continuous improvement very seriously and we use a number of techniques to capture and apply good information to improve our shows. When you see a SEMI survey or get a visit or phone call from SEMI staff, please give us your best advice on how to improve our performance. I promise you that your input will be used.

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