John Hunter     Management Improvement... Blog and Resources

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Management Matters

by John Hunter


Selected posts from my blogs:

  • Six Tips for Your Software Testing Career - Develop your communication skills Communication is critical to a career in software testing as it is to most professional careers. Your success will be determined by how well you communicate with others.
  • Design of Experiments: The Process of Discovery is Iterative - George Box (video in link): "Always remember the process of discovery is iterative. The results of each stage of investigation generating new questions to answered during the next."
  • How to Balance the Benefits of Foreign Workers and the Potential Damage to Citizen's Job Prospects - - I think overall the USA benefits tremendously from all the workers attracted from elsewhere.
  • Your Online Presence and Social Networks for Managers - first start with blogs (get a feed reader and subscribe, read and comment on blogs). Next join Reddit and subscribe to the sub-reddits you are interested in, and participate. Next start your own blog. Then join Twitter...
  • Stated Versus Revealed Preference - The point to remember is what your potential customers say they will do is different than what they do. It is sensible to listen to stated preferences of customers just understand them for what they are.
  • The Risks of Too Big to Fail Financial Institutions Have Only Gotten Worse - I think the risks are real and potential damage is serious. Where to hide from the storm is a much tricker question to answer. When in that situation diversification is often wise. So diversification with a focus on investments that can survive very bad economic times for years is what I believe is wise.
  • What is the Explanation Going to be if This Attempt Fails? - Spend a bit of time asking yourself what would your reaction be if this attempt failed. Occasionally you will be able to jump right to a better solution than if you just experiment based on your initial thoughts.
  • Getting Known Good Ideas Adopted - We seem to spend all sorts of time and energy focused on new branding for management ideas when we would be better off focusing on how to get organizations to adopt good practices.
  • Investment Options Are Much Less Comforting Than Normal These Days - Even at times like the oil crisis (1973-74, stagflation, 1986 stock market crash) I can see being confident just investing in good businesses and good real estate would work out in the long term. I am much less certain now.
  • Experience Teaches Nothing Without Theory - When we are learning (as little kids) we don't understand that our brain is creating theories to help us learn. But our brain is creating theories and testing them out.
  • Introduction to Fractional Factorial Designed Experiments - I grew up understanding that the best way to experiment is by varying multiple factors at the same time. You learn much quicker than One Factor At a Time (OFAT), and you learn about interactions (which are mainly lost in OFAT). I am amazed to still hear scientists and engineers talk about OFAT as a sensible method or even as the required method, but I know many do think that way.
  • Leadership and Management - A manager that is not concerned about doing the right things is a lousy manager. And a leader that doesn't care about doing things right is a lousy leader.
  • Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Career Flexibility - I think we could use some innovation in our model of a career. I have thought retirement being largely binary was a poor system since I figured out that is what we do. You work 40 hours a week (1,800 - 2,000 hours a year) and then dropped to 0 hours, all year long, from them on.
  • The Failure of Hero Worship Thinking at JC Penney - I have written previously that the CEO is only one person. Ron Johnson showed 4 people (that paid themselves $170 million) are not enough either. The whole attitude such people have about the appropriateness of hero worship and disrespect for the vast majority or workers sets up likely failure.
  • Security Theatre Thinking is Damaging the USA - The security theatre and SWAT team thinking pervades our policing today. We desperately need to learn from those like former Madison, Wisconsin chief of Police, David Couper a much better way of thinking for policing society.
  • Executive Leadership - Largely getting the c-level to understand their role in improving the management system boils down to getting people to think critically and for people to demand evidence based decision making (which requires an understanding of variation). Once that happens there is a natural path to adopting Deming's ideas and lean management and continual improvement practices.
  • Effective Communication is Explicit - The number of quality tools that put making-communication-explicit into practice provides evidence that this is an important concept to consider when examining how to improve the performance of your organization.
  • Examining the Scientific Basis Around Exercise and Diet Claims - scientific literacy is critical to allow us to make those judgements about what is credible evidence and what are outright lies, foolish claims or highly suspicious claims tainted by conflicts of interest.
  • 14 Plus Potentially 14 More Years for Copyrights Has Become 120 Years - Sadly, we continue to damage society to provide government granted monopolies to large campaign contributors. And we allow our legal system to be subverted by companies threatening to subject others to abusive litigation. We should fix the system to work for society instead of against the interest of our society.
  • Beach, Khao Lak, Thailand
  • Distorting the System, Distorting the Data or Improving the System - It is good to get in the habit of considering if the measured improvements are truly an indication of an improved system or merely the result of distorting the system or the data.
  • 94% Belongs to the System - Dr. Deming was trying to direct the focus of improvement efforts to look not at the fault with one person but to look at the system. I believe strongly he was correct. If you blame a person as the root cause of a problem, my first, second and third reactions are why? why? why? It is possible the person is to blame and there is no benefit to exploring system improvement instead of settling for blaming the person. But that is rare.
  • Apple's Outstanding Shares Increased a Great Deal the Last Few Years - Given Apple's financial position I do not believe diluting stockholders equity by issuing huge amounts of stock was a wise policy the last 7 years. I think reversing that policy is wise. Buying back the stock they gave away is sensible but it would have been wiser not to give so much away in the first place.
  • The Art of Discovery - George Box "I think the quality revolution is nothing more, or less, than the dramatic expansion of the of scientific problem solving using informed observation and directed experimentation to find out more about the process, the product and the customer."
  • Good Journalism Aids Society by Shining the Light on Corruption - Journalists do a great deal of good, even if much of what their employers publish is useless (or worse)... If we don't support real journalism we risk great damage to our society.
  • Ceramic Tile Art on Chinese Temple Roof
  • George Box 1919 to 2013 - I would most likely not exist if it were not for George Box. My father took a course from George while my father was a student at Princeton. George agreed to start the Statistics Department at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, and my father followed him to Madison, to be the first PhD studentand met my Mom.
  • Quality Processes in Unexpected Places - The most surprising example of customer focus that I know of is the Madison, Wisconsin police department surveying those they arrested to get customer feedback.
  • The USA Spent a Record $2.7 Trillion, $8,680 per person, 17.9% of GDP on Health Care in 2011 - The United States Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) project that health care spending will rise to 19.6% of GDP by 2021.
  • Change is Necessary, But it has to be the Right Change - While change may well be necessary. Change is not sufficient. You need to know what to do then change. Similar to Dr. Deming's thoughts on best efforts :-)
  • What Does Respect for People Actually Mean? - In order for human systems to be most effective they must engage people and their thinking.
  • CDC Again Stresses Urgent Need to Adjust Health Care Practices or Pay a Steep Price - By following the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, we can slow the penetration of CRE infections in hospitals and other medical facilities and potentially spread to otherwise healthy people outside of medical facilities.
  • Human-Computer Cooperation - People often try to design software solutions that remove the need for humans to be involved. For complex problems, though, it is often much more effective to design solutions where people take advantage of computer tools to achieve results...

John Hunter has experience in management improvement (customer focused continuous improvement, process improvement, systems thinking) and related areas. Since 1995, I have used the internet and internet technology to improve the results of management improvement efforts.

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