John Hunter
Photo of John Hunter at Arches National Park
  • Great Science Webcasts - The number of great resources has prompted me to created a directory of great science and engineering webcast libraries: Curious Cat Science and Engineering Webcast Libraries.
  • Lean is Harmony - Lean/quality tools are useful, but they are not the end. Just using the tools can help move an organization to the point where they are ready to truly examine how to improve.
  • Systemic Thinking - Analysis is very useful however, the strong tendency to focus on only breaking apart systems to analyze components does result in missing insight into improvement opportunities (that can be gained by looking at the system as a whole).
  • Engineering the Future Economy - Many other countries are creating environments where leading scientists and engineers can more readily find rewarding (financially and professionally) careers. This is a good thing for the world. Those countries that don't act intelligently risk falling behind and suffering economically.
  • Management Improvement History and Health Care - It is wise to think about what improvement methods were tried in the past and try to understand why they failed in order to improve the chances of management improvement success today.
  • Six Sigma in Sales - Sales is often an area that is treated as though it were separate from the company. That leads to all sorts of problems. Sales needs to be seen as part of the system of the organization and managed in that way.
  • Security of Electronic Voting - They knew the system didn’t work and didn’t fix it. It seems to me the current electronic voting machines are an example of continuing this behavior. It would be better if they would listen to the scientists and fix the system before a scandal.
  • Toyota IT Overview - customizing the code, to its business processes, and not the other way around. Information Technology should support your processes not dictate them.   more
  • Quality Technology and Innovation - Many quality and lean tools are focused on process improvement. But those tools are part of a system that requires customer focused innovation (including breakthrough innovation) - and people often fail to provide the focus on the system of improvement that they should.
  • Cyberpunk Manufacturing - fun article discusses the future of manufacturing, that sounds very lean manufacturingish though the author mentioned six sigma and TQM but not lean. The article is a bit over the top, but does illustrate how cultural trends add to the benefits of a lean future.
  • Diplomacy and Science Research - Those who wish to control what science research is not done are going to find they have a much more difficult job than convincing one government (the USA to pressure everyone else to prohibit research). Those that want to control what research is done have an easier time of it because they just have to convince someone to fund it (a government, corporation, foundation, person, non-profit organization, university...).
  • Distort the System - When people mistake the data proxy for the thing to improve they focus on improvement of how the data looks not of the system. That is the wrong strategy. The correct strategy is to focus on improving the system and as a way of verifying results you then look at measures.
  • Improving the 401(k) System - Employers will now be required to default to having employees save for their retirement in 401(k) plans. The employee still has the option to decline doing so, but now, without such a choice, they will automatically save for retirement. Great news.
  • Drug Resistant Bacteria More Common - Yet another sign of the increasing health threat posed by drug resistant bacteria. The problem of drug resistant bacteria is made much worse by the improper use of anti-biotics.
  • Eliminate Slogans - Along the lines of our post, Stop De-motivating Employees, the founder of Despair wrote a book entitled: The Art of Demotivation. Motivation poster text: "If a pretty poster and a cute saying are all it takes to motivate you, you probably have a very easy job. The kind robots will be doing soon."
  • Competition - I have been moved greatly by my experience and the thoughts of people like Alfie Kohn (No Contest: The Case Against Competition). But I still hold more promise for some aspects of competition and I hold less concern than some about other aspects of competition. Still I agree that there is a good deal to learn about the dangers of competition which often creates havoc within a system.   more
  • Dangers of Extrinsic Motivation - Joel Spolsky: "Instead of training developers on techniques of writing reliable code, you just absolve yourself of responsibility by paying them if they do. Now every developer has to figure it out on their own."   continued
  • Recapturing R&D Leadership - the current state of intellectual property is another area where special interests focused on the short term are doing long term harm to the economy.   more.   Also see: The Future is Engineering
  • Interviews with Innovators - excellent interviews include: David Heinemeier Hansson, Evan Williams (founder of blogger), Craig Newmark (founder of Craigslist), Joel Spolsky (who we have referenced in various posts), Ray Ozzie, Paul Graham and many more.
  • How Google Earth Is Changing Science - The way simple to use tools will be used is hard to predict. By making tools (and ideas - open access research) readily available allows the community to build upon the tool in wonderful and unanticipated ways.
    Tools, that may indeed be technically superior, may languish while simple to use, widely available, tools can flourish and create great benefits.
  • Motivation - Most manager focus on motivating people is wasted time and effort. Instead managers would be much more effective focusing on improving the system, learning, coaching, eliminating de-motivation, etc..   more
  • Web Archive of Tech Talks at Google - webcasts include: The Paradox of Choice - Why More Is Less by Barry Schwartz, The Next Fifty Years of Science by Kevin Kelly and Building Large Systems at Google by Narayanan Shivakumar
  • New Rules for Management? No! - "New" rule: "Look out, not in." What kind of rule is that? It is pretty obvious you need to do both. I find it incredible the amount of time that is taken trying to show "new" ideas that amount to absolutely nothing. See related comments on: Fast Company Interview: Jeff Immelt. more
  • Supplier Development and Multiple Aims - I get the impression from this and many other articles that people are scared to talk about any other aims than profit. Deming didn’t have such a problem. Toyota doesn’t have such a problem. Google doesn’t have such a problem. Others need to learn that there are multiple aims for organizations not just profits but also providing good jobs, serving customers, aiding community... continued
  • How Google Works - Google was driven from the beginning by engineers that sought to do what was best. Since those engineers were the founders of the company and still run the company Google has been able to keep the focus not on what is accepted as conventional wisdom but what actually works best. Google understands when you experiment things might not work our. Google’s solution is to experiment quickly and fail early (turn the pdsa cycle quickly). That is something every organization can apply.   continue
  • North American Manufacturing - Toyota the most lean of all automobile companies is in the news announcing hiring new employees in North America. The others are announcing job cuts. Lean manufacturing is not about job cuts.   continued
  • Quality and Innovation - Yes, today incredible innovation is taking place at companies like Google but this is not new. Toyota has understood the importance of innovation (biotechnology - Hybrid cars 1993 - moving into car manufacturing - robots) for a long time (and so have many many more: IBM, Disney, Nike, NASA, DARPA, Apple, Microsoft, Wal Mart, Sony, Merck, Intel, Charles Schwab, 3M, Amazon, Da Vinci, Miles Davis, Picasso, Edison, Fosbury, Einstein...).   more
  • The Future is Engineering - Both essays make many excellent points on how to create vital economic conditions - read them! They both realize there is no magic bullet. Many factors will determine how successfully an economy can create powerful economic gains. Both focus on the importance of world class engineering education to create something to rival silicon valley.   continue



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