John Hunter
Photo of John Hunter at Arches National Park

New: Management Matters: Building Enterprise Capacity

Selected Blog Posts from April to June 2012

  • Stock Market Capitalization by Country from 1990 to 2010 - The USA was 32.5% of the total in 1990. The USA grew to 46.9% as the tech, finance and housing bubbles were all underway (also Japan was stagnating and the Chinese stock market hadn't started booming to a significant extent). In 2010 the USA was back down to 31.4%. This will likely continue to decrease (at a much slower pace - I wouldn't be surprised to see the USA at 25% in 2020) as the rest of the world's markets continue to grow more quickly.
  • Pay Attention to the Results that Matter - Maintenance is known to be the primary issue (along with some competition from corruption) with failures of clean water projects. For decades the failure of project has been do to poor maintenance (often a situation created by failing to consider maintenance issues so putting in place poorly designed solutions). Failing on the known largest issue is again extremely disappointing.
  • Leading Improvement and Enjoying the Rewards - As a manager your primary responsibility is to improve the system: both the systems within your sphere of control and those outside of it. The more effectively you do so, the less firefighting you have to do.
  • Today, Most Deaths Caused by Lifetime of Action or Inaction - Our instincts lead us to fear the unknown and immediate threats (probably so we can be ready to run - or maybe fight). But today the biggest risks to an untimely dealt are not lions, other people out to get us, or even just random infection. We have to adapt to the new risks by taking action to eat healthfully and exercise, in the same way we we have evolved to avoid becoming a meal for a hungry beast.
  • Customers Are Often Irrational - to make them customers and keep them as customers you need to develop theories that can make sense of their behavior. And it doesn't make sense to think if they behave irrationally that means randomly (chaotically, unpredictably, uncontrollably). Customers can be predictably irrational (as a group).
  • When You Hire People Whose Principle Strength is Fleecing Others, Don't be Surprised When They Fleece You - Most of the people running our companies have no business doing so. They don't have the moral fiber to do so properly. They have systemically denied reasonable pay to employees, denied reasonable customer service to customers, denied to pay taxes owed (fleecing foolish tax authorities)... All in the name of taking more for themselves
  • Long Term Care Insurance - Financially Wise but Current Options are Less Than Ideal - This is one of the more important areas of personal finance. Unfortunately there is no easy answer. If the system were stable, reliable and predictable, long term care insurance would be a definite requirement for a sound financial plan. Today it is wise to insure yourself from those risks, the problem is determining whether any of the options available are worth it.
  • Long Term Thinking with Respect for People - You need to be taking actions today to assure that the company will survive (without layoffs), if things do get much worse. If the executives and board is mainly focused on how to optimize gains in the event things are reasonably good you are not practicing lean management, in my opinion.
  • Richard Feynman Explains the PDSA Cycle - Ok, really Richard Feynman explains the scientific method. But his thoughts make the similarity between the PDSA cycle and the scientific method obvious.
  • Lean Manufacturing and the Toyota Production System - I also see the Toyota Way as a instance of the application of Deming's management ideas (and then Toyota, as expected, made some great innovations with new management tools and ways to think about managing processes and systems).
  • Quick Mistake Proofing Ideas for Preventing Date Entry Error - With a bit of thought, processes can be designed to reduce the liklihoood of errors.
  • Don't Expect to Spend Over 4% of Your Retirement Investment Assets Annually - A 4% withdrawal rate worked until the global credit crisis killed investment returns at which time the sustainability of that rate disappeared. A 5% withdrawal rate lasted nearly 30 years (but you can't count on that at all, it depends on what happens with you investment returns).
  • The Customer is the Purpose of Our Work - Great quote by Gandi on customers "He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it."
  • Citizen Science - I like the contributions people can make to science but I think the biggest value is the scientific understanding people gain while participating. As Neil Degrasse Tyson says the scientifically literate see a different world.
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