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  • Data is Important and You Must Confirm What the Data Actually Says

    If you do not have operational definitions for data provided in your organization, as you often will not, you need to figure out if the data is worth trusting (possibly by visiting the gemba) or whether you need to establish operational definitions and make sure new data is collected using the operational definitions.

    Often the variation in the collection of data will hamper your ability to use PDSA. If you practiced PDSA as you should, this wouldn’t be a problem, because you would make sure data had operational definitions.

    Without reliable data, the conclusions that will be drawn from results ads a great deal of potential for error to your effort.

  • Leper King Terrace, Angkor Thom, Siem Reap, Cambodia

    The Leper King Terrace is founds on the North end of the Terrace of the Elephants in the Angkor Thom complex, north of Bayon temple (Siem Reap, Cambodia). There is a narrow pathway that winds between the wall of the terrace.

  • Don’t Hide Important Content Using Coding Gimmicks

    The hidden text here is due to hiden content that only becomes visible once the user clicks something (and instead of going to a page that highlights that content, some content is unhidden and other content is added to the hidden content on the page). It is just a bad Ux practice in general (as with many Ux issues there are odd cases where it can make sense).

  • Podcast with Lynda Finn: The Value of the Simple Run Chart

    Looking closely at a specific result is helpful if the result is “special”; has an identifiable special cause for that result. But in most cases the result is do to common causes of the system and the most effective strategy to improve is to look at all the data and seek to find improvement to the overall system that will change the overall performance of the system.

  • Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE) and Location Independent Working

    Combining FIRE and location independent work provides some valuable benefits. If you have some investments saved up that can be tapped as you travel that can meet some of your living costs, this aids on of the bigger challenges – how to earn money while you travel. And if you travel frugally you can reduce your costs (below what you speed where you used to live).

  • The Importance of a Work Culture That Values and Supports Critical Thinking

    Critical thinking is tremendously important. I have come to think it might be the most important precursor to management improvement (evidence based management, continual improvement...).

  • Default Rates on Loans by Credit Score

    About 38% of people have credit scores from 750-850 (<1% default rate). Another 37% from 600-749 (5+% default rate) and about 25% from 350-599 (25+% default rate).

  • Beehive Fence Protects Farms from Elephants

    This is another cool use of appropriate technology. One of the problems with Elephants in Africa is when they go into farm fields and eat crops and destroy crops. The elephants and bees project is helping farmers deal with that problem.

  • Deming’s Stage 0: By What Method?

    Ron talks about W. Edwards Deming teaching a 2 week course on consumer research in Japan in 1951: that course included a section titled “the art of questioning and interviewing.” Dr. Deming had participants go out into the street of Tokyo and interview potential customers. Those interested in Lean Startup will recognize this activity.

    Ron Moen’s presentation explores what “stage 0” should look like (Deming provided little guidance). Ron decided it was important to start with the customer need. When gathering data, to learn if the idea has merit, the data collection should be made at the actual place of work by the people doing the work (gemba).

  • Making Your Case to Senior Executives

    My advice is to grow your circle of influence and build the capability of the organization to adopt a customer focused continual improvement management system. Once that is done, speaking to the c-suite is easy. Before that is done, speaking to them is still easy, unless you want them to change their short term financial focus.

    As with all people, CEOs are influenced by good stories. So if your goal is to “make a sale” (for whatever you are selling) putting in stories that speak to their way of seeing things is always wise. By looking at the rhetoric they use and actions they have taken you should be able to see what they have a soft spot for in stories and use that to craft the stories you will tell to make your case.

  • If Japan Can... Why Cant We? – 1980 NBC Special Report

    When this was broadcast 35 years ago there was an immediate demand by business to learn and apply Deming’s ideas. It is hard to understand how great an impact it had, from our current position.


    Throughout “If Japan Can, Why Cant We?” executives and front line workers talk about how important it is to involve workers in improvement efforts.

  • How to Frame Photos of People Well

    One thing I find amusing is that selfies actually take advantage of something good photographers knew a long time ago. To get good photos of people put them in the foreground. You still see it today, but it was much more common (like 98% of these type of photos), where the people are tiny dots next to some tourist attraction. Selfies go a bit overboard with putting the person in the foreground (most of the time) but they are often better than the tiny dot people photos.

  • Root Cause - Addressing Systemic Causes Not Symptoms

    It isn't that there is this "true root cause" that created the current problem. There is a way to look at the issue and find a deeper cause that will allow you to address it and improve the future performance of the system.

    Depending on how you look at the problem there can be many different "root causes" that are sensible from their different perspectives. The important thing is by aiming to fix root/systemic problems you will not just treat the current symptom you are dealing with today but eliminate future problems from occurring.

  • Investing in Peer to Peer Loans

    As long as you have a well diversified portfolio of personal loans there is a long track record of the risk. And while plenty of risky personal loans will default, and more will default if the economy has a downturn the interest rates on the loans provides good income even after such losses. And even if things go poorly the actually losses of capital should be small (over the whole portfolio)...

  • 200,000 People Die Every Year in Europe from Adverse Drug Effects – How Can We Improve?

    I think interactions is a hugely important area that needs a great deal more research. Doing so is very complex, which means it isn’t surprising so much more work is needed. The work of my father (and George Box and others) on multi-factorial experimentation is a powerful tool to aid this work (and that connection is likely one of the reasons I find the area of interactions so interesting – along with the realization there is so much benefit possible if we focus in that area more). Previous post on this Curious Cat Science and Engineering blog: Introduction to Fractional Factorial Designed Experiments.

    The human and financial costs of adverse effects are very high. That is why the discovery of new medicines is increasingly focused more on predicting possible adverse effects at the initial stages of developing a new drug.