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  • Quitting, Habits and the Examined Life

    Treating others fairly is admirable. Being true to your beliefs is admirable. Sacrificing in order to achieve more important long term goals is admirable. Quitting is admirable when it supports those interests. Quitting is not admirable when it is sacrificing your long term happiness to avoid some short term effort.

  • Change and the Management System

    The most important thing though is the entire management culture. Tactics can help change efforts be more successful. But if the culture is hostile to continual improvement (fear based, performance appraisal based, target based, blame based, imposing from on high...) the tactics are working in a difficult situation. Still a good idea, but no matter what tactics are used it will be a challenge.

  • Highest Paying Fields at Mid Career in USA: Engineering, Science and Math

    The top 15 bachelor degrees by mid-career salary were all from engineering, science and math. And the median salary was $168,000 for petroleum engineering degrees (at the top) to $107,000 for Aerospace Engineering and Computer Science and Mathematics (tied for 14th).

    The starting salaries for those with these degrees ranged from $58,000 for Actuarial Mathematics (though by mid-career salary they were in 3rd place at $119,000) to $101,000 for petroleum engineering.

  • People Copy Examples and Wonder Why They Don’t Succeed

    Learning from what others do well can be effective if done properly. To improve your practices you can see what works for others and then abstract the principles for that success and then determine how to adopt those principles to your situation.

  • The Road Not Taken

    Robert Frost was poking fun at his friend who would obsess over what fork to take in the path as they walked when in reality the choice made no difference.

    And “that has made all the difference” is poking fun at self justifications of our actions; congratulating ourselves for doing something not really worthy of accolades.

    Still the top three lines do seem like insightful advice. Of course what is really needed is insight into when choosing the road less traveled is wise (or at least a sensible gamble) and when it is less traveled for very good reasons.

  • The Fed Should Raise the Fed Funds Rate (Sep 2015)

    The issue I see is that a .25% Fed Funds rate is adding gasoline to the economy via low interest rates. Many people are saying an increase is like taking away the gasoline and taking out a fire extinguisher. But it really isn’t. Raising the rate to .25% is slightly decrease the amount of gas you are adding to the fire.

  • Exercise Is Really Really Good for You

    150 minutes a week of moderate (walking briskly, biking, even mowing the lawn maybe) activity (30 minutes a day 5 days a week) is a decent target for a minimum amount of activity for most people.

  • Myth: If You Can’t Measure It, You Can’t Manage It

    Dr. Deming did very much believe in the value of using data to help improve the management of the organization. But he also knew that it wasn’t close to enough. There are many things that cannot be measured and still must be managed. And there are many things that cannot be measured and managers must still make decisions about.

    I wrote a post on my Curious Cat Management Improvement blog about how to manage what you can’t measure (in 2010).

  • Temple of Literature, Hanoi, Vietnam (established in 1070)

    Temple of Literature (Văn Miếu – Quốc Tử Giám, 文廟) is located in old town Hanoi along with many other items of interest within easy walking distance (see Curious Cat Hanoi Tourist map).

    In 1076, Vietnam’s first university, the “Quốc Tử Giám” or Imperial Academy, was established within the temple to educate Vietnam’s bureaucrats, nobles, royalty and other members of the elite. The university remained open from 1076 to 1779. In 1802, the Nguyễn dynasty’s monarchs founded the Huế capital where they established a new imperial academy.

  • Adding 50,000 Jobs a Month is the New 150,000 in the USA Due to Demographic Changes

    Due to changes in the demographic makeup of the USA we are not adding nearly as many working age people as we have been for several decades (the large number of people reaching retirement age is a big part of this shift).

  • Why do you hire dead wood? Or why do you hire live wood and kill it?

    The common objection to seniority pay is, "It’s rewarding dead wood!” My response is, “Why do you hire dead wood? Or why do you hire live wood and kill it?”

    Peter Scholtes, The Leader’s Handbook, page 331

  • The Use and Misuse of Technical Jargon

    Overwhelming people with jargon when trying to introduce new ideas is not usually helpful. Using a couple pieces of jargon can be helpful as it reinforces the idea that this is new stuff and can make people tie the new ideas to new terms.

    Technical jargon is helpful in enabling experts being able to quickly communicate unambiguous (well less ambiguous) specific meaning which is why jargon usually exists - to allow for communication to be more effective.

    Certainly at times jargon is also used by experts to baffle or impress non-experts rather than to help communication. Reducing this use of jargon would be a good thing.

  • When You See the Problem as Capitalism Instead of Corruption You Seek to Solve the Wrong Problem.

    Capitalism has huge benefits and some issues. I am frustrated that we are allowing anti-capitalist ideas to be called capitalist. Those ideas are predominately about allowing huge businesses to subvert markets and corrupt the political process.

    Corruption in our political system which then allows corruption of free markets (as favors to those giving politicians cash) is not "Capitalism." It is corruption.

    Free trade is good. The secret TPP and other corporate-welfare/copywrong-cartel bill is not.


    A fundamental tenant of capitalism is free markets (based on the idea of perfect competition) in which no actor has the power to subvert the market. This was foreseen from the very beginning (in Wealth on Nations by Adam Smith) as an important criteria without which society would not benefit from capitalism as powerful interests would collude to prevent markets from functioning.

  • Analyzing Data Requires an Understanding of the System Generating the Data

    If you bring in a new effort to focus on customers and solicit more feedback if you don’t get an increase in complaints that is likely not an indication of success but an indication of failure. One of the easiest way to reduce the number of complaints counted is to make complaining, in a way that is counted, difficult.

    Using data to measure the effectiveness of new efforts is important. But you need to understand the risks of being led astray. That risk is much greater if those analyzing the data are not intimately familiar with the processes generating the data and the operational definitions used to collect the data.

  • What Will I Do This Week That Will Still Be Adding Value in a Year?

    Failing to prioritize the important-but-not-urgent work is a common weakness in business today. To counter this situation you should build into your work system processes to counter the tendency to allow whatever is urgent from taking all the time you have.