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  • Encouraging the Next Generation of STEM Professionals

    Those with STEM degrees have better career options than others (in terms of nearly everything: higher pay, lower unemployment and higher satisfaction with their careers).

    It is true the education path for STEM is more challenging than for most careers. That is a reality that won’t change. If people are turned off by hard work, they likely wouldn’t like most STEM careers anyway. So that reality I think is fine. But the design of STEM education could be greatly improved to avoiding turning off many people who would enjoy the education and a career if the education process were better.

  • Quality Beginnings: Deming and Madison, Wisconsin

    David Couper: "Deming’s teachings had a strong influence in Madison. Under Mayor Joseph Sensenbrenner (1983-1989), there was a near-total involvement by city employees in applying Deming’s work to city government. These were Madison’s golden years as government, business, and educational institutions worked together to make quality an organizational lifestyle in Madison. Deming helped us to see police work as a system capable of being improved.

    We also learned the value of collaborating with and learning from others outside of law enforcement. We came to see that the systems for which we were responsible, were dependent on others around us (like when we realized the important systems-link between poverty, jobs, education, and crime). Most of all we saw the work we did as a system – and a system that could be improved."

  • Curious Cat as a Celebrity in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

    The others asking to have me in their photos were usually from people I think were tourists from other parts of Indonesia. It was definitely a concentration of such request that I don’t normally see. I do occasionally get such requests, as I travel. Usually I think just people having a bit of fun interacting with other people.

  • USA Health Care Spending 2013: $2.9 trillion $9,255 per person and 17.4% of GDP

    The slow down in how badly the health care system has performed in the USA has resulted in the share of GDP taken by the health care system finally stabilizing. Health care spending has remained near 17.4% since 2009. While hardly great news, this is much better news than we have had in the last 30 years from the USA health care system. The percentage of GDP taken by the USA health care system is double what other rich countries spend with no better health results.

  • Protecting Your Privacy and Security

    I suggested a way to make credit cards more secure and useful. When Apple Pay was announced I learned they are doing basically what I suggested.

    Apple Pay doesn’t share information that can be used to steal your credit card. Apple Pay gives the retailer a 1 time use code for that purchase.

  • Transforming a Management System – A Case Study From the Madison Wisconsin Police Department

    You may ask what the role of Quality Leadership was in the transformational process? To put it bluntly, unless Madison changed their top-down leadership style within the organization they knew they were not going to be able to sustain any of the other changes.

    This may be the major finding of Madison’s experience!

    To get a snapshot of what went on within the Madison department during this time of intense organizational transformation, see the following ten years of organizational effort (1981 to 1993) that occurred and the steps that were taken.

  • Creativity Inc. – Using Deming’s Ideas at Pixar

    Ed Catmull (co-founded Pixar with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter): "As we struggled to get Pixar off the ground, Deming’s work was like a beacon that lit my way.

    it wasn’t until the 1980s when a few companies in Silicon Valley, such as Hewlett Packard and Apple, began to incorporate them. But Deming’s work would make a huge impression on me and help frame my approach to managing Pixar going forward."

  • Lowering Expectations Isn't Practicing Respect for People

    A big problem we have (at least in the USA) is the opinion some people develop that respect has to do with not making anyone uncomfortable. That isn't respect, that is creating a dysfunctional mindset.

    Fear driven culture that give mouth service to "respect" often create a climate in which managers find themselves fearful of being blamed for "disrespecting people" (which often means making someone uncomfortable). If they truly are being dis-respectful their boss needs to be dealing with that and helping them improve

  • Looking at Real Estate in This Challenging Investing Climate

    I continue to believe the choices for investors are much more challenging than they normally are, as I have written about several times. Though maybe soon, this will just be the new normal (in which case investors won’t have the fairly easy choices they have had for much of the last 100 years).

    In previous posts I have discussed the value of real estate investments in this investing climate. Real estate is one way to cope with the challenges of extremely low yields today.

  • Interview with Investing Blogger John Hunter
    • Minimize costs on investments, use Vanguard or similar low fee funds. Buying individual stocks reduces even the costs of Vanguard. There are tradeoffs to diversity of your portfolio when buying individual stocks.
    • Pay attention to the overall risk of the portfolio, and even beyond that, your entire financial picture. For example, in the USA we have extra healthcare expense risk that is outside our portfolio risk, but is part of our entire financial picture. Building your portfolio with extra-portfolio risks in mind is wise.


  • Reverse Budgeting: Money that Must be Spent

    "Some people will put some amount into a checking account each month to limit their spending to say $2,000. I do something similar but for the opposite purpose to segregate money to spend. I move the decision from whether I am better off saving or spending that money to this is the money that has already been allocated for spending, so now go spend it on whatever is the best use for it."

  • A Bad System Will Beat a Good Person Every Time

    So what was Dr. Deming trying to convey with this quote? It wasn’t an attempt to get people to give up trying because failure was certain. It was a attempt to get people to understand the importance of the system and the futility of trying to focus on blaming people for failures.

  • Patient Centered Doesn't Mean Patient Directed

    We need to have systems that are patient focused but that doesn’t mean patients dictate treatment. And we need to see a much wider system than we normally do. We need to be focused on healthy living not just disease treatment. And given the mess that is the USA health care system we need to focus on reducing the burden of coping with the horrible USA health system bureaucracy - that system does great damage to those having to deal with it (and it is nearly all waste that shouldn't be creating such hardship).

  • Knowledge, Personality, and Persuasive Power

    These traits, while providing a guide to understand your means to influence the organization also provide a guide for potential weaknesses in your management system. There is really no advantage to having decisions unduly influenced by those with persuasive power while ignoring ideas from those without much ability to persuade people. What you really want it to follow the best course of action, not the course championed by the most persuasive person.

  • Influential Women in the Field of Quality Management

    Joyce Orsini and Gipsie Ranney have done lots of good stuff. So has Clare Crawford Mason.

    Gertrude Mary Cox isn't known so much for "quality" as statistics but she was an impressive person and a generation or two ahead of others (and it really is related to quality).

    Mary Poppendieck has really good stuff at the intersection of quality and software development.

    Meg Wheatley...