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  • The Edge-case Excuse

    I have found “edge cases” to actually mean we don’t want to fix it. Often the issue isn’t needing some special code to deal with an “edge case” it is the coding was done poorly and breaks in many different “edge cases.” It isn’t that those edge cases need to be coded for. It is that the code should have been written in a robust way that didn’t break for lots of “edge cases” but the excuse given for not fixing the fundamental coding fragility is the bugs found are just “edge cases.”

  • Giving Executives 40% of Revenue is Insane

    I have previous written on my belief that excessive executive compensation had reached the level of a deadly disease of western management (building on the W. Edwards Deming’s list of 7 deadly diseases). I named excessive executive pay and a broken “intellectual property” system as new deadly diseases in 2007.

    Twitter has given executives $2,000,000,000 in just stock based compensation from 2011 through 2015. Twitter’s revenue for those 4 years was only $4,709,000,000. So Twitter gave executives 42.5% of revenue. This is of revenue, not earnings, Twitter isn’t even profitable.

  • 10 Questions to Ask When Designing Software Tests

    Too often software testing fails to emphasis the importance of experienced software testers using their brains, insight, experience and knowledge to make judgements about what is the best course of action. Hexawise is a wonderful tool to help software testers but the tool needs a smart and thoughtful person to wield it and produce the results we all want to see.

  • W. Edwards Deming and the Leander Way

    Often people will say Deming isn’t just the tools. That is certainly true. But using tools and data to make improvement efforts concrete is important. 

    As Deming said, best efforts are not enough, you have to know what to do. But he also said, “Best efforts are essential.” Tools are not enough: and like best efforts, using them without understanding the management system can do damage. But tools are also essential and Leander’s experience shows a long term effort to integrate quality improvement tools into the management system to achieve long term continual improvement.

  • Seek to Improve How You Learn, Don’t Just Accept That You Can’t Do Better

    Learning about how people learn and remember is important to allow you to communite well. And most people seem to understand this. But they also seem to have no shame in not improving their performance in relation to these common weaknesses...

    What I see is people spouting these statistics, not as a way of learning what they need to improve themselves but as a way of explaining that it is inevitable and they won’t do any better (or even bother to attempt to do so). It just isn’t true that you can’t do better. You can train yourself to learn more than most people when the material is presented in a less than perfect manner by learning how we commonly fail to learn and making efforts to do better yourself.

  • Institute Leadership



    The aim of leadership should be to improve the performance of man and machine, to improve quality, to increase output, and simultaneously to bring pride of workmanship to people. Put in a negative way, the aim of leadership is not merely to find and record failures of men, but to remove the causes of failure: to help people to do a better job with less effort.

    W. Edwards Deming

  • Library of Congress, Washington DC

    The Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress in Washington DC is one of the most ornate buildings in the city. It was opened in 1897.  It is a suprisingly interesting travel desination.

  • A TV That Doesn’t Spy on You?

    Most (all?) “smart”/spy TVs spy on you many different ways. Some even record what you say and save that information and send it over the internet. So often these days companies say we don’t do x or y only to later say that oh well we do… And even if they say you can opt out of being spied on if the device has the capability of spying on you relying on them to actually honor request not to be spied upon seems unwise.

    It seems much safer to just have monitors that display the content you requested be displayed and don’t have spying capabilities built in.

  • Luncheon of the Boating Party, Phillips Collection

    Inside of the Phillips Collection Museum in Washington DC with “Figure of the Oriental Theater,” by Paul Klee in the foreground and “Luncheon of the Boating Party” (1881) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir in the background.

  • How to Respond to a Request for Estimates on Software Development

    If they say they need some way of deciding if doing that work is wise or something that is going to be so difficult that it isn't worth it then some kind of estimate is sensible.  If they talk about scheduling, then other explanations make sense to me - talking about the issues with fixed estimates etc. but giving them alternatives of fixed schedule with variable features (if there is a business need to deliver on some date)., etc.

  • A Wise Way to Subsidize Electricity Rates

    When I lived in Malaysia I learned that the residential electricity rates were very low for the low levels of use and climbed fairly rapidly as you used a lot of electricity (say running your air conditioner a lot). I think this is a very good idea (especially for the not yet rich countries).

    Effectively the rich end up subsidizing the low rates for the poor, which is a very sensible setup it seems to me. The market functions fairly well even though it is distorted a bit to let the poor (or anyone that uses very little electricity) to pay low rates.

    In a country like Malaysia as people become rich they may well decide to use a great deal of electricity for air conditioning.

  • Ikea Business Model; and Growth and Society

    all you have to do is look at all the extremely highly paid executives in USA charities to see that charities often take on the form of corporations being run 1st to make executives happy and 2nd for other reasons (charitable in the instance of charities, education in the instance of large universities, profits of shareholders and all the other stakeholders in the instance of companies).

  • Process Behavior Charts are the Secret to Understanding the Organization as a System

    the power to improving performance is understanding if the problems are due to common causes or special causes. For common causes we need to explore the entire system, and all the data, and seek to improve the overall system. For special causes we need to seek what is special about the bad result and seek to eliminate that problem from causing problems in the future. Unfortunately most problems are system based and we most often jump to special cause thinking (so we often take the wrong approaches to improvement).

  • Deming’s Management Ideas Evolved Into the System of Profound Knowledge

    W. Edwards Deming spent decades refining his thoughts on management and refining how to present those thoughts. That thinking culminated in what he call the System of Profound Knowledge (SoPK).

    Over time his ideas remained grounded to what he expressed in the 1950’s. The expression of those ideas became richer and he raised the emphasis on understanding the critical interactions between the elements. He never saw the individual items (for example, individual points in the 14 points) as discrete items. They work together as a system. The SoPK provides a view that emphasizes the importance of the interdependence within the entire system of management.

  • Backyard Wildlife: Fox

    I have seen this (or another fox) several times recently but this was the first time it stayed visible long enough for me to get a photo. It is fun having backyard wildlife to connect us to nature.

    A few years ago another fox enjoyed laying out in the sun in my backyard for a few weeks.