John Hunter
Photo of John Hunter at Olympic National Park

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Posts selected from Management Blog - Engineering Blog - Investing Blog and other blogs

  • Engineering Graduates Earned a Return on Their Investment In Education of 21%

    Engineering graduates earned a return on their investment of 21%. The next highest were math and computers (18%); health (18%); and business (17%). Even the lowest returns are quite good: education (9%), leisure and hospitality (11%), agriculture (11%) and liberal arts (12%).

    These returns look at graduates without post-graduate degrees (in order to find the value of just the undergraduate degree).

  • Niamey Grand Market, Niger, Africa

    We lived in Nigeria (my Dad was a Chemical Engineering professor) and took a trip during winter vacation through Nigeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Togo and Benin. I am nearly certain the photo is in Niger and very likely Niamey but it is possible it is elsewhere.

    My mom and brother are in the photo, which is likely taken by my father (or maybe by me). In this part of the trip we were quite far off the beaten path. The only foreigners we noticed were a National Geographic film crew at the market.

  • Self Driving Cars Have Huge Potential for Benefit to Society (2014)

    The potentially to reduce the amount of death and serious injury we currently experience is a great goal. I have always found our objection to new ideas that it has a drawback and will ignoring the drawbacks of the current system to be poor reasoning. It is often related to an attachment to the familiar and reluctance to change.

    It also relates to our psychology where we often see mistakes of commission as more harmful than omission and then we equate doing the same thing we did before as the assumed behavior and somehow not something we chose (which of course is not accurate, it is an act of commission even if it is the same action as before but psychologically we mistake this relation).

    It also related to our legalistic thinking to blame individuals, even when that is not sensible as systems are more responsible for the results. This will be one of the challenges to a safer transportation system – the desire to assign blame in the same way we did before. The delay of safer solutions because lawyers don’t like the new system would be a shame, but is possible. While a delay is possible I don’t think they will be able to prevent a safer transportation solution from becoming a reality.

  • Hexawise Buys the Beers

    George Box was an amazing person, scientist and statistician. One of the traditions George started in Madison, Wisconsin was the Monday Night Beer Sessions.

    An excerpt of Mac Berthouex’s introduction to An Accidental Statistician: The Life and Memories of George E. P. Box:

    I met George Box in 1968 at the long-running hit show that he called “The Monday Night Beer Session,” an informal discussion group that met in the basement of his house. I was taking Bill Hunter’s course in nonlinear model building. Bill suggested that I should go and talk about some research we were doing.

    Hexawise has decided to bring this tradition to software testing...

  • Replying to Tweets Usefully

    Certainly responding could be done in a spamming way. And that should not be done. But you can respond by being helpful. And rely on some of those seeing that you provide useful information wanting to learn more.

    A measure of if you are providing useful replies see how often it is retweeted.

  • Companies Trumpet Stock Buybacks and Act as Though Stock Givaways Don’t Matter

    "One of the things that annoy me as an investor is how happy the executives are to grant themselves huge amount of pay in general and stock in particular. The love to giveaway huge amounts of stock to themselves and their buddies and then pretend that isn’t a cost.

    Thankfully the GAAP rules changed a few years ago to require making the costs of stock giveaways show up on official earnings statements. Now, the companies love to trumpet non-GAAP earnings that exclude stock based compensation to employees."

  • Revolutionary Management Improvement May Be Needed But Most Management Change is Evolutionary

    Revolutionary change is powerful but very difficult for entrenched people and organizations to actually pull off. It is much easy to dream about doing so.

    Often even revolutionary ideas are adopted in a more evolutionary way: partial adoption of some practices based on the insight provided by the revolutionary idea.

  • Mistake Proofing Using Enhanced Stop Signs

    The video shows a system that cascades a sheet of water and displays a stop sign directly in the path of trucks ready to crash into a tunnel (because the truck is too tall).

    The driver had ignored several less obvious signals that they were headed for danger. This is an application of one of my favorite management (and industrial engineering) concepts: mistake proofing. As I have stated before, often it is really mistake making more difficult (as it is in this case) rather than mistake proofing.

  • Evolutionary v. Revolutionary Management Improvement

    I do think both are needed. But I also think we exaggerate our revolutionary management changes - I just think it is really rare. We normally keep pretty much the same management system and tweak it will a couple new tools and maybe some new concepts.

  • Out of Touch Executives Damage Companies: Go to the Gemba

    The very first thing that needs to happen is executives need to go the gemba and actually understand what their business units are doing. Only amazingly out of touch executives could sit unconcerned in their offices while Comcast practices are creating results so obviously horrible.

  • Use Urls – Don’t Use Click x, Then Click y, Then Click z Instructions

    In the 1980s software applications had to use click x, then click y, then click z type instructions to get you to a specific location in a software application (or at least they had a decent excuse to do that). Too many web application development organizations forget that they now have urls to direct people exactly where to go: and that they shouldn’t rely on ancient “click here, then there, then in that other place” type instructions.

  • Floating Down River in Yangshuo, China on a Bamboo Raft

    The scenery in Yangshuo (near Guilin), China was great. Floating down the river on bamboo rafts was wonderful. I floated down a second river the day after the first because I liked it so much.

  • "I Know"

    My preferred countermeasure to the "I know" mentality is to ask a question. You can quickly learn you don't know as much as you thought you did when you try to explain what you know.

  • A Vision can be a Powerful Driver but Most Often It is Just a Few Pretty Words

    When the vision is merely a pretty collection of words that doesn’t drive decisions and behavior it is pointless. When it does drive behavior it is powerful. Sadly that is rarely the case.      

  • Children are Amazingly Creative At Solving Problems

    “The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance – it is the illusion of knowledge.” Daniel Boorstin


            

John Hunter has experience in management improvement (customer focused continuous improvement, process improvement, systems thinking) and related areas. Since 1995, I have used the internet and internet technology to improve the results of management improvement efforts.

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