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  • Backyard Wildlife: Family of Raccoons

    I took this photo of this mother Raccoon with 3 youngsters in my backyard. Raccoon’s are pretty big; it is somewhat amazing to me they manage to find enough to eat. I have seen individuals around over the years (not very often though) but only saw this family twice.

  • 84% of Software Defects Found in Production Could Have Been Found Using Pairwise Testing

    Studies show that 84% of defects found in production could have been found by testing every pair of parameter values.  Those bugs were the result of interactions between 2 parameters.  The complexity of software means there are many interactions and as the data shows often the bugs seen in production are the result of such interactions.

  • Transforming the Management System of an Organization

    I don’t think there are simple answers to the questions that take the form of “do this simple thing and you will have the results you wish to see.”

    ...

    There are principles that can be fairly easily captured (respect people, improve using iterative experiments, use data to learn and test your understanding when possible but also realize that using data is not always possible…), but doing that does not offer a simple recipe laying out what steps to take.  What should be implemented in your organization and what specific steps to take are not obvious, it requires applying the principles to your organization. And doing that also requires building the capability of your organization (including your people) to operate using those principles.

  • Stone Bridge over River, Yangshuo, China

    Stone bridge over river (that I was rafting down) in Yangshuo, China.

  • Optimize the Overall System Not the Individual Components

    The results of a system must be managed by paying attention to the entire system. When we optimize sub-components of the system we don’t necessarily optimize the overall system.

    ...

    Optimizing the results for one process is not the same as operating that process in the way that leads to the most benefit for the overall system.

  • Bell Labs Designing a New Phone System Using Idealized Design

    I remember hearing this same story when Russ Ackoff spoke at the Hunter Conference on Quality (which was named in honor of my father) in Madison, Wisconsin.

    If you haven’t heard this story you are in for a treat. And if you haven’t heard Russell Ackoff before you get to enjoy a great storyteller.

    Watch the video...

  • Hand by John Hunter

    Art by me when I was in Nigeria (and was 10 years old).

  • Understanding Data is Often Challenging

    Using data to understand the system and validate our theories and successful improvements is an important part managing well. In some cases it is fairly easy to understand and collect data that provides a clear and accurate measure of what we care about. But getting data that helps can also be very challenging.

    Creating a management system that aims to use data while focusing on continually improving is a great start.

  • Burning Toast: American Health System Style

    Democrats and Republicans have created a health care system in the USA over the last 40 years that “burns toast” at an alarming rate. As the symptoms of their health care system are displayed they call in people to blame for burning toast.

    Their participation in the “you burn, I’ll scrape” system is even worse than the normal burning then scraping process. They create a bad system over decades and ignore the burnt toast just telling people to put up with it. And when some burnt toast can’t be ignored any longer they then blame individuals for each piece of burnt toast.

    They demand that those they bring before them to blame, scrape off the burnt toast.  And they act shocked that the "toaster" burns toast.  It is the same "toaster" they designed and maintain at the behest of those benefiting from burnt toast and of course it burns toast (those results are the natural outcome of the system they designed and maintain).

  • Huge Payments to Executives for Good Luck

    A recent Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation article on the finding that:
    90 Cents of Every “Pay-for-Performance” Dollar are Paid for Luck. I agree that mainly we award senior executives huge pay based on luck and the natural result of the organization they are a part of.

    It is my personal belief that the excessive pay of executives reached such a harmful level that Dr. Deming would have added it to his list of 7 deadly diseases long ago if he were still with us.

  • USA Health-Care System Ranks 50th out of 55 Countries

    None of these rankings are perfect and neither is this one. But it is clear beyond any doubt that the USA healthcare system is extremely costly for no better health results than other rich countries (and even more expensive with again no better results than most poor countries). It is a huge drain on the economy that we continue to allow lobbyists and special interests to take advantage of the rest of us...

  • W. Edwards Deming Discussing the Leadership We Need in Our Organizations

    He mentions that walking around can be useful but it isn’t effective. Without the proper focus you only see a glossy picture. Going to where the work is done is important. But as with most management practices it must be done within a proper context and sadly it is often done in a superficial way. I discussed these ideas in my blog post, Management by Walking Around...

  • Improving the System to Reduce Costs Isn’t The Same as Cost Cutting

    Cutting costs by fiat via executive orders reduces the capability of the organization. Those costs are often born by customers. In the short term reducing costs in such a manner improves the financial statements. In the long run those cost reductions harm the companies ability to innovate, improve and delight customers.

    If instead we create a continual improvement capability and culture in the organization we will make improvements that in turn reduce costs (the Deming chain reaction).

  • Making Money as a Nomad in the USA

    There are many posts about how to make money online as a nomad. Some ideas work pretty well for some people (freelance work – especially as a digital nomad, writer, bookkeeper, etc.). The biggest problem isn’t learning about these options (they are repeated all the time in many different places online) but actually making them work for you.

    ...

    I have been paying much more attention lately to nomads in the USA which opens up income possibilities in addition to online income.

  • How to Lead From Any Level In the Organization

    From an interview with me:

    2. Help people solve their problems.

     Similar to helping other people grow their careers is the idea of helping other people to solve their problems. Again, this starts with a clear understanding of your sphere of influence. “It determines what strategies you can pursue, and building your sphere of influence should be part of your decision making process.”

    What it comes down to is proving yourself in this way—and doing so consistently. “It isn’t some secret sauce. Prove yourself to be valuable and you will gain influence. Help people solve their problems. They will be inclined to listen to your ideas.”