New: Curious Cat Gadget Blog

New: Living in Malaysia

  • Backyard Wildlife: Hawk - My view today was quite nice as this large hawk landed on my deck outside my study...
  • The Illusion of Knowledge - One of the challenges is that you need to be willing to question your beliefs but at the same time you need to make many decisions every day based on your beliefs. And I don't think it is wise to assume nothing. You need to make a huge number of assumptions everyday or you won't even be able to get out of bed...
  • For the 14 biggest manufacturing countries in 2008, the overall manufacturing GDP percentage was 23.7% of GDP in 1980 and dropped to 17% in 2008.  You may use this chart with attribution.
    USA manufacturing output has grown substantially: over 300% since 1980, and 175% since 1990. Still, the proportion of manufacturing output by the USA (for the top 14 manufacturers) has declined from 31% in 1980, 28% in 1990, 32% in 2000 to 24% in 2008.
  • Personal Finance Basics: Avoid Debt - "Many aspects of personal finance can get a bit confusing or require some study to understand. But really much of it isn't very complicated. Debt is often toxic to personal financial success. The simple step you can take to avoid the problems many face is to just not buy things until you save up for them."
  • Trust Your Staff to Make Decisions - Often managers don't trust that their systems to hire and develop people that will make good decisions. The solution to this problem is not to give your staff no authority. The solution is to manage your systems so that you can trust your people.
  • 67 Is The New 55 - "We have not raised retirement age along with our increasing longevity. That is workable, if you save enough extra during your work life to enjoy a longer retirement. However, we are not saving even enough to retirement properly even if the life expectancy had not increased over the last 50 years."
  • Statistical Engineering Links Statistical Thinking, Methods and Tools - There is huge waste in not applying statistics tools. Good tools exist to help organizations improve results. We need to focus on getting those tools used and statistical thinking adopted by managers and senior executives.
  • Home Engineering: Bird Feeder That Automatically Takes Photos When Birds Feed - During a trip to the Smithsonian last week I found this great home engineering project. Kayty Himelstein and Amy Darr were frustrated: birds came to their bird feeder while they were away at school, so the girls never got to see them. They decided to build a bird feeder that automatically takes pictures of all the birds that came to the feeder.
  • Incentivizing Behavior Doesn't Improve Results - But the evidence continues to pile up against some outdated management practices. And good managers have to learn and adapt their practices to what is actually effective. "3 factors lead to better performance: autonomy, mastery and purpose"
  • Mistake Proofing Deployment of Software Code - Mistake-proofing a process both improves it (many poka-yoke solutions make the process easier to use) and prevents an error in case you still try something wrong.
  • Interruptions Can Severely Damage Performance - the main cost of interruptions is the time it takes to get back to where you were before the interruption. And the cost is related to how much focus is needed to address what you are working on.
  • Teaching Through Tinkering - I think this is the best way to learn, not learning to pass a test, but learning to gain knowledge and accomplish things.
  • Ignoring Unpleasant Truths is Often Encouraged - If your organization encourages people to ignore unpleasant truths it makes managing more difficult and results in poorer performance.
  • The Toyota Way, Two Pillars - Toyota, and every organization, needs to continuously maintain a focus on actually doing what is said to be important (following the Toyota Way, for example). This is not easy. It is something that has to be re-enforced every day.
  • Avoiding the Vicious Cycle of Credit Problems - If we just acted more responsibly when times were good we would have plenty of room to absorb a temporary financial hit without the negative cycle starting. The time to best manage this cycle is before you find yourself in it. Avoiding it is far better than trying to get out of it.