History

Rss logo

Posts selected fromManagement Blog - Engineering Blog - Investing Blog and other blogs

  • RSS feed for Management Improvement Blog Posts

    I have created a RSS feed for select blog posts from the start of the Curious Cat Management Improvement blog in 2004 (as well as other posts I have made on management improvement on other blogs). Subscribe to the John Hunter management improvement RSS feed. Doing so will add a post each day to your RSS feed reader from my past blog posts. Of course, the normal RSS feed for this blog will continue to provide access to the new blog posts that I publish.

    I also have a RSS feed on my posts on all topics (management improvement and also investing, travel, software development, engineering…) for those of you who are interested.

    continue reading: RSS feed for Management Improvement Blog Posts

  • Advice for Managers Who are Just Starting Out

    Read the Leader’s Handbook by Peter Scholtes and use it as a reference to guide your actions on a weekly basis.

    Learn to experiment and iterate quickly. Your main aim should be to manage the management system (which may mean the management practices used within your scope of authority or influence). As you start it will involve a significant amount of managing projects, to demonstrate your ability to deliver results, but that should be used to transition to building a strong management system.

    In conjunction with quick iteration and adoption of improvements your focus should be on coaching people to help them be more effective (among other things on helping them learn how to effectively practice evidenced based decision making and continual improvement).

    continue reading: Advice for Managers Who are Just Starting Out

  • Bad Ux by Google and the Value of RSS Feeds to Avoid Bad UX Practices

    Google has been really bad at UX (user experience) for a long time. I use RSS feeds to manage the content I want to enjoyand it works great (for blogs and You Tube and podcasts). Thankfully Google hasn't broken this yet (though given their track record in the last 10 years it would not surprise me if they do at some point).

    Of course it will be easy for creators to generate their own RSS feed for their videos if Google does break it. I created several feeds on my personal site for (selected blog posts by John Hunter and a time travel feed for my blog posts*).

    continue reading: Bad Ux by Google and the Value of RSS Feeds to Avoid Bad UX Practices

  • Factfulness – An Extremely Valuable Book

    Data is extremely valuable in helping us make decisions and evaluating the effectiveness of policy. However it is critical to be careful. It is very easy to focus on meeting targets that seem sensible – increasing the number of hospital beds – but that lead to less effective policy.

    ...

    The book relentlessly points out the great progress that has been made globally over the last 50 years and how that progress continues today and looks to be set to continue in the future. We have plenty of areas to work on improving but we should be aware of how much progress we have been making. As he points out frequently he has continually seen huge underestimation of the economic conditions in the world today. This book does a great job of presenting the real success we have achieved and the progress we can look forward to in the future.

    continue reading: Factfulness – An Extremely Valuable Book

  • Good Project Management Practices

    This post is in the style of my Good Process Improvement Practices and Practical Ways to Respect People posts.

    Good project management practices include

    • Deliver a working solution quickly; add value as you have time. Don’t aim to deliver a final product by the deadline and risk missing the deadline. Deliver a good solution early, adjust based on feedback and add more as you have time.
    • Prioritize – do fewer things, and do them well.
    • Limit work in process (WIP) – finish tasks, avoid the problems created by splitting attention across numerous tasks.
    • ...

    continue reading: Good Project Management Practices

  • Stone Forest, Yunnan, China

    I enjoyed my visit to the Stone Forest (South China Karst) area.  It was a shallow sea some 270 million years ago (the Permian period) when the sandstone and limestone deposits were formed. The entire Shilin National Scenic Area covers an area of 400 square km.

    Related: Floating Down River in Yangshuo, China on a Bamboo Raft, Jianshui Wet Market in Yunnan, China and Grand Mosque of Shadian, Yunnan, China

     

    continue reading: Stone Forest, Yunnan, China

  • Historical Global Economic Data and Current Issues for Globalization

    China and India/Pakistan accounted for 73% of the world manufacturing output in 1750. They continued to account for over half of global output even as later as 1830. By 1913, however, their share had dropped to 7.5%.

    That shows how quickly things changed. The industrialization of Europe and the USA was an incredibly powerful global economic force. The rapid economic gains of Japan, Korea, Singapore, China and India in the last 50 years should be understood in the context of the last 200 years not just the last 100 years.

    ...

    I believe he is onto something. I have for years been seeing the strains of “comparative advantage” in our current world economy. That doesn’t mean I am not mainly a fan of freer trade. I am. I don’t think complex trade deals such as TPP are the right move. And I do think more care needs to be taken to consider current economic conditions and factor that into our trade policies.

    ...

    The complexity of the economic consequences of international trade require knowledge, skill, patience and practical thinking to create economic gains going forward. I am worried about the foolish leaders we are electing in many of the rich countries recently. They do not appear to understand complexity or value the importance of expertise, uncertainty and implementation of economic policy. The complexity today requires more understanding, study, learning and care than was required last century but instead we are electing people with less wisdom than ever (and we were not electing incredibly wise people very often in the past).

    continue reading: Historical Global Economic Data and Current Issues for Globalization

  • Critical Thinking is Needed to Counter Propaganda

    That Russians used propaganda and misinformation to attempt to get voters to vote for Trump is important. But the main thing that should have prevented those attempts is sensible critical thinking. The best defense against propaganda is critical thinking and transparency. If the population is trained and accepts being lead to conclusions with obvious propaganda it doesn't matter if you shut off one path for propaganda, others will emerge.

    What you need to do is create an expectation of reasoned debate. Sadly the USA has done a very poor job of this. We have allowed politicians get away with obviously false claims. We have promoted not critical thinking but the unthinking following of propaganda.

    Until we greatly increase the respect for critical thought and debate we are in trouble. It doesn't matter much what form those seeking to use propaganda use to manipulate people what matters is how susceptible a large number of people are to propaganda.

    continue reading: Critical Thinking is Needed to Counter Propaganda

  • USA Household Debt Jumps to Record $13.15 Trillion

    The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Center for Microeconomic Data today issued its Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit, which reported that total household debt increased by $193 billion (1.5%) to $13.15 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2017. This report marks the fifth consecutive year of positive annual household debt growth. There were increases in mortgage, student, auto, and credit card debt (increasing by 1.6%, 1.5%, 0.7% and 3.2% respectively) and another modest decline in home equity line of credit (HELOC) balances (decreasing by 0.9%).

    Outstanding consumer debt balances by type: $8.88 trillion (mortgage), $1.38 trillion (student loans), $1.22 trillion (auto), $834 billion (credit card), $444 (HELOC).

    continue reading: USA Household Debt Jumps to Record $13.15 Trillion

  • Avoiding Difficult Problems

    One of the things that happens in many organizations is that working on things that are going to make lots of people mad are often avoided. This rotating shift work seems like something that is likely to make people upset.

    Even if you worked on improving it, likely during those PDSA cycles many people would be annoyed. And if you were working on it, you could get blamed, you could be tarnished as someone people didn't like it and didn't appreciate "you doing this to them." If, on the other hand, no one is making significant efforts to improve, even if people are annoyed it is at some amorphous policy and usually doesn't stick to 1 person. 

    If the dis-satisfaction does accumulate toward 1 person (say the plant manager) that person then often will push through and deal with it - or assign someone to deal with it and stay on them to make sure they do the difficult work (even if doing so will make that person's life much more difficult)...

    continue reading: Avoiding Difficult Problems

  • “Explaining” Random Variation

    When I was a reporter covering Cisco Systems Inc. in the late 1990s, it was my job to talk to several analysts a day to find out the latest bit of news that might move the networking company’s share price.

    If the stock moved more than 2% on any uptick in volume, I had to write a story explaining why. After dealing with that every day for about three years, I realized the overwhelming majority of analysts had no better clue than I did about what was moving Cisco’s stock.

    The “explanations” you hear from media often are just as useless as horoscopes. A bunch of meaningless words presented in the hopes you don’t realize they are empty words.

    The talking heads (and writers) need to say something. It would be much more useful if they took the time to do some research and put in some thought but they seem to be driven by the need to fill space instead of the need to inform.

    continue reading: “Explaining” Random Variation

  • Stock Market Capitalization by Country from 2000 to 2016

    One way to view the dominance of mega-companies is that the market cap for the top 4 stocks exceeds the market cap of all of Canada’s stocks (Apple $807 billion + Alphabet $687 billion + Microsoft $588 billion + Facebook $507 billion = $2.589 trillion). The next, Amazon $477 billion, bring the total for the top 5 to over $3 trillion (and surpasses the UK market cap, leaving only USA, China and Japan as larger markets).

    The USA market capitalization was at 46.9% of the global market cap in 2000 and fell to 31.6% in 2000 before rising to 42% in 2016. China grew from 1.8% of world stock market capitalization in 2000 to 6.9% in 2012 and 11.2% in 2016. Adding Hong Kong to China’s totals shows 3.7% in 2000 with growth to to 12.2% in 2012 and 16.2% in 2016.

    You may be surprised to learn that 26% of USA equities are owned by investors outside the USA.

     

    continue reading: Stock Market Capitalization by Country from 2000 to 2016

  • Looking in the Mirror at Customer Focus

    Most organizations say they are focused on meeting and exceeding customer needs. But, as a customer, this often isn’t what I experience.

    Delighting customers is critical to long term business success. Satisfied customers will remain your customers until they see the opportunity for something that might be better or is cheaper. Delighted customers are loyal and much more likely to remain customers.

    Delighting customers is often about paying attention to the small details. Paying close attention to customer’s jobs to be done is a powerful tool. Then apply creative thinking and a knowledge of your industry, technical possibilities and business realities to provide solutions that delight customers.

    continue reading: Looking in the Mirror at Customer Focus

  • Enjoying the Beach in Hoi An, Vietnam

    As I look at these photos and remember my time there I am reminded that I planned to be back on the road again by now (by last month was my original plan). I am a bit delayed getting ready to sell my house before I resume the nomad lifestyle. I can’t recall a time I have felt more eager to resume than I do now. Maybe this feeling will lead me to hurry up and get done what I need to do (but I suspect it may be next year before I am back to my nomad ways again)...

    continue reading: Enjoying the Beach in Hoi An, Vietnam

  • Health Savings Accounts in the USA

    Health Savings Accounts (HSA) allow you to save money in order to pay health expenses in a tax free account. They are similar to an IRA but are for health expenses.  Eligibility is limited to those with high deductible health care plans.

    HSA funds can be saved over the years. Flexible spending accounts are somewhat similar but that money can not be rolled from one year to the next. The idea with HSA is you can save money in good years so you have money to pay health care expenses in years when you have them.
     
    HSA are a great tool to buffer yourself against the very costly USA healthcare system.  It is far from a solution to the huge personal financial risks the USA system imposes on people, but it is a wise small step to help cope with the system until we finally get around to catching up to the rest of the rich countries on earth by adopting a much less bad health care system.

    continue reading: Health Savings Accounts in the USA