Posts selected fromManagement Blog - Engineering Blog - Investing Blog and other blogs
- Give People Enough Rope (and the Right Rope) to Succeed
You want systems that let people take on challenges without too many restrictions but with enough support and training that you don't leave them hanging.
the ropes should suit their situation. A tightrope over a chasm is fine for a trained acrobat with a balancing pole. It is foolish for someone without the right training or tools. They would be better served with something else - a rope bridge with railings.
continue reading: Give People Enough Rope (and the Right Rope) to Succeed
- Avoiding Difficult Problems
Coping with this issue (of avoiding unpleasant, systemic and long term rather than acute problems) is one of the things that separates great corporate culture from decent or bad corporate culture.
If there are fairly obvious or fairly easy improvements those would likely be acted on. There are, rarely, but still sometimes, instances where those vocal or politically powerful individuals who would lose out in a fairly obvious improvement will prevent action.
I am not convinced there are not ways to improve the situation. And I am pretty confident it is important enough to try. And I believe (though I might be wrong) with a concerted effort of knowledgable people improvements that would make a big difference in the quality of life could be achieved. I am not so certain those people involved in leading the effort would be seen in great lights though even if they "succeed." People are much more likely to remember negative consequences to them personally, even if they gain much more than they lost overall.
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- Psychology – Managing Human Systems
People are not cogs in a machine. Everyone brings extraordinary talents and abilities to the organization. Dr. Deming sought to maximize the value people bring to the organization. This requires giving them pride in their work, freedom to use their brain, tools to be effective and systems that allow people to practice continual improvement.
Creating an environment where people flourish is key to Deming’s thinking. Deming understood what John McGregor put forth in the Human Side of Enterprise (1960) that people have an innate desire to take pride in what they do. Management’s job was to allow people to fulfill this need, not to attempt to manipulate behavior through external motivation.
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- My Willing Worker Award
Data very similar to that provided by the Red Bed Experiment is used everyday in businesses to reward and punish people. Data is used to blame those who fall short of expectations and reward those who have good numbers. In the Red Bead Experiment we know the numbers are not a sensible measure of value provided by the employee. But in our organizations we accept numbers that are just as unrelated to the value provided by the employe to rate and reward employees.
There is a powerful need to improve the numeracy (literacy with numbers) in our organizations. It isn’t a matter of complex math. The concepts are fairly simple…
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- Applying Deming’s Management Ideas at the Great Plains Coca Cola Bottling Company
The difficulty in changing is often mostly about our psychology (not the technical difficulty of operating under changed systems and processes after making adjustments to adapt to take advantage of new opportunities).
Results matter but within a context of the process. If I double profits by wagering all the cash we can borrow on the roulette wheel that result isn’t a sign that we are doing much better. Using data wisely requires understanding what the data tells you and what it does not tell you.
continue reading: Applying Deming’s Management Ideas at the Great Plains Coca Cola Bottling Company
- Borobudur Temple in Java, Indonesia
Borobudur is an amazing Buddhist temple built in the 9th century.
Borobudur is among my favorite travel destinations. I have been lucky enough to visit many wonderful places and Borobudur stands out even with strong competition.
continue reading: Borobudur Temple in Java, Indonesia
- ACA Healthcare Subsidy – Why Earning $100 More Could Cost You $5,000 or More
One of the benefits of the USA Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA) is that health insurance costs are subsidized for those earning less than 400% of poverty level income. The way that this has been designed you could get $5,000 (or more, or less) in subsidies if you earn just below the 400% level and $0 if you earn just above.
60 year old in Virginia - earning $48,200 would receive $7,073 in subsidies (60% of the cost*). Earning $48,300 would mean receiving $0 in subsidies (for this and also examples, the examples shown are for a single individual, you can use the tool to try different scenarios).
The subsidy levels for those with very high health insurance costs (especially those over 50 years old, or with a family) are very large. If you are close to the subsidy cutoff level the costs of going over can be huge, costing you $5,000 or even over $10,000 just by making an extra $100.
continue reading: ACA Healthcare Subsidy – Why Earning $100 More Could Cost You $5,000 or More
- 10 Stocks for 10 Years (2018 version)
The 10 stocks I selected for this 2nd version are (closing price on 22 April 2005 – % of portofilo invested):
- Tencent (TCEHY) – $43 and 15% (using the USA ADR). A phenomenal company with incredible global prospects for the long term. As the stock price has been hampered by concerns about China it has great potential for appreciation from the current price.
- Alibaba (BABA) – $175 and 15% (using USA ADR). Another phenomenal company with incredible global prospects that has performed poorly this year due to China concerns.
- Alphabet (GOOGL) – $1,254 and 11% (in the original 2005 portfolio the price was $216 and it started at 12% of the portfolio. The prospects are great long term, the stock price reflects that so it isn’t cheap but over the long term I expect it to do very well).
- Apple (AAPL) – $225 and 11% (I added Apple to the original 10 for 10 portfolio in 2010. The biggest mistake in the original portfolio was leaving off Apple, I considered it but chose not to include it. It has been my largest stock holding for years. It has been very cheap even just a few years ago, though today I think the price is much more reasonable so it isn’t the great bargin it has been. Still the long term prospects are great.)
- Abbvie (ABBV) – $97 and 10% (I added Abbive to the original portfolio in 2014. I would select a couple other healthcare stocks in a real invested portfolio for balance but Abbvie is the company I am most comfortable with so I include it here.)
- Toyota (TM) $125 and 9%
continue reading: 10 Stocks for 10 Years (2018 version)
- Backyard Wildlife: Red-tailed Hawk
I see red-tailed hawks in my backyard occasionally. This one has a squirrel on a high tree branch in my backyard. The video shows it fly away.
When I hear a murder of crows squawking loudly I often can spot a red-tailed hawk (or perhaps some other hawks) near my yard.
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- Effective Change Management Strategies and Tactics
Create systems focused on continual improvement with built in checks for frequent assessment, reflection and adjustment to the changes the organization attempts to make. This effort should be iterative.
Building the capacity of the organization to successfully adopt improvements will directly aid change efforts and also will build confidence that efforts to change are worthwhile and not, as with so many organizations, just busy work.
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- Peter Scholtes on Teams and Viewing the Organization as a System
Peter includes a description of the creation of the “organization chart” (which Peter calls “train wreck management”) that we are all familiar with today; it was created in the Whistler report on a Western Railroad accident in 1841.
Almost a direct quote from the Whistler report: “so when something goes wrong we know who was derelict in his duty.” The premise behind the traditional organizational chart is that systems are ok (if we indeed recognize that there are such things as systems) things are ok if everyone would do his or her job. The cause of problems is dereliction of duty.
This is an absolutely great presentation: I highly recommend it (as I highly recommend Peter’s book: The Leader’s Handbook).
Without understanding a systems view of an organization you can’t understand whats at the heart of the quality movement and therefore everything else you do, management interventions, ways of relating to people, will reflect more likely the old philosophy rather than the new one.
Points like this are very true but difficult to understand until you come to view organizations as systems.
continue reading: Peter Scholtes on Teams and Viewing the Organization as a System
- Wonderful Jungle Hike at Mount Santubong, Borneo, Malaysia
My hike on Mount Santubong was an amazing experience. The hike was quite challenging; very step climbing for a long time.
The trail climbed like this for a long time. The ropes could help you climb (especially necessary if there had been rain recently as it is not only steep but slippery when went). Quite frequently rope ladders were necessary to aid the climb.
The Rhinoceros Hornbills I saw on the hike were amazing.
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- Improvements to Credit Collection Requirements Have Had a Positive Impact
Abuse of the credit system by 3rd party collection agencies (and credit reporting agencies) in the USA has been a long term problem.
An attempt to partially address some of the abuses was a change in the required reporting practices that impacted collections accounts specifically, known as the National Consumer Assistance Plan (NCAP), which rolled into effect during the second half of 2017.
This was a small good step in protecting consumers from the bad behavior of credit reporting companies and their customers. But much more must be done to protect us from having our financial lives negatively impacted by bad practices of the credit reporting companies.
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- The Best Form of Fire Fighting is None at All
The best form of problem solving is to avoid problems altogether.
At the point you have a “fire” in your organizaiton you have to fight it. But it is better to create systems that avoid fires taking hold in the first place.*
This is a simple idea. Still many organizations would perform better if they took this simple idea to heart. Many organizations suffer from problems, not that they should solve better, but problems they should have avoided altogether.
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- Surviving Modern Conveniences
Today my car wouldn't start. I guessed the battery died.
I try to use Lyft. Their app says it is a bad connection and so it won't work (using iPhone on Sprint in Charlotte, NC - the 17th largest city in the USA). Sad but ok, whatever, deal with it. Ok try my iPad mini with ATT. Lyft connects and doesn't let me use it requires putting in a phone number before it will do anything so that I can get pin and give it to them. Ok, give them the number. Nothing ever comes from them.
Ok try Uber on iPhone. Uber asked for permission to spy all the time (not just when you are using Uber). Decline that intrusion. Now it can't find my current location. So I type it in. It finds it. Uber says it isn't available where I am and only offers their "luxury" options.
The modern convinces really did help in many ways (I am still hoping the trickle charger will help, though as I write this it is still questionable). The battery is about 10 months old. But while it is great to have cell phones and apps to help us when we are stuck it is very annoying to have such bad connectivity in the 19th largest city in the USA and such lame usability failure in the Uber and Lyft apps. And it is frustrating to have to deal with your own lameness that likely caused the battery to die (I left the lights on in the car - the garage had lights on so I didn't register the car lights were not going off...) and putting in the wrong address...
continue reading: Surviving Modern Conveniences