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- Drone Deliveries to Hospitals in Rwanda
Partnering with the Government of Rwanda, Zipline serves 21 hospitals nation-wide. They provide instant deliveries of lifesaving blood products for 8 million Rwandans.
Their drones are tiny airplanes (instead of the more common tiny helicopter model). Supplies are delivered using parachute drops from the drone. Landings are similar to landings on aircraft carriers (they grab a line to help slow down the drone) and, in a difference from aircraft carrier landings, the drone line drops them onto a large air cushion.
The drones can deliver up to 50-75 km (which I believe means they must have a range for 150 km because they must return to their home base). The cost is about equivalent to the current (much slower) delivery methods (car or motor bike).
continue reading: Drone Deliveries to Hospitals in Rwanda
- 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.
continue reading: Wonderful Jungle Hike at Mount Santubong, Borneo, Malaysia
- 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.
continue reading: Improvements to Credit Collection Requirements Have Had a Positive Impact
- 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.
continue reading: The Best Form of Fire Fighting is None at All
- Large Scale Redox Flow Battery (700 megawatt hours)
Scientists and engineers in Germany have created the largest battery in the world with redox flow technology.
Redox flow batteries are liquid batteries. The Friedrich Schiller University of Jena has developed a new and forward-looking salt-free (brine) based metal-free redox flow battery. This new development will use salt caverns as energy storage.
Both charged electrolytes can be stored for several months. The maximum storage capacity of this redox-flow battery is limited only by the size of the storage containers for the electrolyte liquids.
The project is being ramped up now, going through a test phase before bringing the full system online; they are aiming to achieve this in 6 years. The electrical capacity of 700 megawatt hours will be enough to supply over 75,000 households with electricity for one day.
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- 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
- 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.
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- 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)...
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- The New Age of Robots and What it Means for Jobs
Industrial robots are the most advanced application of robots in business today but they are still far from plug and play solutions. They require skilled experts to have them work effectively; but the capabilities and usability have greatly increased over the last 20 years. Respect for people (and all that entails about the management system) is an important part of creating a management system to have the most success integrating robots.
The ability of us to create technological solutions to accomplish tasks that required people has exploded in the last 20 years and will continue to. Lawyers are finding much of what they do can be done by a computer. Much, doesn’t mean all, obviously. Search and rescue in disaster areas is another task that robots are playing an increasing role in; and the use of robots will likely continue to grow quickly. Technology is taking over many aspects of medical care that were not long ago seen as requiring highly trained and experience medical professionals (reading scans, diagnosing illness…).
I think many of these advances are moving so quickly that we are not properly thinking about the long term future of our organizations. The disruption these changes will take will be difficult to predict and plan for.
continue reading: The New Age of Robots and What it Means for Jobs
- “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