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  • Communicating Change

    I believe the best way to communicate such changes is to explain how they tie into the long term vision of the organization. This requires that such a vision actually exists (which is often not the case). Then all strategies are communicated based on how they support and integrate with that vision. In addition that communication strategy incorporates an understanding about what weaknesses with past practices are addressed by this new strategy...

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  • Bigger Impact: 15 to 18 mpg or 50 to 100 mpg?

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    It also illustrates that the way the data is presented makes a difference. You can also view 100 mpg as 1/100 gallon per mile, 2/100 gallons per mile, 5.6/100 gpm and 6.7 gpm. That way most everyone sees that the 6.7 to 5.6 gpm saves more fuel than 2 to 1 gpm does. Mathematics and scientific thinking are great – if you are willing to think you can learn to better understand the world we live in every day.

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  • Deming Companies

    I see Toyota as the best example of a Deming company. Dr. Deming did not propose a cookbook to follow. Instead he proposed a theory that requires learning and application within the specific institution. Toyota has created a management system that is based on Dr. Deming’s ideas and then they have evolved that over 60 years into something that is consistent with Deming’s management philosophy and has new ideas Deming did not mention. As odd as it may sound that very act of developing new concepts that were not mentioned by Dr. Deming is exactly what makes them the company that most exemplifies Deming’s management system.

    Other companies that have also done a great job applying his ideas. Peaker Services has done great things...

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  • Great Visual Instruction Example

    This does a great job of explaining what you need to know clearly. While this presentation for Azithromycin doesn’t prevent a mistake it sure makes it much more likely that the process can be completed successfully. We need more effort in creating such clear instructions.

    Visual clarity is more important than lots of words. Applying that concept is not as easy as it sounds but it is a very important idea for instructions to end use and instructions for processes in your organization.

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  • Getting and Keeping Great Employees

    I think the main thing to do is to respect employees (and have that visible in the management decisions made in the organization). Stopping the demotivation would be a big step for many organizations. And to manage your organization with the understanding that the organization’s purpose should be to benefit the various stakeholders (shareholders, customer… and employees).      

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  • Arbitrary Rules Don't Work

    You can’t just expect people to act in a way that seems arbitrary.

    ...

    It is not ok to expect people to think the way you want them to. You have to understand how people will react and create solutions based on that.

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  • Joy in Work – Software Development

    Software programmers are more likely to really enjoy what they do. There are many reasons for this not the least of which is that they have a fair amount of control over their careers. If they don’t like what they are asked to do, the tools they are asked to work with… they will (more than others) leave for another job.

    Some managers get frustrated that such people are not willing to put up with the normal bother everyone else seems willing to accept (programmers are often “unreasonable”). But I see an occupation that is more focused on joy in work than most. And creating joy in work is what managers should be worrying about – not getting troublemakers to fall into line.

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  • The Problem with Targets

    ... Brian Joiner provides another reason why targets are harmful: there are “3 ways to improve the figures: distort the data, distort the system and improve the system. Improving the system is the most difficult.” And so most often targets results in distortion of the data (faulty data) or distortion of the system (meet target by shifting resources and effort from other parts of the system). Both of those actions are harmful to the system.

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  • The Lazy Unreasonable Man

    My view of myself places me in both of these camps (lazy and unreasonable). But, honestly, I have become more reasonable over time and while it makes me less difficult to put up with I think I am less effective...

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  • 2007 has been a difficult year for Toyota

    I find the quote “2007 has been a difficult year for Toyota” found in The Dings and Dents of Toyota a bit amusing. Toyota has had some problems as the article notes like product recalls and losing a handful of employees to Ford and Chrysler. They are about even with GM in worldwide sales and posted a profit of nearly $14 Billion (I believe maybe 20 companies have ever earned that much in any year) in the year ending March 2007 and continue to make huge profits this year (Toyota reported their best quarter ever in August). With difficulty like this who needs success:-)

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  • Fooled by Randomness

    When people are asked to explain random variations in data they will make up special causes (that they often even believe are special causes even when they are not) but you can improve management a great deal by just stopping the requirement to “explain” common cause variation...

    Use that time instead to standardize processes. Create control charts for critical processes. Run experiments using PDSA cycle

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  • Traveling for Health Care

    My guess is that traveling for health care is going to increase greatly in the future. Health costs in the USA are enormous. Costs in Europe are different – often in wait time (or costs to avoid waiting) but another option is available – travel. Countries would be very wise to focus on building up this industry in my opinion. The economic benefits could be huge. The market is huge and growing. And the rich countries do not appear to be doing very well – especially the USA. The country needs to invest in a rigorous quality assurance system.

    It is almost certain the first attack will be attempts to frighten customers by saying your country is unsafe. And those tactics will be used to try and get the governments of rich countries to impose restraints on the ability of their citizens to seek health care in your country...

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  • Bringing Lean Principles to Service Industries

    Iteration is very important. It is important in proper use of the PDSA cycle – many quick iterations are much better than one long slow one. And for software application development it is an excellent strategy.

    I think iteration is even more important in software application development than most other areas (for now anyway) because many stakeholders cannot visualize what they need from software. Therefore attempts to force rigid requirements up front fail...

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  • T.N. Goh received ASQ Statistics Division’s William G. Hunter Award

    I first met Bill 38 year ago, when he was in Singapore helping us set up the first school of engineering in the country. He persuaded me to go to the graduate school at UW-Madison and I daresay that’s the best advice I ever got in my whole career. Now when I come to think of it, what Bill stood for in his lifetime has not been, and never will be, out of date. He had advocated the use of statistical thinking and the systems approach, which if anything is even more critical today in handling issues such as global warming and government effectiveness...

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  • Bring Me Solutions Not Problems

    What they are saying is: if you know of a problem but don’t know of a solution I would rather we continue to have that problem than admit some of my staff don’t know how to fix it (and then have to deal with it myself – maybe then having to accept responsibility for results instead of just blaming you if I am never told and there is a problem later…). I think that is setting exactly the wrong expectations.

    Employees should fix things. They should bring solutions to managers to improve things that might be out of their ability to fix. But if they know of a problem and not a solution and a manager tells the employee they don’t want to be brought problems then I don’t want that manager.

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