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  • Parfrey’s Glen, Wisconsin

    Parfrey’s Glen is about an hour outside of Madison next to the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.  The trail covers over 1,200 miles throughout Wisconsin.

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  • People are Our Most Important Asset

    ideally the organization would be providing all employees excellent coaching opportunities, all employees would be paid more than fairly, all employees would have the opportunity to develop along their desired plan, all employees would have great leadership, all employees would not be subject to continually annoyance of management system failures, all employees could count on the support of the system when needed…

    But in organizations that I have worked for we are have not reached that point. So while working to move the organization closer and closer to that goal, I believe making some extra effort to focus on those people that are helping move the organization in that direction. But it is risky if done without an understanding of systems, variation, psychology, etc.  Providing extra coaching, advice and attempting to protect people from the management failures you can’t get fixed seem like pretty safe methods.

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  • Tilting at Ludicrous CEO Pay

    I continue to tilt at the robber barron CEO pay packages. Hopefully, at some point, the people approving these obscene pay packages can be shamed into stopping or replaced by people with some sense of decency. I was taught in the days of robber barrons the business world was seen as an amoral place (morality did not belong in this area of human endeavor) but that over time society decided that in fact morality did apply there. It is hard to reconcile that change with the behavior of CEOs and board approving ludicrous pay packages.

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  • Design the Management System with an Appreciation of Confirmation Bias

    To create strong organizations we must create management systems using an appreciation of psychology. We must understand that people have tendencies that must be addressed by designing a management system built to take advantage of the strengths those people bring and mitigate the risks of the weaknesses (such as confirmation bias) that those people also bring.

    One way to do this is to seek out voices in your organization that question and challenge accepted positions...

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  • Shared Principles for Managing People Engaged in Diverse Tasks

    ...I do agree that the system within which people are operating determines how they must be managed. There are definitely features of software development that are significantly different than manufacturing scalpels or basketballs or tables. As there is a difference between a surgical team in an operating room, road construction, mining, editing books, investment banking, manufacturing industrial robots, researching new drugs, manufacturing drugs, teaching in a university, maintaining plane engines, coaching an athletic team...

    I see universal principles of management (respect for people, customer focus, continual improvement...) that cross all different human enterprises. How those principles should be manifest in a particular situations depend on the work being done, the management system that is in place, the individual people involved, the specific focus of the effort right now... The way those principles are manifest will look very different in all the varied types of organizations we create and the different work and processes used within those organizations.

    ...

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  • Rethinking Statistics for Quality Control with George Box

    George Box shared a presentation on Rethinking Statistics for Quality Control at the 2008 Deming Institute Conference in Madison, Wisconsin.

    In the presentation George discusses how to look at data from a process. He mentions why it was so important to understand what Shewhart understood about process data: the order of the data is extremely important; which is why run charts and control (process behavior) charts are plotted in time order...

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  • Real Estate Investing: Amazon’s Regional Office in Arlington, Virginia

    Amazon announced they are opening major new offices in Arlington, Virginia and New York City [Amazon has sinced decided not to go ahead with the NYC plans]. Each site will hold 25,000 new Amazon employees at an average salary above $150,000...

    The direct impact of Amazon’s employees renting and buying in and around Arlington is not going to be very strong for a couple years...  But investors already can plan for a strong future demand from Amazon and all the activity that Amazon’s growing presence will contribute to.

    ...

    Unlike the stock market where such a predicable strong investment future would drive prices up say 30-50% immediately, in real estate it is much more likely for the gains to be spread out over the long term.

    If prices in housing increase in Arlington it is more likely they would increase say 10% in the first year and then an extra 3% (above what the increase would have been without Amazon’s move) each of the next 10 years. From a long term investors perspective this provides a great possibility for buying now (even after the news) and not having to pay a huge premium.

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  • Understanding and Using Data: Waffle House Example

    ...The Waffle House closure data is based on actually closing based existing conditions while warnings and evacuation recommendations are based on predictions about the weather and the impacts those will have on locations.  The warnings are necessarily predictions (to be useful for the whole community they need lead times to take action) where the Waffle House has more flexibility and the organization has managed their system to be more capable of adapting to harsh conditions.  There is a real similarity with designing a agile software development process that is able to be more flexible and react quicker than old "waterfall" style organizations that have to predict far in advance and adapt slowly as conditions change...

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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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  • 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.

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