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  • Management Improvement System Flavors

    There are many useful concepts, tools and practices within what people refer to as agile software development. And the same can be said for lean. But they are distinct approaches (the links in this post flush out this idea more for those interested in learning more on that topic). That isn’t to say an organization cannot design their own solution that adopts ideas found in each approach. In fact doing so for software development makes sense in my opinion.

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  • The World’s Smallest Mobile Color Printer

    Cool gadget: PrinCube is a tiny handheld, portable printer: it fits in the palm of your hand. It works over wifi with your phone to easily upload any text, image, or design and instantly print onto virtually any object or surface at the touch of a button.

    It makes precise prints on virtually any materials including paper, metal, textiles, plastics, wood, leather and other building and artistic materials.

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  • Bill Hunter and the Quality Movement

    In the presentation George Box discusses interesting student design of experiments projects; read more on those efforts in 101 Ways to Design an Experiment, or Some Ideas About Teaching Design of Experiments.

    ...

    George's closing statement:

    We carry in our hearts the inspiring memory of not only a scholar but a man that was resourceful, warm, skillful, courageous, optimistic, helpful, enterprising and generous. His career was whole and balanced in a way that is rare and as we grieve his death we also celebrate the life of a remarkable man.

     

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  • Deming on Management: Psychology

    Within Deming’s SoPK the psychology component includes an appreciation of:

    • how will people are influenced by management policies (for example, targets or a culture of blaming individuals)
    • the innate desire people have to take pride in their work
    • how people resist change (and how to reduce that resistance)
    • confirmation bias (one way our brains can lead us astray)
    • what drives people to behave as they do
    • and much more - continue reading the rest of the post to learn more...

    continue reading: Deming on Management: Psychology

  • Alley Spring Mill Trail, Missouri

    The Alley Spring Mill is in the Ozark National Scenic Riverway (part of the National Park system). The mill itself looks wonderful next to the pond and also has some interesting details inside.

    Corn and wheat was loaded at the ground level of the building and moved up to the top via the tiny buckets driven by the water wheel. Then the grain was filtered and ground using the water wheel as the source of power (moving up via the mini bucket elevators and down shoots to the machines on the ground level in sequence)...

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  • How to Successfully Lead Change Efforts

    In order to lead efforts to improve the management of an organization understanding how people will react to change is critical. For that reason I have written about change management often on this blog since I started publishing it in 2004.

    In, Why Do People Fail to Adopt Better Management Methods?, I wrote:

    It seems that if there were better ways to manage, people would adopt those methods. But this just isn’t the case; sometimes better methods will be adopted but often they won’t. People can be very attached to the way things have always been done. Or they can just be uncomfortable with the prospect of trying something new.

    Leading change efforts requires paying attention to the existing conditions: the culture, the motivation to adopt this change and/or the motivation to resist it, the history of change where the change is being attempted and the reasons the change is desired (by at least you and hopefully others). And then you need to build a case for the change and manage the process.

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  • Human Resources in the Post Deming Era

    There are many ways in which the management of our organizations needs to improve (understanding how to use data effectively, systems thinking…) and one of those important areas is in managing people. Managers spend far too little time learning about the existing conditions the people in the organization face, coaching those employees and working on improving the management system to help employees do great work.

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  • Deming on Management: PDSA Cycle

    Blog posts

    ...

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  • Factfulness – The Importance of Critical Thinking

    I have come to see a willingness to value critical thinking, even when it means forcing the organization to address tough issues, as one the differences between organizations that succeed in applying management improvement methods and those that fail. In many organizations that fail, more weight given to making things easy for your bosses versus continual improvement in providing value to customers (which often requires challenging existing processes, beliefs and power structures in the organization).

    Challenging the status quo is difficult and most organizations prefer to maintain a culture that takes an easier path. Management improvement often requires a willingness to encourage challenges to the status quo. The importance of challenging the status quo in your organization and in your own thinking is under appreciated.

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  • Leading The Transformation Process

    Transformation starts with the individual but as they change they can run into organizational barriers and resistance to change. Similarly if the organization institutes changes without helping people change their own understanding and views those people resist the changes in the organization.


    Deming’s management system provides a view of the organization as a system, including the people in that organization, and ideas for how to manage the transformation as an integrated system. The interactions between the components of the system and people must be considered and managed to transform. And those interactions continually change as the overall system evolves.

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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...

    continue reading: Design the Management System with an Appreciation of Confirmation Bias

  • 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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  • Leading Quality: Some Practical Approaches to the Managers New Job

    Throughout the talk Peter emphasis the importance of viewing the organization as a system and using the knowledge from that view to inform how the organization is lead, managed and how people are able to work. With a systems view it is possible to appreciate how many individual factors interact to impact how successful an organization can be and how those factors interact with each other.

    ...

    Peter Scholtes:

    We need to define what our customers get from us, not in terms of the product that we sell or the service that we offer, but in terms of capability that they acquire from us.

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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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  • 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…

    continue reading: My Willing Worker Award