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  • Photo from the top of Borobudur

    I have been adding some photos to Curious Cat Photos including this one from Borobudur in Indonesia.

    Also see photos of Mount Rainier National Park in Washington state and others from the USA.

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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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  • Toyota Mirai – Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Car

    I am curious, even skeptical, about the potential for hydrogen fuel cell versus battery passenger cars. I do respect Toyota and so am wondering if they do indeed see something that most others are missing.

    ...

    I do think hydrogen fuel cells may provide a better option for larger vehicles (maybe even shipping), but I have done next to no research on this so I may be wrong.

    It seem unlikely to me that hydrogen fuel cell passenger cars are going to make it but I would be happy to be wrong. Perhaps the advantages will overcome what seem to me to be challenges that are going to prevent them from being successful. I am confused about how committed to this strategy Toyota is (which makes me question my belief that hydrogen fuel cell passenger cars are not going to be successful).

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  • The Early History Of Quality Management Online

    I started looking at quality management resources online in 1995 (maybe 1994). At the time I was on the board of the Public Sector Network – what would become the American Society of Quality (ASQ) government division. When we started working with ASQ it took something like 2 months from the time I wrote an article until people received it. Now in 1995, the internet (outside of universities) was in its infancy. I was writing a column on the resources online for quality management – these consisted of bulletin boards (that you used your modem to call directly) and “gopher” and “ftp” sites and email lists a very few web sites... Well things changed frequently back then and by the time my article would be published phone numbers wouldn’t work, addresses would be out of date, etc..

    So I figured I should post my article online so people could just go there and see the updated phone numbers, addresses, etc.. That wasn’t so easy to do back then. But several of us at a W. Edwards Deming Institute conference decided to create a Deming Electronic Network (DEN)...

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  • Psychology Often Drives Decisions Rather Than Rational Thought

    I think that the primary thing to remember is that often people's actions and decisions are guided by psychology rather than thoughtful deliberation and choosing the most sensible option (given that person's desires).  What this means is you can't expect rational decision making to guide others decisions and actions.  You are often better understanding common psychology and how that impacts decision making.

      ...

    There are 2 reasons this is important: first you are likely making decisions this way and can improve your decision making by understanding how you are making decisions.  And second if you are trying to influence others understanding how they make decisions is important.

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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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  • Science Explained: Wind Powered Vehicle Traveling Faster Than the Wind

    This is an interesting explanation of a the physics involved with vehicle propulsion. And it is a great video showing the scientific method at work.

    They only touch on it a little bit but the need for creating 4 versions of the small treadmill device to illustrate the principles in action is a great example of how science inquiry and engineering work. There are often many failed attempts before an engineering solution to the issue involved can be properly created...

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  • How to Lead From Any Level In the Organization

    Similar to helping other people grow their careers is the idea of helping other people to solve their problems. Again, this starts with a clear understanding of your sphere of influence. It determines what strategies you can pursue, and building your sphere of influence should be part of your decision making process.

    What it comes down to is proving yourself in this way—and doing so consistently. “It isn’t some secret sauce. Prove yourself to be valuable and you will gain influence. Help people solve their problems. They will be inclined to listen to your ideas. And helping people to solve their problems doesn't mean you are giving them the answer. It may mean you asking empowering questions.

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  • Creating an Integrated Life Where Work Adds to Life

    ... I realize doing this to the extent he did is very difficult. But growing up with it I learned that the idea that you could design the whole life (including everything) to maximize life.  And that it may well be that extra effort at work rather than detracting from the rest of life enhances it. For me the key is to focus on maximizing the whole and within that realizing sometimes there are tradeoff (essentially a zero sum game) but there may well be times when you can design the system of your life to find win win solutions.

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  • Benefits of a Mediterranean Diet May Include Reduced Risk of Cognitive Impairment As We Age

    ...

    I have been taking this into account in my eating. I try to eat much more green leafy vegetable (though more is from my very low levels before). I try to reduce the amount of meat and increase the amount of fish and nuts. I try to eat enough fiber and I eat yogurt. I try to eat more fruits and vegetables in general. I try to reduce the amount of processed foods and sugar. My diet is far from great but it is much better than is was 20 years ago. I have probably been focused on doing better for over 10 years (post from 9 years ago: Healthy Diet, Healthy Living, Healthy Weight).

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  • Decorated House in Nigeria

    Photo of this decorated house in Nigeria by Bill Hunter (see more photos by Bill Hunter).

    Taken during our holiday trip; see more photos from our time in Africa.

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  • Huge Proposed Increases in USA Government Science and Engineering Support

    The Biden administration has proposed greatly increasing USA government spending on science and engineering. They are proposing levels last seen in the 1960s when the USA was most committed to science and engineering spending (as most visibly seen in support for NASA).

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  • New Health Care Insurance Subsidies in the USA

    Under the new law, nobody will have to pay more than 8.5% of their income on health insurance. The government will also pick up 100% of COBRA premiums through September. COBRA is health insurance for people who’ve lost their jobs.

    The Kaiser Family Foundation calculator lets you get a quick idea of what your approximate subsidy benefit. A 55 year old earning $55,000 would be entitled to a subsidy of $4,700 about 50% of their health insurance costs (based on the USA average). For a 50 year old the subsidy would be $2,900 or 38%. For a 60 year old the subsidy would be $6,800 or 59%. For a couple of 35 year olds and 2 children the subsidy would be $12,100 per year or 72%.

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  • Learning from Customers

    Create a management system focused on continual improvement that is engaged in seeking out customer feedback and continually improving the value provided to customers.

    Most organizations do the opposite of this. They make put many barriers in the way of customers speaking to anyone that will listen. They put systems in place to discourage feedback from customers.

    ...

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  • Individual Stock Portfolio Investment Planning

    Early last year when studying my portfolio I decided my two biggest positions (Apple and Google – those ready the blog won’t be surprised due to my 10 stocks for 10 years posts) continued to warrant the large portion of the portfolio they held. I also decided that I would systemically sell say 1% of Apple and 2% of Alphabet a year (the Apple dividend was also paying about 1% – actually it was more then but is much less now).

    That was just a long term plan that helped me think about the long term portfolio management. But that, like all investment decision, was subject to revision. As both continued to soar I decided it made sense to sell more but maintain a similar plan, just maybe selling 2% and 4% a year...

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