Posts selected fromManagement Blog - Engineering Blog - Investing Blog and other blogs
- Goofy but Widespread Thinking
I can’t really understand why people seem unwilling to do the simple known things to improve performance. But there does seem to be the attitude that we need to find secret or fantastic new ideas in order to improve.
People seem to think: “I can't just read some idea in a book published 30 years ago and improve. If it were that easy everyone would be doing it.” Well it isn’t quite that easy but it is close.
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- Glacier National Park photos
- Quality, SPC and Your Career
Success is not as easy as we might hope. Just discovering the ideas of Deming or Toyota or Ackoff is not enough. The great ideas don’t, by themselves, convince managers to try a new way of managing. There is a great deal of education needed for most organizations to get to the point where they realize they could improve by applying “old” ideas such as: control charts, lean thinking, spc, not tampering…
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- Should GM be Removed from the DJIA? (2005)
I agree removing GM makes sense, though I see no reason to wait. Whether to replace it with Toyota (market cap: $167 billion), DaimlerChrysler or something else is an interesting question. Of course the whole idea of the Dow Jones Industrial Average pretty much outlived its usefulness decades ago. The S&P 500 has long been far better measure of the stock market...
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- Toyota's Planet Kaizen
It requires flash to view Planet Kaizen. I think it has amazingly bad visual controls (as do many flash applications). I can’t figure out why it would be done in flash – other than some marketing person, or IT person, thought it would be cool. I certainly don’t see how kaizen practices could have produced such an application. It seems to me one of the examples of how far Toyota still has to go.
Of course, as an automobile manufacturer failing to develop web applications well, is better than failing at manufacturing cars well.
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- Process Improvement of the Order Fulfillment Process
Shipping an international order now takes about 35 seconds, down from 3 minutes, and can be done by anyone, whether or not they have SQL and Mail Merge skills. Domestic orders are even faster since they don’t need customs forms. Most of all, it’s all really fun.
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- Poka-Yoke Assembly
Poka-Yoke (mistake-proofing) is one of my favorite ideas. I just love the idea of not only making something that works well but making something that is difficult to use misuse or use in a way that leads to problems, waste and disappointment.
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- Peter Drucker Opinion Essays from the Wall Street Journal
Is Executive Pay Excessive? In 1977, Peter Drucker's answer was, no. As pay did become excessive, Drucker became a prominent voice against the unjust pay of CEO’s.
Economically, [the] few very large executive salaries are quite unimportant. Socially, they do enormous damage. They are highly visible and highly publicized. And they are therefore taken as typical, rather than as the extreme exceptions they are.
In 1977, he was mainly worried about “the public” rising against excessive executive pay when there was no systemic problem. He didn’t seem to foresee the problem of other CEO’s believing they were entitled to such unjust pay and creating the crisis of leadership this caused later in his career. Of course the entitlement culture was not a widely held view at that point.
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- The 70 Percent Solution
Google CEO Eric Schmidt:
We spend 70 percent of our time on core search and ads. We spend 20 percent on adjacent businesses, ones related to the core businesses in some interesting way. Examples of that would be Google News, Google Earth, and Google Local. And then 10 percent of our time should be on things that are truly new. An example there would be the Wi-Fi initiative.
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- Innovate or "Play it Safe: to Avoid Risk
There are many reasons why avoiding risks is smart and should be encouraged. But when avoiding risks stifles innovation the risks to the organization are huge.
Playing it safe isn't always safe. In rapidly changing markets (which are quite common lately) "playing it safe" is often riskier than "taking chances" on new ideas.
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- Data Based Decision Making at Google and Elsewhere (2005)
Google has done a fantastic job of using data to make decisions. In fact so much so, that some think they may go overboard trying to find an algorithm for everything.
I believe you can’t measure everything that is important. I also believe in most organizations the amount of stuff you can’t measure usefully and realistically is quite a bit higher than it is for Google. Having highly intelligent, skilled and experienced people who can derive complex formulas effectively does greatly expand the effective use of measurements.
Still there are limits, and those limits are much lower for most organizations that have neither, thousands of phd level mathematicians, rocket scientists, software engineers etc. nor a anything approaching Google’s percentage of such people.
Still I think we will benefit from the innovation that will continue to take place at Google. The are making great strides in using data to inform their decision making process.
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- Performance of People: Does Performance Appraisal Help?
Why can’t performance be numerically rated and ranked? It can’t be defined operationally, it can’t be measured with any degree of precision, it can’t be separated from other effects, and it is destined to vary over time in any case. Any one of these factors present significant (if not insurmountable) problems itself. Combined the problems create an impossible barrier.
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- Google: Ten Golden Rules (2005)
The suits inside Google don’t fare much better than the outside pros. Several current and former insiders say there’s a caste system, in which business types are second-class citizens to Google’s valued code jockeys. They argue that it could prove to be a big challenge in the future as Google seeks to maintain its growth.
Google really is doing things differently. One way you see it is that some of those used to being the most powerful players complain that they don’t get respect at Google, at Google the engineers rule. Um, maybe they shouldn’t complain too loud, maybe the reason Google is doing better is they focus on the Gemba (where value is added to the customer).
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- Poor Management Harms USA Manufactures (2005)
The global competition in manufacturing is intense. But America is still the largest manufacturer in the world and managers should not be allowed escape responsibility for their failure to manage effectively with claims that manufacturing in the USA cannot compete. The biggest change needed is an improvement in management. Other things would also help greatly, such as improving the health care system.
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- Excessive Executive Pay
The excesses are so great now they will either force companies to:
- take huge risks to justify such pay and then go bankrupt when such risks fail (and some will succeed making it appear, to some, that the pay was deserved rather than just the random chance of taking a large risk and getting lucky).
- make it impossible to compete with companies that don’t allow such excesses and slowly go out of business to those companies that don’t act so irresponsibly
- hope that competitors adopt your bad practice of excessive pay (this does have potential as most people are corrupted by power, even across cultural boundaries). However, my expectation is the competitive forces of capitalism going forward are going to make such a hope unrealistic. People will see the opportunity provided by such poor management and compete with them.
As long as the pay packages were merely large, and didn’t effect the ability of a company to prosper that could continue (slicing up the benefits between the stakeholders is not an exact science). The excesses recently have become so obscene as to become unsustainable.
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