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  • Managing the Supplier Relationship, at Ford and Elsewhere

    Ford said they were committed to the Deming philosophy in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Donald Petersen, former CEO of Ford Motor Company, was one of those included in the Deming Library Tapes.


    Nothing has changed from 1990 to today [October 2005] that explains why Ford saying they are going to deal with suppliers differently now should work any better then such statements 15 years ago. Until they acknowledge what problems in their management system have caused them to fail to use sensible management practices that have been well know for decades I see no reason to believe their claims that they will behave differently this time.

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  • Performance Without Appraisal

    The comments on the mini-microsoft blog shows performance appraisal continues to be an emotional topic. People on opposite sides of the debate are very passionate.

    I admit it took me longer to accept Dr. Deming’s thoughts on performance appraisal than other ideas (and that is even with Peter Scholtes being a friend which gave me the opportunity to discuss the idea with him). So I understand it is not an easy concept to accept.

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  • How Toyota Turns Workers Into Problem Solvers

    This idea is simple. Creating an environment where this is actual the way things are, not just the way things are said to be, is difficult. That is why I believe so strongly in Deming’s management philosophy. The organization must be viewed as a whole. Benefits can be gained by adopting some concepts in a piecemeal manner. However, many benefits accrue only when the positive interactions between Toyota Production System (TPS – Lean) concepts occur (as systems thinking would predict).

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  • SPC: History and Understanding

    Setting control limits at 3 standard deviations is a decision based on experience. Shewhart, Deming and others determined it was sensible to take resources to look for a special cause was most effective for results more than 3 standard deviations from the mean – it is not a mathematical conclusion but a empirical conclusion.

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  • Operational Definitions and Data Collection

    Claims are often made about results that only are justified based on unstated assumptions about the real world results that the data are meant to represent.  But those claims are undermined when there is no evidence provided that the assumptions are valid.  Without operational definitions for the data there is a significant risk of making claims about what the data means that are not valid.

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  • Measurement and Data Collection

    I find it useful to ask what will be done with the results of data collection efforts (in order to confirm that the effort is a wise use of resources). If you don’t have an answer for how you will use the data, once you get it, then you probably shouldn’t waste resources collecting it (and I find there is frequently no plan for using the results).

    I have found it helpful to ask: what will you do if the data we collect is 30? What will you do if it is 3? The answer does not need to be some formula, if 30 then x. But rather that the results would be used to help inform a decision process to make improvements (possibly the decision to focus resources in that area). I find, that asking that question often helps reach a better understanding of what data is actually needed, so you then collect better data.

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  • Deming and Six Sigma

    I agree aspects of Six Sigma are bad. I also think some aspects of Six Sigma are good. And I think the same things about TQM.

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  • Six Sigma Pitfalls

    When people say “Six Sigma is great” or “Six Sigma is a waste” often they are talking about different things. But because in both instances “Six Sigma” is used people believe that the meaning must be the same in both cases. It often isn’t. While I find some Six Sigma efforts, books or consultants very useful many others (that also use the words “Six Sigma”) do not offer much of value.

    What exactly is meant by “Six Sigma” varies quite a bit. And execution is critical to what makes one program succeed and another fail.

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  • The Purpose of an Organization

    W. Edwards Deming described the purpose of an organization in New Economics, on page 51, as:

    The aim proposed here for any organization is for everybody to gain – stockholders, employees, suppliers, customers, community, the environment – over the long term.

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  • Science and Engineering Macroeconomic Investment

    The United States has benefited tremendously from the decisions to fund the National Science Foundation (as well as other investments in science) for decades. Other countries have seen the wisdom in those investments and seem to be committing much more to those investments than the US lately. I think it is very wise of them and will serve the world well. But I fear the United States has already allowed itself to lose a great deal of the competitive advantage it built up in the middle of the last century.

    In the last couple decades we have been able to coast on the lead we had. We could have many of the best minds come to our colleges and then keep them here once they graduated with advanced degrees. However, the lead we had is rapidly being eliminated. This does not mean the US will immediately be uncompetitive. But it will mean one of the great advantages we had will be greatly reduced.

    The United States still has competitive advantages that will continue to serve us well in harnessing advanced technology for economic gain. But others have been making strategic decisions to gain some of those advantages for themselves. And the United States will almost certainly continue to see its scientific and engineering leadership in the world erode. And the economic consequences will be dramatic.

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  • Design of Experiments in Advertising (2005)

    It is great to see the application of Designed Experiments increasing. I am reminded of an article by my father, William G. Hunter, from 1975: 101 Ways to Design an Experiment, or Some Ideas About Teaching Design of Experiments. Examples of the topics of the designed experiments his students performed:

    • taste of stewed chicken
    • toys child chose to sleep with
    • quality of ground malt for brewing beer
    • distance football was kicked
    • absorption characteristics of activated carbon used with municipal waste water

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  • W. Edwards Deming’s Seven Deadly Diseases

    Seven Deadly Diseases

    1. Lack of constancy of purpose
    2. Emphasis on short term profits (Overreaction to short term variation is harmful to long term success. With such focus on relatively unimportant short term results focus on constancy of purpose is next to impossible.)
    3. Evaluation of performance, merit rating or annual review (see: Performance Without Appraisal: What to do Instead of Performance Appraisals by Peter Scholtes).
    4. Mobility of top management (too much turnover causes numerous problems)
    5. Managing by use of visible figures, with little of no consideration of figures that are unknown or unknowable.

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  • Jeff Bezos on Lean Thinking (2005)

    I read a book recently about Toyota’s lean production methodology, which is very interesting

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  • Estate Tax Repeal is a Very Bad Idea

    The estate tax is the most capitalist tax that exists. Capitalism, which some seem to think is based on people inheriting assets from their relatives, is not. Capitalism is based on the concept that each person gets to receive rewards for their work.

    Long before Adam Smith, noble rich passed on their wealth to their heirs. It was not Capitalist then and it is not Capitalist now.

    You have to have some taxes to run the government. The income tax is a poor tool, as it is a direct disincentives to positive economic activity. The best tax is one that doesn’t take anything from someone who earned it. And that is exactly what the estate does, tax a portion of the millions someone is given.

    The income tax, however, is the largest source of income and therefore it will not disappear. But if you are going to lower taxes, that is the tax you should lower not one on people being given millions of dollars.

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  • New Toyota CEO’s Views (2005)

    Toyota has grown in the past few years, but [there’s a risk] that a belief that the current status is satisfactory creeps into the minds of employees. That’s what I’m worried about.

    We should never be satisfied with the current status. In each division, function, or region, we still have numerous problems to cope with. We need to identify each one of those tasks or problems and fully recognize them and pursue the causes. This needs to be done by all the people working for Toyota.

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