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  • How to Improve at Understanding Variation and Using Data to Improve

    Getting better at using data is a bit tricky, so struggling is fairly common.
    Probably the easiest thing to do is to stop reacting to normal variation (caused by the system) as if it were special. This isn’t super easy but it is the easiest step. And it does make a big difference even if it doesn’t seem very exciting.

    The idea of actually using data properly provides big benefit but it much trickier. Don Wheeler’s book is a great start. Making predictions and evaluating how those predictions turn out is also valuable. And in doing so often (though not always) it will also spur you to collect data. This process of predicting, figuring out what data to use to help do so (and to evaluate the results) and considering the result of the prediction and how well the predictions overall are working can help.

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  • Break Down Barriers Between Departments

    Addressing these secondary, tertiary… effects is usually more challenging. We normally can’t directly tackle the issue. Just telling people to work together doesn’t do much good if the management system drives them to different behavior. Such support for “teamwork” is merely a slogan without the necessary management commitment. We need to change the management system and the behavior of those in leadership positions in the organization.

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  • VW Vanlife in Kenya

    This is a photo (by my father) of my early experience with vanlife. My family took this VW Van in Kenya when I was a kid. We only spent a couple weeks in Kenya before living in Nigeria for a school year.

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  • Applying Toyota Kata to Agile Retrospectives

    Retrospectives are a good method to help improve but if there is no time to think about the issues raised and come up with experiments to improve and review of whether those experiments worked or not and why failure to improve is the expected result.

    Creating a culture where it is expected that any improvement ideas are tested and evaluated is one of the most important changes on the path to a company that will be able to continually improve.

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  • The Psychology of Change is Often the Trickiest Part of Process Improvement

    The psychology of such efforts is usually much trickier than the process improvement. This point is actually one of the reasons creating a continual improvement culture that has respect for people at the core. When you create such a culture the psychology of change piece becomes much much easier which and as you continually improve processes the most obvious process improvements are made. If you don't create the right culture continuing the continual improvement process gets more and more difficult but if you do create the right culture it gets easier.

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  • Promoting Open Science

    We need to take back science from the closed-science journals. Historically journals were useful (before the internet). With the advent of the internet instead of maintaining the mission they started with (to aid the spread of scientific knowledge) the journals sought to maximize their profit and their own pay and jobs at the expense of sharing scientific knowledge with the world.

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  • Looking Back at "Some Notes on Management in a Hospital" by W. Edwards Deming

    The head nurse returned to say that the nurse that was to give the infusion had recorded the infusion as given. It is possible that she recorded it in advance, with the intention to give it, and did not correct the record. Is this the regular procedure, to record intentions? Who would know?      An unsuspecting physician, looking at the record for his patient, would assume that the infusion had been given, and could draw wrong inferences about how the patient had been doing on the drug. In my case, as it turned out, no harm. But how would he know? A nurse, or a physician, has a right to suppose that the medication was delivered as ordered and as recorded.

    What is the purpose of the record? To inform the physician about intentions, or to tell him what happened?

    It is even more difficult than usual to avoid blaming people when you are being forced to suffer. But even in this situation Dr. Deming understood the problems were a natural result of poor processes not of failures by individuals to do their best.

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  • The Worst Aspect of TPP That Gets Nearly No Attention

    Sadly among the worst aspects of the Trans-Pacific Partnership TPP (and also the TTIP) is the promotion of the copyright cartel's agenda along with very bad patent policy. Almost no one with political power is even talking about these huge problems with it.

    I support free trade. I don't support the politically motivated trade agreements that impose the USA political donors' wishes on citizens of the USA and other countries.

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  • 2015 Health Care Price Report – Costs in the USA and Elsewhere

    The damage to the USA economy due to inflated health care costs is huge. A significant portion of the excessive costs are due to policies the government enacts (which only make sense if you believe the cash given to politicians by those seeking to retain the excessive costs structure in the USA the last few decades buy the votes of the political parties and the individual politicians). 

    In 2015, Humira (a drug from Abbvie to treat rheumatoid arthritis that is either the highest grossing drug in the world, or close to it) costs $2,669 on average in the USA; $822 in Switzerland; $1,362 in the United Kingdom. This is the cost of a 28 day supply.


    The report also includes the cost of medical procedures. For both the drugs and the procedures they include not only average but measures to show how variable the pricing is. As you would expect (if you pay attention to the massive pricing variation in the USA system) the variation in the cost of medical procedures is wide. For an appendectomy in the USA the 25th percentile of cost was $9,322 and for the 95th was $33,250; the average USA cost was $15,930. The average cost in Switzerland was $6,040 and in the United Kingdom was $8,009.

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  • Addressing Systemic Policing Issues in the USA

    I have long been concerned about problems with our system of law enforcement in the USA. In recent years one good thing is that the problem is getting much more attention (the increasing militarization of police department however is a very bad trend that has gotten much worse over the last 10 years).

    I strongly believe the former police chief of Madison, Wisconsin has very good ideas on what should be done. His blog has many useful ideas and he discusses Deming's ideas often. He also wrote a guest post for the W. Edwards Deming Institute blog: Quality Beginnings: Deming and Madison, Wisconsin.

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  • US Fish and Wildlife Service Plans to Use Drones to Drop Vaccine Treats to Save Ferrets

    To date, SPV has been applied by hand with people walking pre-defined transects and uniformly dropping single SPV baits every 9-10 meters to achieve a deposition rate of 50 SPV doses per acre. Depending on vegetation and terrain, a single person walking can treat 3-6 acres per hour. All terrain vehicles (ATVs) have been considered but have various problems.

    If the equipment and expertise can be developed as proposed here, a single UAS operator could treat more than 60 acres per hour.

    If the equipment can be developed to deposit 3 SPV doses simultaneously every second, as they envision is possible, some 200 acres per hour could be treated by a single operator.

    continue reading: US Fish and Wildlife Service Plans to Use Drones to Drop Vaccine Treats to Save Ferrets

  • My First Trip To Japan by Peter Scholtes

    At the Aisin Seiki Company:

    Throughout the plant were the charts and graphs we had come to expect in companies pursuing quality. Each work station had formed it storage for tools, warning systems telling when drills should be changed and systems to assure the reorder of parts when the supply was low. Their kanban system applied not only to the component on which they were working, but to the drills, etc. which they used in their work.

    I recommend reading Peter’s full report which includes thoughts on visits to: Toyota, Yokogawa Hewlett-Packard, Takeanaka Komuten, Kansai Electric Company and more.

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  • Vanlife in the USA

    The combination of where I want to travel (National Parks, National Forest and nature largely) and the cost effectiveness for van living works out very well. You can often park for free in US National Forest and BLM land. Also the cost of campgrounds is much less than any form of lodges, motels or hotels; so even in the instances you pay for lodging the costs are greatly reduced...

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  • Export anything to a friendly country except American management

    Part of the reason improvement has been so slow is that while many people seem to like sharing such quotes with their friends and colleagues very few people dig into the context of his quotes in order to learn how to actually improve. Humor is useful is piquing people’s interest. Sadly even if thousands of people appreciate and share such a quote, very few actually think about what they can do in their organization to improve the situation. Some people do, and that is wonderful.

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  • Autonomous Delivery Robots Launched in Europe and USA

    Robots developed by Starship Technologies are meant for delivering packages, groceries and food to consumers in a 2-3 mile radius. The robots can drive autonomously while being monitored by human operators in control centers. Introduced to European and American cities since the end of last year, the robots have already driven close to 5,000 miles and met over 400,000 people without a single accident.

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