Tag Archives: john hunter

Management Improvement Carnival #161

It’s been a long time! Although I haven’t served in this role since the spring of 2009, I am pleased once again to host ASQ Influential Voices blogger John Hunter’s Management Improvement Carnival, featuring some interesting or noteworthy articles that have been posted over the past couple weeks. Be sure to check out previous installations of the Carnival to get a broad sample of the most recent blog posts that are relevant to managers who are interested in quality, innovation and process improvement.

My top recommendation is Lotto Lai’s review of a recent symposium in Hong Kong, entitled “One Year After the Fukushima Nuclear Accident – the Way Forward with Safety and Risk Engineering.” (3/10/2012) This is a really fascinating and comprehensive look at the Fukushima disaster from the quality management perspective. I particularly like one of his slides about 60% of the way through the presentation that presents a 2×2 grid detailing probabilistic and deterministic approaches to the design that were intended to enhance plant safety. I really like this grid and will be thinking about ways to apply them to problems that I encounter in my job and my consulting (fortunately, none of which involve managing nuclear power plants).

On a lighter note, I also enjoyed “Coffee Shop Buzz is Good for Your Creativity” from Lifehacker. (3/6/2012) Have you ever thought that maybe the social pressure around you is what helps you get things done at the coffee shop? Hmmmm.

Oh, and we can’t forget St. Patrick’s Day! In preparation for the big weekend, Carly Barry at Minitab blogged about “The Odds of Finding a Four Leaf Clover” (3/16/2012). If you’ve ever struggled with odds ratios to compare the likelihood of two events, this article might give you the example to clear it up for good.

My newest “find” in the realm of quality and management improvement blogs is David Kanigan’s “Lead.Learn.Live” at davidkanigan.com. I so love the interconnected nature of blogs… a couple weeks ago, he “liked” something on my blog, and I decided to go check out his blog. And I really like his too! David intersperses original business-oriented posts with cited snippets of art and inspiration, and posts at least on a daily basis. Here are some of the most recent:

He calls attention to one of David Allen’s posts in “Gnawing Sense of Anxiety about Un-Captured Work” (3/10/2012) reiterates some of the themes I have been reading about in Baumeister’s excellent 2011 book on willpower. Apparently, our unconscious is totally restless when we have tasks on our to-do lists for which no plan exists to address. Once we set up a plan (e.g. “I’m going to schedule Saturday morning to download and look at that new data!”) our unconscious gets real happy, lets go of its silent panic, and we’re less overwhelmed and less distracted. Pretty cool!

In “The Process of Pivoting” (3/10/2012) David encourages us to move to a better feeling if we’re brought down by a problem, or a challenge, or some coworker’s crappy attitude at work. He doesn’t actually say any of those things, but you should be able to easily relate to the general scenario.

How can magical thinking be a solid tool for people who want to improve quality and performance – especially while managing teams? Find out in The Poison of Performance Appraisals (3/10/2012)… Deming would agree.

(And although this isn’t technically a blog, they do use a blogging infrastructure behind the scenes, so…) Hot off the presses we have “A Flash of Green Enhances Creativity” (3/20/2012)… did you know that temporary exposure to the color green can enhance inventiveness? Researchers reported in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin that experiments were conducted where people were asked to solve problems surrounded by either green or red borders. It didn’t matter whether you were male, female, short, tall, or Australian… everyone was a better problem solver “in the green”. This also brings a new meaning to “Green Flash” 🙂

Management Improvement Carnival #59

I am pleased once again to host John Hunter’s Management Improvement Carnival, featuring some interesting or noteworthy articles that have been posted over the past couple weeks. Be sure to check out previous installations of the Carnival to get a broad sample of the most recent blog posts that are relevant to managers who are interested in quality, innovation and process improvement.

  • Small is the new big. Sustainable is the new growth. Trust is the new competitive advantage. All of the rules of business have changed, and the seismic shift is both electrifying and frightening. But there are opportunities to be embraced, and many of them are summed up in this HBS blog article entitled Why Small Companies Will Win in This Economy
  • There is a great post from March 8 by June Holley, talking about self-organizing to achieve systems-level innovation. She notes that because theory is lacking, this process might be protracted, but to get to the point of understanding theory we need some more “real life” examples and case studies of how we self-organize in our organizations well – and not so well.
  • Is environmentally friendly insulation higher or lower quality? Reflections on the Building Material Emissions Study discuss its outcomes. How we deal with the interplay of quality and social responsibility will become an even greater issue over the next several years as our ability to grow unbounded is checked against the availability of resources – check out this study to see what related studies might be on the horizon.
  • Sustainability 2.0 Doesn’t Add Up by Samuel Mann is an interesting read, reflecting on the notions of sustainability, social responsibility, psychology, and organizations. I’ve included it here for its broad coverage of some interesting topics and vignettes.
  • And did you know that neuroscience may provide some insights into how to stage your process improvement efforts and your initiatives that focus on innovation?
  • And don’t forget to try out Gmail Autopilot, the newly released utility that will help you autorespond in very meaningful ways to your mundane emails and even your money laundering spam from foreign countries. It’s a technology advancement so advanced it’s unbelievable!

2008 Management Improvement Carnival: Part 4 of 4

This is the fourth and final installment of my collaboration with John Hunter and friends on the Year-End Management Improvement Carnival, where we review the best management improvement blogs and share which posts we found to be the most insightful or helpful. Today I have the privilege of bringing you a few gems from the iSixSigma blogosphere.

PART 4 of 4 – The iSixSigma blogs are written by a cast of columnists who share their experiences with the practice of quality improvement. The favorites I’ve picked out here are only the tip of the iceberg… there are many more on the site.

Innovation and Six Sigma (5/9/2008) – This article aims to answer the question “Does Six Sigma kill innovation?” In addition to being a thought-provoking article, the collection of comments is worth reading as well. I particularly liked this perspective: “I’m reminded of a story I was once told about an author who decided to write an entire novel without using the letter E. You’d think this would be incredibly limiting, but in fact the author ended up learning many, many new words and taking his writing in entirely new directions. The structure forced him to break old habits and think in new ways.”

The iPod Did Not Come From a Focus Group (3/3/2008) – Development of the iPod is an example of customer and market-driven innovation. The author of this article notes that “your company probably knows more about what is possible than most of your customers; but the lesson I take away from the Apple example is this: some of our customers know a lot more than we do, and we ignore them at our peril.” There’s also a pointer to an excellent 2002 article in the Harvard Business Review.

Six Sigma: The Laissez-Faire of Politics (1/28/2008) – In this article, the author explores how to solve a real public policy issue using Six Sigma: reducing the consumption of plastic bags (like the ones you get at the grocery store) on the national level. “If there is one area in society that definitely needs an injection of Six Sigma, it’s politics. Just like the working world of business, people want a silver bullet quick fix that sounds good and will make people feel good. Politicians often open their mouths without performing due diligence and as a result only partially address an issue.”

What You Measure is What You Get (12/22/2008) – This post reflected on the role and meaning of measurement (one of my favorite issues). “Perhaps what you measure is what you get. More likely, what you measure is all you’ll get. What you don’t (or can’t) measure is lost” – H. Thomas Johnson

Six Sigma Project Failure (7/28/2008) – What’s required for a Six Sigma project to fail? Conflicting definitions are explored in these survey results. (This is somewhat related to Eight Reasons Why Projects Fail (4/24/2008), another good post.)

Return to Part 1 of 4 –>

Return to John Hunter’s Management Improvement Carnival: 2008 Year in Review –>

2008 Management Improvement Carnival: Part 3 of 4

This is the third installment of my collaboration with John Hunter and friends on the Year-End Management Improvement Carnival, where we review the best management improvement blogs and share which posts we found to be the most insightful or helpful.

SpicesPART 3 of 4 – Clarke Ching’s stream-of-consciousness blog covers random musings, cartoons, links to useful articles, recipes, mathematical puzzles and games, and thoughts about quality-related techniques including Theory of Constraints and software development.

Testers – the worst thing that happened to software development? (5/30/2008) – This story describes a first-person view of how software quality can be achieved more easily – by studying the successful approaches used by good maintenance teams. “There’s a huge amount that development managers (i.e. those that work on bigger projects) could learn from the way good maintenance teams work. The first would be to break down their work into smaller chunks.” (Again, this reminds me of “stackless thinking”which really appeals to me.)

Critical Chain Scheduling (8/22/2008)– Clarke wrote an article, published over at stickyminds.com, covering how to use the critical chain method to improve scheduling in agile development environments. “Critical Chain, as I’ve described, is a great way of rebuilding trust between managers and their staff. In fact, it is THE best way I’ve found. It’s also sorely needed, judging by some of the comments.”

Lord Kelvin (9/13/2008)Why measure things? On a trip to Scotland, Clarke reflected on this question as he pondered the intro to Douglas Hubbard’s book, How to Measure Anything: “When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely in your thoughts advanced to the state of science.”

Go to Part 4 of 4 –>

2008 Management Improvement Carnival: Part 2 of 4

This is the next installment of my collaboration with John Hunter and friends on the Year-End Management Improvement Carnival, where we review the best management improvement blogs and share which posts we found to be the most insightful or helpful.

noopPART 2 of 4 – Europe’s ”#1 Blog for Software Development Managers” has posted an excellent review of the most popular 2008 articles from their site, based on the site traffic throughout 2008. Here are my personal favorites.

A Theory of Everything for Software Development (8/7/2008) – Physicists pursue the grand unified theory to explain space, time and everything in between… while noop.nl attempts to reconcile the myriad of approaches to software development by reminding us of context-dependent approaches. Here’s a sample: “Unix and Windows are both proper solutions, though each in its own limited cultural context. And they cannot both be the best solution at the same time and place. (And might I suggest that, in the case of operating systems, a Theory of Everything has already been found with the invention of virtual machines? Just a wild thought.)”

Simple vs. Complicated vs. Complex vs. Chaotic (8/20/2008) – You can have predictable, complex, and chaotic systems that are simple – or, you can have predictable, complex and chaotic systems that are complicated. This is the best description (and collection of online references) I’ve seen to explaining the differences between these concepts. “My computer is complicated. My software project is complex. My house is complicated. My household is complex. My blog is complicated. My thoughts are complex. Your dinner is complicated. Your dog is complex.”

Thank You, Stupid Americans (4/23/2008) – This is an interesting blend of software development insights and politics! Although I don’t personally equate simplicity with stupidity, and I realize there are plenty of smart Americans too, I found this to be a lighthearted and stimulating read.

How to Handle Many Simultaneous Projects (9/30/2008) is also an excellent commentary. I don’t know any manager who doesn’t have this issue – whether they are a quality manager, a technology manager, a construction manager, or a manager of software development.

Go to Part 3 of 4 –>

2008 Management Improvement Carnival: The Year in Review

I’m privileged to be partnering with John Hunter and friends to produce the Year-End Management Improvement Carnival. Our goal is to review the best management improvement blogs out there, and find out what gems were posted during 2008 – then take you on a guided tour of the past year’s most intriguing management insights.

PART 1 of 4 – The first three favorites on my list come from David Anderson’s http://www.agilemanagement.net, a blog that focuses on effective and productive implementation of agile methods in software development and management.

Providing Value with Lean (3/31/2008) – One of the most important considerations while implementing a quality program or process improvement initiative is that you focus on the right aspects of the problem at the right times. This is much easier said than done, especially since the problem solving environment is socio-technical – and as a result, complex. But David makes the excellent point that “doing lean” means more than just eliminating waste. You have to take a systems perspective, and first consider how value is to be added, then analyze the process for flow, and then work on eliminating waste. Sometimes, to get a better process, you have to add waste before the improvements can be realized in a sustainable fashion.

Recipe for Success (9/5/2008) – David says: “This is the mechanism I use to achieve sustainable pace and to implement a pull system which provides a nice mechanism for simple prioritization. Prioritizing becomes easier when you have demand balanced against throughput of work items.” In addition to the two variants on the recipe he presents, another reason I like this post is that it reminds me of how the concept of “stackless” programming languages can inform efficient workflow.

Personal Hedgehog (11/2/2008) – What are you uniquely good at? What are you passionate about? What motivates you economically? The most productive people are in roles that fit them well, and the Personal Hedgehog concept can help you find your niche. (Might also be good for managers who want to help their team members find a good fit.)

(I’m also intrigued by David’s concept of an unconference.)

Go to Part 2 of 4 –>