Newsletter – October, 2016

On My Mind
A new improvement or innovation idea from an employee is a precious thing, but sometimes it “doesn’t fit” with the organization’s strategy or culture. There is a new idea dissonance in this situation. If you want more ideas from employees, then don’t summarily dismiss and discard these kinds of ideas. A better approach is to either (1) Place the idea in a Parking Lot (database) that is periodically reviewed or (2) Launch a Discovery Team to further explore the idea. Sometimes a “misfit idea” is necessary for a radical breakthrough in performance or an organization’s survival and so you must be careful not to encourage only “in the box” thinking. In other words, don’t be afraid of new idea dissonance.

Interesting Stories
The Eighth Annual Advanced Strategic Improvement Practices Conference was held October 6, 2016 at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska, MN. There were twelve presentations each related to one of four themes: Strategy, Analytics, Innovation, and Lean Six Sigma. Here was the line-up of presenters: Linda Nelson and Rebecca Budimlija from the MN Department of Human Services presented on CI Portfolio Planning; Jeff Swanson of the MN Department of Human Services presented on Rapid Response Deliverable; Dr. William C. Rupp formerly of the Mayo Clinic presented on Leading Strategic Improvement; Scott Martens from the Carlson School of Management presented on Innovation Roadmaps; Kelly Buckentine from The Opus Group presented on The Culture of Innovation at The Opus Group; Michael Venker from the Executive Solutions Center presented on Hardwiring Business Process Management in the Organization; Karen Kingsland from the Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries presented on Lean Innovation at the Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries; Dale Godbout from Hormel Foods presented on Lean at Hormel Foods; David Badger from Loram Maintenance of Way presented on The Lean Six Sigma Journey at Loram; Sheila Reger from the University of Minnesota Office of Human Resources presented on Kaizen Blitzing in HR; Charles A. Liedtke, Ph.D. from Strategic Improvement Systems, LLC presented on Quality, Analytics, and Big Data; and Eric Gamble from IBM presented on The Cognitive Era & Analytics.

Company News
The two final 2016 Strategic Improvement Systems, LLC public events have been scheduled. The Continuous Improvement Deployment Planning workshop will be held November 30, 2016 at the Crowne Plaza in Plymouth, MN. The workshop on How to Lead a Successful Kaizen Event will be held December 6, 2016 also at the Crowne Plaza in Plymouth, MN. You can email Charles at charles@sisliedtke.com to register or if you have any questions.

Intriguing Reads
It has been eight months since my research report on Quality, Analytics, & Big Data was published and the response has been almost overwhelming and gratifying. The analytics movement is here to stay and sometimes beautiful things happen when you integrate as was the case when I integrated Quality, Analytics, and Big Data. If you haven’t read the report yet, then please give it a try. It is available for free on the RESEARCH page of this website.

Newsletter – September, 2016

On My Mind
One mechanism for integrating Analytics and Strategy activities is to conduct an Analytics JAM Session early in the strategic planning process. This can be an effective action-packed, fun-filled event where insights are created and breakthrough ideation occurs. Here are some keys to success: (1) Invite an extremely diverse group of up to 30 people (use the max-mix strategy); (2) Have everyone thoroughly prepare for the event; (3) Have everyone bring data; (4) Have a wide variety of multi-media capabilities to accommodate all the different types of data such as standard databases, videos, blogs, pictures, and audio; (5) Have several dynamic facilitators; (6) Allow as many as 50 five-minute presentations; (7) Thoroughly document the discussions; and (8) Save at least one hour at the end of the day for a summary discussion. The insights and ideas from the session are then used throughout the strategic planning process. You can learn more about Analytics and Strategy at the Advanced Strategic Improvement Practices Conference on October 6, 2016. The brochure is available on the ANNUAL CONFERENCE page of this website.

Interesting Stories
What should you do if you break your baseball bat during a baseball game because you are frustrated with your performance? If you are Ichiro Suzuki, then you write a letter of apology to the person who made the bat by hand. Such is the respect Ichiro has for the game and his bats. This actually happened in 1999 when Ichiro was playing professional baseball in Japan. He recently became only the fourth non-U.S. born Major League Baseball player to accumulate 3,000 career hits. Ichiro had an outstanding career in Japan before coming to the U.S. to play. He is known for his hard work ethic, intense focus, discipline, consistency, and reverence for the game. He will surely be voted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame as soon as he is eligible. If you want to see someone who has mastered their craft, then catch a Florida Marlins game before the end of the season.

Company News
The Eighth Annual Advanced Strategic Improvement Practices Conference will be held October 6, 2016 at the beautiful Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska, MN. The purpose of the conference is to assemble experts from various types of organizations in a beautiful setting to learn with each other how to improve organizations from a strategic perspective. There will be twelve presentations each related to one of four themes: Strategy, Analytics, Innovation, and Lean Six Sigma. The brochure is available on this website. There will be two public seminars offered yet this year: Multivariate Analysis for Understanding the Voice of the Customer and How to Lead a Successful Kaizen Event. Brochures will be available late September.

Intriguing Reads
Chess is considered one of the best games for developing a person’s strategic thinking capabilities. The 42nd World Chess Olympiad is in progress in Baku, Azerbaijan. Teams from 175 countries are competing for the Gold Medal. The winner will be determined at the end of an eleven round Swiss System tournament. India is currently in the lead with the United States in second. They battle head-to-head in Round 7. One of the more interesting matches occurred early in the tournament where Ukraine defeated Russia. You can follow the tournament online by searching for “Baku Chess Olympiad.”

Newsletter – August, 2016

On My Mind
Analytics and big data techniques can help an organization identify and eliminate waste. For example, using sensors to monitor equipment efficiency; developing algorithms to predict equipment failures; and developing models to optimize processes, work flows, and networks. Alternatively, Lean techniques can help reduce waste associated with analytics and big data initiatives. Here are just a few examples of waste associated with information (data): collecting unnecessary information; entering information incorrectly; entering information into multiple systems; sending unnecessary messages; sending reports to people who don’t need them; making coding errors; writing inefficient code; storing information in hard-to-find locations; storing information in multiple systems; and waiting for the information system to respond due to system clutter. Lean projects can be launched to identify and eliminate information-related waste. Tools such as the value stream map and spaghetti diagram can be used to understand the current situation with respect to information flows. An organization can also apply inventory control practices to bits and bytes where it made sense. You can learn more about this topic by reading the research report on Quality, Analytics, and Big Data which is available on the RESEARCH page of this website. Best wishes using Lean to make your analytics and big data initiatives more efficient and effective.

Interesting Stories
“Don’t blink or you’ll miss him!” Usain Bolt—from Jamaica—will soon be competing in the 100 and 200 meter dashes in the Olympics held in Brazil. He is the current world record holder in both events and could become the first person to win both events at three consecutive Olympics. If you are interested in watching one of the greatest athletes in the world, then watch Ashton Eaton of the U.S.A. compete in the decathlon (ten track and field events) at the Olympics. He is the current world record holder and could very well break his own record.

Company News
The Eighth Annual Advanced Strategic Improvement Practices Conference will be held October 6, 2016 at the beautiful Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska, MN. The purpose of the conference is to assemble experts from various types of organizations in a beautiful setting to learn with each other how to improve organizations from a strategic perspective. There will be twelve presentations each related to one of four themes: Strategy, Analytics, Innovation, and Lean Six Sigma. The brochure is available on this website.

Intriguing Reads
Who are some of the leading companies applying big data analytics and what have been the results? A new book by Bernard Marr titled, “Big Data in Practice: How 45 Successful Companies Used Big Data Analytics to Deliver Extraordinary Results” helps answer this question. The author uses a common format to compare the big data analytics journeys of such companies as Google, Palantir, Walmart, IBM, Airbnb, Apple, and many others. This book provides a timely glimpse into the approaches, techniques, challenges, and results of those companies who are on the leading-edge of big data analytics.

Newsletter – July, 2016

On My Mind
A Kaizen Blitz is typically a small-scoped project activity for incrementally improving a value stream, process, or work area. What if you need breakthrough improvement—an innovation—instead of incremental improvement? Then you should consider conducting a Kaikaku Blitz. The word Kaikaku is associated with making fundamental and radical changes. Here are some keys to success when conducting a Kaikaku Blitz: (1) Start with a clearly articulated innovation challenge, (2) Be guided by an experienced innovation leader, (3) Have people with diverse perspectives on the team, (4) Select a room with plenty of wall space, (5) Prepare thoroughly, (6) Try multiple creativity techniques (e.g., the DFSS toolbox), (7) Conduct several rapid tests of change (e.g., 3D printing, simulations, mock-ups, ad hoc focus groups, etc.), and (8) Use analytics before, during, and after the event. Best wishes innovating with your Kaikaku Blitz.

Interesting Stories
No credit history? No problem—if you are a customer of InVenture. According to the Delta Sky magazine, the company InVenture, which has made more than 250,000 loans in Africa and Southeast Asia, has developed leading-edge loan disbursement capabilities according to its CEO Shivani Siroya: “We’ve developed an Android app that allows us, within a short period, to be able to understand someone’s identity and verify that identity. From the [mobile] device, we pull in about 10,000 different data points on the individual in about 20 seconds. We score them and then we disburse loans directly to them, anywhere from $10 all the way up to $1,000, right into their digital wallets. The entire process takes us under one minute.” We will continue to hear stories like this as companies push the envelope on information technology and analytics.

Company News
The Eighth Annual Advanced Strategic Improvement Practices Conference will be held October 6, 2016 at the beautiful Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen, MN. There will be twelve presentations within four themes: Strategy, Analytics, Innovation, and Lean Six Sigma. The full brochure will be available on this website around mid-July.

Intriguing Reads
Does it ever feel like your business communications are getting lost in all the noise? How can we be more effective at getting our messages across? The 2015 book titled, “Marketing Above the Noise: Achieve Strategic Advantage with Marketing That Matters” by Linda Popky can help us improve our communications. The author’s Dynamic Market Leverage Model provides a useful framework for structuring marketing activities. The model has eight components: Strategy, Products, Customers, Brand, Communication, Operations, Sales Channels, and Market Analysis. If you want to be more effective at marketing above the noise, then give this book a try.

Newsletter – June, 2016

On My Mind
An Analytics Team (A Team) is often tasked with developing an organization’s analytics and big data capabilities, but “Where should team members start?” Here are three startup activities they might consider: 1) Create an analytics vision for the organization so the future state is clear; 2) Conduct an analytics assessment in the form of a SWOT analysis to identify the organization’s analytics strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats; and 3) Develop an analytics roadmap for the organization to structure and guide analytics activities. Getting off to a fast start is important because strong analytics and big data capabilities can possibly lead to a new source of competitive advantage and/or a new area of organizational competence. You can learn more about developing analytics and big data capabilities by reading my research report on Quality, Analytics, and Big Data. It is available on the RESEARCH Page of this website. Best wishes on your analytics and big data journey.

Interesting Stories
Sometimes going old school can defeat a new technology! The use of drones is becoming more popular — in some cases more dangerous around airports and more annoying around private weddings. Try doing a Google search for “eagle attacks drone Netherlands” and you will learn how the Dutch National Police Corps has launched a new initiative in partnership with a company named Guard from Above to train eagles to capture small drones. Who knows, it just might save some lives.

Company News
The ten day public Strategic Improvement Black Belt course starts July 11, 2016. Please contact me at charles@sisliedtke.com if you would like to receive a brochure. The Eighth Annual Advanced Strategic Improvement Practices Conference will be held in late September or early October. The schedule and brochure will be available soon.

Intriguing Reads
Here are six words that summarize where many world class organizations are allocating resources and efforts: platforms, IoT (internet of things), digital, mobile, cloud, and social (media). There is a new book by S. C. Moatti that nicely describes the mobile component of this new phenomenon. It is titled, Mobilized: An Insider’s Guide to the Business and Future of Connected Technology. I especially liked the author’s insights on how to design an effective mobile product from learning, meaning, and beauty perspectives.

Newsletter – May, 2016

On My Mind
Wisdom, humor, and “uncommon” common sense filled the open air of the packed Century Link Center in Omaha, Nebraska on April 30, 2016 at the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting. Warren Buffet, the 85 year old Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, and Charlie Munger, the 92 year old Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, fielded questions for five hours on a diverse set of topics including derivatives, railroads, float, catastrophic events, intrinsic value, negative interest rates, executive compensation, and numerous others. Their views often run contrary to convention and yet Berkshire Hathaway continues to generate outstanding results. The media sometimes refers to Buffet as an investor, but it is important to remember that he is the CEO of a company with 2015 total revenues of $210+ billion. The highly decentralized company is directed by a staff of 25 at the Corporate Headquarters in Omaha. I’ve been told by many people that “seeing Warren Buffet in person” is on their bucket list. If you can’t make next year’s annual meeting on May 6, 2017, then check out Warren Buffet and/or Charlie Munger on YouTube. Also, I highly recommend reading the 2015 Annual Report which is available at www.berkshirehathaway.com. Happy reading!

Interesting Stories
Warren Buffet has been getting questions regarding current health challenges including obesity and diabetes and the implications for Berkshire Hathaway since it owns such a large stake in The Coca-Cola Company. Buffet remarked at the shareholders meeting, “If you count calories, then I am ¼ Coca-Cola” because of his consumption of Coke products. He went on to add that drinking Coca-Cola products makes him happy and that is good for his health. Buffet also said something like “people are free to choose what they consume.” I could tell that not everyone was happy with his response, but it seemed honest.

Company News
The ten day public Strategic Improvement Black Belt course will start in July of 2016 and the nine day public Strategic Improvement Master Black Belt course will start in October of 2016. The brochure for both courses will be available by May 23. The Eighth Annual Advanced Strategic Improvement Practices Conference will be held in late September or early October.

Intriguing Reads
Many successful corporations today have a platform-type business model – Google, Amazon, Facebook, Airbnb, Uber, and LinkedIn to name a few. These organizations use networks and information to provide value-added goods and services to customers. If you want to learn more about strategy and platforms, then read the new book titled, Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets are Transforming the Economy and How to Make them Work for You by Parker, Van Alstyne, and Choudary. I especially liked Chapter 9 on Metrics.

Newsletter – April, 2016

On My Mind
Speed is sometimes essential when executing a task such as filling a critical open position, bringing a new product/service to market, or conducting a Lean Six Sigma project. How can we quickly get from Point A to Point B? Several factors can help make a difference: (1) Make sure there is at least one senior executive who cares about the task, (2) Recruit team members with speed in mind, (3) Develop a plan, (4) Keep the team laser-focused on the task, (5) Use data to measure progress, (6) Make sure the team has access to resources and experts, (7) Identify and solve problems that stand in your way, and (8) Enlist a couple of senior executives to conduct periodic progress reviews. We should always be aware that a blind focus on speed can adversely affect safety and quality. Here is the key question: “How can we move quickly while achieving superior quality and safety outcomes?” Although this balancing act is task-specific, the conversation should occur throughout the entire A to B journey. Best wishes the next time you feel the need to speed.

Interesting Stories
Two of the most highly-regarded tabletop games of strategy are Go and Chess. There has been some exciting news related to both games. AlphaGo, the computer program owned by Google DeepMind, recently defeated Lee Sedol four games to one. Sedol is the world Go champion from South Korea. The victory by AlphaGo is said to represent a breakthrough in artificial intelligence. On the chess side, Hou Yifan of China reclaimed the Women’s World Chess Champion title by defeating Mariya Muzychuk of Ukraine. Sergey Karjakin—the Russian chess grand master who was born in Ukraine—came out on top of the field of eight elite grand masters for the chance to challenge Magnus Carlsen of Norway for the Men’s World Chess Championship in New York in November. Learn more about elite grand master chess at www.fide.com.

Company News
The public seminar on “Quality, Analytics, and Big Data” will be held April 28, 2016 at the Crowne Plaza in Plymouth, MN. A brochure is available on this website on the PUBLIC SEMINARS page. The research report of the same title and other research items are available on the RESEARCH page of this website.

Intriguing Reads
Lou Schultz—the quality improvement consultant extraordinaire—recently had his book “Basic Business” published. It is aimed at leaders of small businesses, but leaders at all levels of an organization can benefit from the lessons contained in the book. The chapters are arranged around a five-component model: Leadership, Strategy, Process, Marketing, and Culture. If you are interested in content that has enduring substance instead of content that is momentarily trending, then give this book a try.

Newsletter – March, 2016

 

On My Mind
Komatsu is a global leader in the manufacture of heavy construction and mining equipment along with Caterpillar. I’ve studied Komatsu for over two decades because of the company’s continuous stream of innovative ideas – what follows are three. Corporate Value – Komatsu has a company-wide initiative to improve corporate value defined as “the total sum of trust given to us by society and all stakeholders.” The stakeholders include distributors, suppliers, employees, stockholders, customers, institutional investors and analysts, and the mass media. DANTOTSU – Komatsu strives to create DANTOTSU products, services, solutions, and management. DANTOTSU means “unique and unrivaled” with special emphases on the environment, safety, and information and communication technologies. KOMTRAX – Komatsu started to develop big data capabilities in the late 1990s with its KOMTRAX telematics system. The system helps Komatsu customers achieve their goals related to productivity and safety through remote monitoring, reporting, and focused interventions. There were more than 350,000 machines working with KOMTRAX as of August of 2014. Komatsu has also developed KOMTRAX Plus and KOMTRAX Parts. You can learn more about Komatsu at www.komatsu.com. In particular, follow this path on the company website: Investor Relations >>> Management Policy >>> Mid-range Management Plan. You can learn more about “Quality, Analytics, and Big Data” by visiting the RESEARCH page on the Strategic Improvement Systems website: www.strategicimprovementsystems.com.

Interesting Stories
Close your eyes and imagine a society living in space . . . that is actually happening now at the International Space Station (ISS). NASA astronaut Scott Kelly recently returned to earth after spending nearly a year aboard the ISS. Scott Kelly has a twin brother named Mark Kelly. One of the more interesting aspects of Scott Kelly’s recent space mission was the parallel twin study that was occurring involving Scott and Mark. NASA was especially interested in the effects on the human body (vision, bones, muscles, etc.) of spending an extended period of time in space. You can learn more about the study and NASA at www.nasa.gov. On another topic, Mariya Muzychuk of Ukraine is currently defending her Women’s World Chess Champion title against Hou Yifan of China. On the men’s side, eight elite grand masters compete in Moscow starting March 10 for the opportunity to challenge Magnus Carlsen of Norway for the Men’s World Chess Champion title. Learn more about elite grandmaster chess at www.fide.com.

Company News
The public seminar on “Quality, Analytics, and Big Data” will be held April 28, 2016 at the Crowne Plaza in Plymouth, MN. A brochure is available on this website on the PUBLIC SEMINARS page. The eight-day public “Continuous Improvement Green Belt” course will start in April of 2016. Details are being finalized and will be announced by March 9.

Intriguing Reads
What happens when you combine lean with data analysis and entrepreneurialism? Lean analytics! An excellent discussion of this integrative topic can be found in the book “Lean Analytics: Use Data to Build a Better Startup Faster” by Croll and Yoskovitz. I especially enjoyed Chapter 5 on Analytics Frameworks.

Newsletter – February, 2016

On My Mind
I’m happy to announce that my research report on “Quality, Analytics, and Big Data” is now available on this website on the RESEARCH page. Here is a summary of the report: “The integration of quality, analytics, and big data guided by the strategic direction of the organization can potentially result in new sources of customer value and a new source of competitive advantage. This research report describes some of the advances related to quality, analytics, and big data and explores the benefits of integrating them in practice. Analytics and big data techniques can help improve product and service quality by generating new customer insights and enhancing decision making. Also, it is argued that analytics and big data initiatives can be improved if quality principles are applied. It is explained that analytics is not just about numbers and big data doesn’t necessarily mean we need millions of data points. A new emergent definition of big data is introduced plus ten ideas for better integrated quality, analytics, and big data practices.” Feel free to pass along the report to others you think might be interested. Best wishes on your analytics journey.

Interesting Stories
World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen recently won the Tata Steel Chess 2016 Tournament out of a field of fourteen grandmasters. Chess is recognized as one of the leading games of strategy. Eight grandmasters will compete in Moscow in March to determine who will challenge Carlsen in November for the World Championship. If you want to enhance your strategic thinking skills, then study chess and follow the elite grandmaster chess tournaments.

Company News
The 2016 schedule for public seminars and courses sponsored by SIS will be finalized soon – here is a sneak peek at the offerings: Yellow Belt for Continuous Improvement Champions (will be held February 22, 2016); Japanese-Style Hoshin Kanri; Innovation Tools for Change Agents; Statistical Methods for Continuous Improvement; and Quality, Analytics, and Big Data. Also, three courses in the Lean Six Sigma Series will be offered: Continuous Improvement Green Belt; Continuous Improvement Black Belt; and Continuous Improvement Master Black Belt.

Intriguing Reads
One of the most comprehensive books on big data is “Big Data Beyond the Hype: A Guide to Conversations for Today’s Data Center” by Zikopoulos, DeRoos, Bienko, Buglio, and Andrews. The five authors are associated with IBM—which is a global leader in analytics. The book provides an easy-to-understand explanation of big data from business and technical perspectives.

Newsletter – January, 2016

On My Mind
Analytics is the collection and analysis of qualitative and quantitative data for decision making. All is well unless you are the decision maker and the datasets at your disposal contain a lot of errors. Some have suggested that messy data is almost inevitable in a big data context—messy means you have errors. This is troublesome in the digital age because of the propagation of errors. One data collection or data entry error—whether made by a human or a faulty sensor—can potentially spread as it moves from one log book/spreadsheet/system to another. Years ago an acquaintance of mine used various spellings of his name (e.g., John Doe, J. Doe, John Q. Doe) to better understand how information about him was being sold. Needless to say the information trails were quite interesting. Fast forward to today in the digital age and you can imagine how a piece of information like a misspelled name can spread. It is important to assure data accuracy when you have control over the data collection and data entry processes. If you don’t have control, then you should probably assume you have data errors and evaluate the risks inherent in your decision making process.

Interesting Stories
What good is poor eyesight? It might be a benefit in some situations. Sir Ronald Fisher was one of the greatest statisticians of all time and he would make my “Mount Rushmore” of statisticians. He unfortunately suffered from poor eyesight for much of his life (search for Wikipedia Sir Ronald Fisher). I remember a professor telling me once that Fisher had an amazing ability to visualize problems—and solutions—in geometrical terms because of his poor eyesight. This made it challenging for “equation-driven” statisticians because they could not “see” what he was talking about—they needed a theorem and its proof to be convinced which Fisher didn’t always provide. We should remember that—for whatever the reasons—people learn and communicate differently.

Company News
Strategic Improvement Systems can now officially be referred to as SIS for short. The 2016 schedule for public seminars and courses sponsored by SIS will be finalized soon – here is a sneak peek at the offerings: Yellow Belt for Continuous Improvement Champions (will be held February 22, 2016); Japanese-Style Hoshin Kanri; Innovation Tools for Change Agents; Statistical Methods for Continuous Improvement; and Quality, Analytics, and Big Data. Also, three courses in the Lean Six Sigma Series will be offered: Continuous Improvement Green Belt; Continuous Improvement Black Belt; and Continuous Improvement Master Black Belt.

Intriguing Reads
The 2015 book titled, Social Big Data Mining by Hiroshi Ishikawa of Tokyo Metropolitan University, nicely integrates big data and social media in a practical way. The diagrams—which include color plates in a special section at the end of the book—are very useful. I especially enjoyed the chapter on “Hypotheses in the Era of Big Data.”