Newsletter – July, 2012

On My Mind

June 30 and July 1 represent the end of the first half of the year and the beginning of the second half for many companies. This transition period often involves a review of organizational performance and the development of predictions for what will happen the rest of the year. It can be a humbling time because we learn about the absurdity of some of our assumptions. We also are reminded how difficult it is to predict the future. “I didn’t see that coming!” Here are a few simple questions to guide the conversation: Which of our assumptions were wrong? Which events emerged that surprised us? Which of our predictions about the world came true? What are some likely scenarios for the rest of the year? This is a good time to revise our assumptions about the future and develop new likely scenarios. There might be a driving question at this mid-year point we need to answer. For example, Apple is in the process of answering this question: “Should we launch a smaller iPad?” This is not an easy question to answer because Steve Jobs was known to be opposed to the idea and it could be viewed as a “follower” strategic move (Financial Times, July 7-8, 2012). Best wishes to those who are starting the second half of their year. I hope you are able to accomplish your 2012 objectives.

Interesting Stories

I took my introductory statistics class in college thirty years ago and it was taught by Dr. Felix Hsia. He showed us how to manipulate the sum of squares in order to re-express it in an alternative form. The sum of squares is a building block expression that is fundamental to many statistical techniques. We repeatedly drilled on this conversion process which seemed pointless at the time. However, I can still do it thirty years later and it provides me with insight into what is happening behind the scenes of some statistical analyses. This is different than using a mouse to “point and click” or using a touch pad on a screen. We have gained so much with new information technology products over the past few years, but we might also be losing some important capabilities.

Company News

There are seats still available for the Advances in Hoshin Kanri public seminar to be held August 15, 2012 at the Crowne Plaza in Plymouth, MN. Please contact me at for a detailed brochure. The Fourth Annual Advanced Strategic Improvement Practices Conference will be held October 16, 2012 at the BayView Event Center on the shore of beautiful Lake Minnetonka. There will be presenters from the Carlson School of Management, MN Department of Human Services, MN Department of Natural Resources, Nortech Systems, Cargill, Hormel Foods, 3M, Seagate Technology, Mayo Clinic, Life Time Fitness, and The Toro Company.

Intriguing Reads

Social networks are starting to play an important role in some organizations in the accomplishment of strategic objectives. The book titled, An Executive’s Primer on the Strategy of Social Networks by Mason A. Carpenter, provides a nice introduction to the topic and the primary concepts, tools, and techniques. I especially liked the “Network Terms and Measures” section in the Appendix. If you give this short book a read, then you will soon be conversing with ease on social network concepts such as ties, connectors, distance, centrality, and density. It could one day help you accomplish your strategic objectives.