Newsletter – February, 2013

On My Mind

Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen of Norway removed any doubt recently as to who is the Number One chess player in the world by winning the 75th Tata Steel Chess Tournament held in Wijk aan Zee, the Netherlands. Carlsen won seven games and drew six against thirteen formidable opponents. Levon Aronian of Armenia finished second and Viswanathan Anand of India finished third. Of the ninety-one games that were played in the top grandmaster class, “White” won twenty-eight games (30.8% of the games), “Black” won thirteen games (14.3%), and there were fifty games that ended in a draw (54.9%). The player with the white pieces moves first to begin the game. The implication is that it was roughly twice as difficult to win while playing with the black pieces than with the white pieces. Hikaru Nakamura of the USA and Yifan Hou of China each won three games during the tournament all while playing with black pieces—what an accomplishment! You can read more about the tournament results at

Interesting Stories

So who really won? Be careful of using end-of-game/match scores to evaluate team performance. Sometimes winning is about who shows up! Warner-Northwestern (WN) recently defeated Ipswich-Leola (IL) in a South Dakota high school wrestling dual by a score of 42 to 24 according to the Aberdeen News (my tally came up with 36 to 24, but that is neither here-nor-there). A closer look at the fourteen individual matches reveals a more interesting story: 106 (pounds)—WN won by forfeit; 113—IL won by forfeit; 120—no match; 126—IL won by forfeit; 132—no match; 138—IL won by forfeit; 145—Tanner Moore of IL pinned Austin Dreyer of WN in 0:43 seconds; 152—no match; 160—WN won by forfeit; 170—no match; 182—WN won by forfeit; 195—WN won by forfeit; 220—WN won by forfeit; and 285—WN won by forfeit. Even though Warner-Northwestern won the dual, Ipswich-Leola won the only match in which someone actually wrestled. I hope these small-town wrestling teams survive.

Company News

I will be conducting a half day workshop on Implementing Hoshin Kanri for Competitive Advantage at the Minnesota ASQ Professional Development Summit on February 27, 2013. Go to to register. Here is my 2013 public seminar schedule: Strategy Tools for Continuous Improvement (May 9, 2013); Creating Standard Work (May 23, 2013); Leading Design Projects (June 6, 2013); and Measuring Performance Over Time (June 20, 2013). The public seminar brochures are accessible by selecting the “SERVICES” tab on the home page.

Intriguing Reads

I recently re-read Taiichi Ohno’s Workplace Management, the Special 100th Birthday Edition. The forward was written by Fujio Cho, Chairman of the Toyota Motor Corporation. This book explains some of the history of the Toyota Production System and some of the principles and techniques that helped shape it. This book is a must read for anyone who wants to understand where the modern-day Lean approach came from. While reading the book, I was reminded how important first principles and historical development are in shaping a field like strategic improvement.