Newsletter – March, 2013

On My Mind

This is the International Year of Statistics ( and we are in a new era of Big Data and Analytics. Maybe we are getting to the point where we have too much data on performance. Some industries, such as healthcare and major league baseball, seem to have more than enough data on performance. Simply having performance data may no longer be a competitive advantage in some industries. The new source of competitive advantage might be associated with what a leader does with the data. A leader should ask four seemingly simple questions: (1) How should we measure performance? (2) What does the data mean? (3) What actions should we take? (4) Were our actions successful? Generally, I think leaders have figured out an answer to question number one. The big opportunities might be associated with the final three questions.

Interesting Stories

Wrestling fans were disappointed recently to learn that the International Olympic Committee voted to recommend that wrestling be omitted from the 2020 Olympics. This is bizarre since wrestling was one of the earliest Olympic sports. I enjoy watching table tennis and badminton, but do they deserve to be Olympic sports any more than wrestling? This news didn’t seem to temper the enthusiasm of the wrestling fans at the recent Minnesota State High School Wrestling Tournament in St. Paul, MN. Would Apple Valley win its eighth consecutive Class AAA team title or would the #1 ranked St. Michael-Albertville team claim the title? The championship contest was exciting and came down to the final heavyweight match which the St. Michael-Albertville wrestler won, but the final team scores ended up to be: Apple Valley 28, St. Michael Albertville 28. The ending was strangely anti-climactic and I noticed very few people celebrating the outcome. It seems we prefer contests that have a clear winner. I wonder why?

Company News

Roughly twenty-five participants attended my half day workshop on Implementing Hoshin Kanri for Competitive Advantage at the Minnesota ASQ Professional Development Summit on February 27, 2013. My 2013 public seminar schedule has been finalized: 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 couldn’t put down the new book on strategy titled, Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works. The authors are A. G. Lafley, former Chairman and CEO of Procter & Gamble, and Roger L. Martin, Dean of the Rotman School of Management in Toronto. Many of the ideas weren’t necessarily new or profound, but I liked the perspective and framework provided by the authors which came to life through recognizable P&G products and their stories. The authors assert, “strategy is choice” and they outlined a sequence of choice questions to guide strategy development. What is our winning aspiration? Where will we play? How will we win? What capabilities must be in place? What management systems are required? The chapters are organized around these questions. This body of work has a good chance of becoming one of those must read management books.