Newsletter – February, 2014

On My Mind

Chess has long been considered one of the best games of strategy and my favorite annual event—The 77th Tata Steel Chess Tournament—recently took place in the Netherlands. Twelve Grand Masters competed in the Tata Steel Masters category including five of the Top Ten ranked players in the world. Each player played every other player once and so there were eleven rounds. Levon Aronian of Armenia played brilliantly and won by a safe margin. He won two games while playing with black pieces as did Loek Van Wely. The only player in the field not to earn a black victory was Fabiano Caruana of Italy. There are three outcomes to a game of chess: the player using the white pieces wins, the player using the black pieces wins, or the players draw. In this tournament, 45.5% of the games resulted in a draw (30/66), 34.8% of the games were won by the player using the white pieces (23/66), and 19.7% of the games were won by the player using the black pieces (13/66). A black victory was the rarest outcome in this tournament like so many other tournaments and those are the games I like to analyze. If you are interested in sharpening your strategy skills, then consider frequenting the World Chess Federation (FIDE) website (“”) to learn about world class players and upcoming events.

Interesting Stories

The National Football League Super Bowl game was recently played and the Seattle Seahawks claimed the title for the first time. Seattle was an interesting team because it was led by second-year quarterback Russell Wilson—who was selected 75th in the NFL draft—and there were something like 21 players on the team who were undrafted. Wilson was overlooked by many teams because of his relatively small stature (5’10” and 185 pounds). Wilson has become known for his precision moves, craftiness, quickness, and smart decisions. One announcer said something I found hilarious: “His intangibles are off the charts.” On what charts would you find intangibles? Wilson’s success is a good reminder that contemporary, state of the art analytical decision processes are not perfect.

Company News

The 2014 Public Seminar schedule for Strategic Improvement Systems is now available on this website. You might need to refresh your browser to see the latest version. There are ten offerings ranging from Analytics to Service Design to Hoshin Kanri. On another note, I will be giving an evening presentation on February 11 at a Minnesota American Society for Quality Program Meeting. It is titled, “Dr. W. Edwards Deming: The World of Quality Twenty Years After His Death.” Please go to “” for details.

Intriguing Reads

The fifth edition of the “Lean Lexicon” book has just been published by the Lean Enterprise Institute. This is one of the most useful Lean reference books and the latest edition contains fourteen new definitions. I have found this book to be an indispensable resource in my consulting and training work. I highly recommend this book whether you are just starting your Lean journey or you want to enhance your current knowledge.