Newsletter – October, 2014

On My Mind
Big Data is getting a lot of media attention in part because of the recent analytics movement; increased data storage capacity; and increased computing power. Some professional societies, such as the American Statistical Association and the American Society for Quality, are thinking deeply about the role they can play in the analytics movement. I’ve created an original cartoon that shows one executive speaking to another executive: “My company is skipping Big Data and going right to Gigantic Data.” There is much more to analytics than the size of a data set and computing power. We have to expand our definition of data to include audio recordings, pictures, video clips, tweets, likes, etc. This has opened the door for more integrative analytical techniques. I’ve been using the following framework lately: Zero Data, Small Data, Medium Data, and Big Data. Zero Data is the starting point and consists of answers to questions like the following: Why does our organization exist? What is our vision? What are our values? How will we measure performance? What are our strategic priorities? Answers to these questions are informed by experience, passion, insight, intuition, wisdom, and judgment. I suggest leaders spend some time on Zero Data before they invest a lot of time and money on Big Data.

Interesting Stories
I mentioned the 2014 Sinquefield Cup in my last newsletter. Fabiano Caruana, 22, easily won the historic tournament this year. He amazingly won his first seven games of the tournament earning him recognition for achieving one of the best world class tournament performances of all time. On another note, it will be interesting to see how far the Kansas City Royals go in the Major League Baseball playoffs. Considered a longshot at the beginning of the season, the Royals with their devil-may-care, gritty playing style are up three games to zero over the Baltimore Orioles. They now have confidence and their enthusiasm is infectious.

Company News
The Advanced Strategic Improvement Practices Conference was held September 24, 2014. This was another great success with a record attendance. A big thank you is owed to the presenters:  Scott Martens, Mary Jo Caldwell, Justin Gilbert, Dr. Vipul Trivedi, Randy Harelstad, Jim Buckman, Heather Vossler, Melissa Lenk, Cathy Reiter, Vern Campbell, Linda Nelson, Jeff Swanson, Dan Storkamp, Jay Meyer, and Lou Schultz. I will be making two presentations at the International Conference on Quality in Tokyo, Japan mid-October. One presentation is titled, “Trend of Data Analysis in the U.S.” and the other presentation is titled, “Applying the Four Student Model During the SDCA Cycle.” The paper associated with the latter presentation will be available on this website in late October.

Intriguing Reads
I re-read Guide to Quality Control by Dr. Kaoru Ishikawa in preparation for my trip to Japan. It is funny how reading a book again after a few years reveals new insights and lessons. The reader is more experienced and hopefully wiser and sees things in new ways. I especially enjoyed Chapter 1: How to collect data; Chapter 3; Cause-and-effect diagram; Chapter 4: Check sheets; and Chapters 7-8: Control charts. If you’ve never read this book before—give it a try.