Newsletter – December, 2014

On My Mind
This is the time of year that I typically review with my clients the strategic planning assumptions they developed and stated at the beginning of the year. The assumptions vary by organization, but they could be related to the economy, customer preferences, regulations, competitor moves, funding, technology advances, political elections, geo-political events, and societal trends. Combinations of the assumptions are represented and analyzed in the form of scenarios. It is a great learning opportunity for the leaders of these organizations in order to determine the following: Where were we right? Where were we wrong? What did we miss? What surprised us? This discussion is a helpful warm-up prior to developing and stating the assumptions for the next year. A strategic planning process should improve every year and this is one technique that leaders can use to assure this happens. Getting good at assumption setting can become a source of competitive advantage.

Interesting Stories
Chess has long been considered one of the best games in the world for developing strategic thinking skills and it has a chance of eventually becoming an official Olympic sport. Magnus Carlsen, 24, of Norway, recently retained his World Chess Champion title by defeating Vishy Anand, 43, of India, in an intriguing battle of minds in Sochi, Russia. One of the most pivotal moments of the match occurred during Game 6 when Carlsen made a “blunder” move with his King. Fortunately for Carlsen, Anand failed to recognize the blunder and therefore couldn’t capitalize on it. Anand eventually lost the game. We’ll never know what would have happened had Anand capitalized on Carlsen’s blunder, but there might have been a different World Chess Champion.

Company News
2014 has been an enriching year professionally for me in part because of my research on Hoshin Kanri, Analytics, and Standardization and my trips to India and Japan. My paper titled, Quality Management and Big Data, will be available in February of 2015. I will be conducting several public seminars in 2015 including Japanese-Style Hoshin Kanri; Creating Successful Standards; Managing Innovation Projects; Analytics for Continuous Improvement; Continuous Improvement Green Belt; Continuous Improvement Black Belt; and Continuous Improvement Master Black Belt. The public seminar schedule will be available in early January.

Intriguing Reads
I’ve come across a good book on analytics by Nathan Yau titled, Data Points: Visualization That Means Something. The book contains numerous examples that show how data can be displayed effectively. I especially liked Chapter 4 on Exploring Data Visually. The challenge is to find a reasonably priced software package that can create similar charts and graphs. I’ve seen a lot of charts/graphs in magazines and newspapers recently that are cute, but very difficult to understand. The aim should be to display a chart/graph that allows the reader to maximize the amount of information extracted with the minimum amount of time and effort.