Newsletter – January, 2017

On My Mind
There is nothing like a trip to another country to stimulate the mind and to gain an appreciation for a different culture. I was reminded again of the value of travel during my recent trip with my family to the U.K., France, Germany, and Italy. In addition to spending quality time with my family, here are a few highlights: (1) having my picture taken with MI6 in the background in London, (2) talking chess with one of the bouquinistes (booksellers) along the Seine River in Paris, (3) imagining some of my ancestral roots during a visit to the Hofbrauhaus in Munich, and (4) enjoying the Gallery of Maps room in The Vatican Museums in Rome. The trip led me to add some additional 2017 resolutions such as learn another language, study more history, spend more time in art museums, spend more time studying other cultures, and take more family vacations outside the U.S. I truly believe the benefits of international travel far outweigh the costs.

Interesting Stories
I recently had only 50 minutes between flights while connecting through Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport and I knew there would be multiple security checks to go through because of a previous trip through the Schiphol Airport two months ago. Needless to say, I wasn’t optimistic about my chances of making my connecting flight. A KLM Flight Attendant came to my rescue without my even asking for help. She talked to me several times during the flight—without prompting—about our arrival gate, my new departure gate, the checkpoints I could expect, and some tips for locating and accessing “Express Lanes” at the checkpoints. She was simply fantastic and out of the ordinary. It got me thinking about why I was surprised. Shouldn’t this be a routine service Flight Attendants provide? Has airline service deteriorated so much that “basic good service” now stands out like a sore thumb? I fly again soon and so now my expectations are higher because of Flight Attendant X from KLM.

Company News
The next public courses offered by Strategic Improvement Systems, LLC include a ten day Strategic Improvement Black Belt course starting January 17 and an eight day Continuous Improvement Green Belt course starting March 14. In the works are a new one day Basic Analytics course (using Excel) and a new two day Multivariate Analysis course (using Minitab). The dates and brochures for those two new courses will be available the end of January.

Intriguing Reads
Every year for the past few years I have re-read the slim book Understanding Digital Technology by F. A. Wilson. Wilson explains in a relatively non-technical way the basic “blocking and tackling” of digital technology. Although it was first published in 1995, the book is still relevant because the foundational technologies have not changed. I especially liked the chapters on Digital Arithmetic and Electronic Logic. If you want to quickly learn some of the basic technical aspects of digital technology, then give this book a try.