Newsletter – October, 2018

On My Mind
Automobile recalls are quite common these days and even the highly-respected Toyota Motor Corporation occasionally experiences such events. Toyota recently recalled 2.4 million Prius hybrids because they can stall while driving (see the October 5, 2018 issue of USA TODAY). I’m reminded of an article I wrote with Schroeder, Linderman, and Rickard (2010) on Preserving Quality Superiority which appeared in Quality Progress. Once you become #1 in Quality in your industry – How do you stay #1? Based on our research, we identified six factors important for preserving quality superiority: (1) Quality superiority is a strategic intent; (2) Go beyond customer focus to customer intimacy; (3) Leaders at all levels are engaged in quality activities; (4) You have a strong Quality Management System in place; (5) Quality is embedded in the culture; and (6) The organization adapts to—and shapes—the environment. We know so much about how to become #1 in Quality, but we still don’t know a lot about how to stay #1. Toyota is an excellent current case study on how difficult it is to stay on top.

Interesting Stories
Companies have so much to worry about today in terms of data/information security and privacy. Data breaches, hacking, cyberattacks, and now accusations that people in China might have planted surveillance microchips in servers used by leading U.S. technology companies (see the October 4, 2018 issue of the Washington Post). The lesson continues to be invest time and money into security, be vigilant, and back-up, back-up, back-up!

Company News
I’d like to thank the following presenters for helping make the 10th Annual Advanced Strategic Improvement Practices Conference on October 2, 2018 at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum a great success: Cathy Moeger (retired) of the MN Pollution Control Agency; Bruce King of Seagate; Sara Rose of the MN Department of Human Services Office of Continuous Improvement; Dr. Ralph Bovard of the HealthPartners Institute; Kristine Enno, Cathy Robinson, and Dr. Carrie Oswald of Be The Match; Dr. Tanya Rodriguez of Hormel Foods; Dr. Johanna Rian and Gene Dankbar of the Mayo Clinic; Terra Carey of the MN Department of Human Services Direct Care and Treatment; David Peter of IBM; Randy Guse of the United Health Group; Crystal Selchow of Loram Maintenance of Way; and Vern Campbell of Process Management and the University of Manitoba. Everyone in attendance benefitted greatly from the knowledge the presenters shared.The schedule for the next public SIS events has been set: Statistics & Analytics for Strategic Improvement will be held November 6-7, 2018; Leading Rapid Action Projects will be held November 14-15, 2018; Strategy Tools for Strategic Improvement will be held November 29, 2018; Implementing Process Management will be held December 12-13, 2018; Strategic Improvement Green Belt will start January 8, 2019; Strategic Improvement Black Belt will start January 15, 2019; and Customer Experience Deep Dive will be held January 23, 2019. The brochures for these events are available on this website.

Intriguing Reads
The book Data Mining: Practical Machine Learning Tools and Techniques by Witten, Frank, Hall, and Pal is an excellent starter book on the subject. I especially enjoyed Chapter 4 on algorithms and Chapter 13 on applications. If you want to get going on learning about analytics and big data, then this should be one of your first technical books.