Newsletter – February, 2020

On My Mind: There is a new interesting root cause analysis case study – the recent Iowa presidential caucus. It was unfortunate for everyone involved that the final caucus results weren’t available until a few days after the event. Some of the leading root cause candidates at this point seem to be the use of a new and unproven technology in the form of an application (“app”); inadequate testing of the application; inadequate training of users on the application; Plan B was a phone hotline with not enough people to answer all the calls from the precinct workers in a reasonable amount of time; the phone hotline number was published on social media; and numerous opposition party members called the phone hotline number which clogged the system. This was a sad few days for Iowa because the world was watching. The state’s reputation was tarnished and we’ll see if Iowa loses the first event spot in the next presidential election. There are many lessons that can be drawn from this case study: (1) Thoroughly test new technology, (2) Conduct the testing of the new technology well in advance of the actual use of the technology, (3) Train the users of the new technology and assure they reach the necessary level of competency, and (4) Have a well-thought out Plan B in the event the new technology doesn’t work. Interesting Stories: My heart goes out to the people of China and others around the world who are directly affected by the coronavirus. Sadly, one of the doctors who discovered the virus—Dr. Li Wenliang—died of complications from the virus. He was one of the first health care professionals to warn officials of the virus. On a lighter note – I attended the Lake Minnetonka Klondike Dog Derby on February 9. Around 40 teams competed in the 40 mile race. It was my first sled dog race and I plan to attend next year. Company News: I will be presenting on Big Data Analytics at the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) event at the Edina Library on March 10, 2020 at 5:30 p.m. The next Strategic Improvement Systems, LLC public courses are the following: Strategic Improvement Black Belt starts April 7, 2020; Small Business Strategic Planning will be held April 15, 2020; Strategic Improvement Green Belt starts May 4, 2020; and Introduction to Multivariate Data Analysis will be held May 21, 2020. The course brochures are available on the PUBLIC SEMINARS page of this website. Intriguing Reads: “It is important to think clearly and precisely.” I remember Dr. David Harville saying this several times during my graduate course in Linear Models at Iowa State University. He practiced what he preached in that his course notes and lectures were always precisely to the point. I feel fortunate to have studied under him. If you are interested in advanced statistical methods and big data analytics, then I suggest you study Dr. Harville’s two excellent textbooks: “Matrix Algebra From a Statistician’s Perspective (1997)” and “Linear Models and the Relevant Distributions and Matrix Algebra (2018).” Both help provide the necessary foundation for doing advanced analytical work.