Newsletter – June, 2020

On My Mind
My heart goes out to the family and friends of George Floyd. His senseless death is a grim reminder that much work still needs to be done in our society. Recent discussions in the media reminded me of a passage in the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig: “But to tear down a factory or to revolt against a government or to avoid repair of a motorcycle because it is a system is to attack effects rather than causes; and as long as the attack is upon effects only, no change is possible. The true system, the real system, is our present construction of systematic thought itself, rationality itself, and if a factory is torn down but the rationality which produced it is left standing, then that rationality will simply produce another factory. If a revolution destroys a systematic government, but the systematic patterns of thought that produced that government are left intact, then those patterns will repeat themselves in the succeeding government. There’s so much talk about the system. And so little understanding.”

Interesting Stories
Two of my dear friends recently passed away: Kent Hodgson and Bishwambhar “Bish” Mishra. Kent passed away on May 27 at the age of 86 after having lived a full life. Kent and I made a pilgrimage to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY in 2011. It was an epic trip for both of us. Kent was a scholar, teacher, author, photographer, and African safari adventurer. I’ll miss taking him to Minnesota Twins baseball games. Bish Mishra was the consummate Quality Management professional. Bish passed away unexpectedly in early June. He was the former Director of the Mahindra Institute of Quality (MIQ) and leader of the annual Mahindra & Mahindra The Mahindra Way (TMW)” evaluation and assessment process. I worked closely with Bish on three annual TMW cycles. According to Wikipedia, a “Brahmin” is “a varna [one of the four castes] in Hinduism specializing as priests, teachers and protectors of sacred learning across generations.” Bish was a Quality Management brahmin who made numerous contributions to society.

Company News
I conducted two Zoom webinars in May: Managing a Project Portfolio on May 22 and Scenario Planning & Analysis on May 29. The next three webinars will be Customer Segmentation on June 12, Timeless Quality Concepts on June 19, and Time Series Performance Analysis on June 25. The next Strategic Improvement Systems, LLC public courses are the following: Strategic Improvement Green Belt starts August 4, 2020 and Strategic Improvement Black Belt starts August 10, 2020. The webinar and course brochures are available on the PUBLIC SEMINARS page of this website.

Intriguing Reads
I’ve been doing a lot of scenario planning and analysis work because of COVID-19 and so I re-immersed myself in that literature stream. I discovered a great book titled, Strategic Reframing: The Oxford Scenario Planning Approach by Dr. Rafael Ramirez, Director of the Oxford Scenarios Programme, and Dr. Angela Wilkinson, Strategic Foresight Counsellor for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. They both were involved at one time in scenario planning at Royal Dutch Shell—considered one of the best companies at scenario planning. The authors clearly explain in detail the very practical Oxford Scenario Planning Approach (OSPA). I especially enjoyed Chapter 5 on How Scenario Planning is Done: The OSPA in Action.