Newsletter – November, 2022

On My Mind
Product and service quality were both adversely affected the past two-plus years for many organizations due to disrupted operations, dispersed workforces, supply chain issues, and global conflicts. The Health &Safety performance category has understandably been receiving much of the attention of senior executives for organizational survival—sometimes at the expense of product and service quality. Now is an opportune time for senior executives to declare superior quality a strategic intent and develop the organizational capabilities to achieve it. Achieving superior product and service quality in the marketplace—without adversely affecting health and safety—will require an investment of time and money. Those organizations who focus on achieving superior product and service quality without adversely affecting health and safety will create a competitive advantage and/or core competence.

Interesting Stories
The Ford Motor Company (“Ford”) has once again placed “Quality” as a top priority. This reminds me of what Ford did in the 1980s under Don Petersen who was the CEO of Ford from 1985 to 1990. You might recall the Ford slogan “Quality is Job One” which the company used in the 1980s and 1990s. I’ve seen many organizations “start and stop” their Quality initiatives several times over the years. It runs contrary to the philosophy of continuous improvement. Leaders of organizations should keep in mind at least two of Dr. W. Edwards Deming’s Fourteen Points: Point #1 – Create constancy of purpose for improvement of product and service and Point #5 – Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service. While difficult – it is worth it

Company News
I’ll be presenting on Superior Quality as a Competitive Advantage on November 2, 2022 at the Minnesota American Society for Quality Annual Conference at the Minneapolis Convention Center. My next public Strategic Improvement Black Belt course starts January 18, 2023 and my next public Strategic Improvement Green Belt course starts February 14, 2023. The course brochures are available on the PUBLIC SEMINARS page of this website. The full public Winter 2022 / Spring 2023 schedule will be available November 18, 2022 on the same website page.

Intriguing Reads
I recently studied Volume 1 Number 1 of the Harvard Business Review (HBR) which was published in October of 1922. It is hard to believe the HBR is 100 years old! Some of the content in that first publication is still relevant today. Here are the topics in the first HBR: Essential Groundwork for a Broad Executive Theory; The Taxation of Capital Gains; Bank Management and the Business Cycle; The Future of American Export Trade; Creditors’ Committee Receiverships; Bank Reserves under the Federal Reserve System; The Railroad Consolidation Plan; The Effect of Hedging Upon Flour Mill Control; The Use and Limitations of Psychological Tests; Some Relations between Technical and Business Training; Significance of Stock-turn in Retail and Wholesale Merchandising; Department Contents; Summaries of Business Research; Case Studies in Business; Reviews of Business Literature; and Book Notices. What will they say one hundred years from now about the contents of the October of 2022 HBR?

Newsletter – October, 2022

On My Mind
Each year I leave my Annual Conference energized and filled with optimism. This year was no exception. It was great to be in-person again after hosting the conference the past two years on Zoom. Both formal and informal learning always occur during my annual conference – the formal learning from the presentations and the informal learning during the conversations at breaks, lunch, and networking sessions. I’m always delighted to see a group of attendees from different organizations discussing the presentations and sharing ideas.

Interesting Stories
My latest research report on Advances in Horizontal Interaction involved a lot of reflection in the form of a “look back” over the past twenty-five years which is how long it has been since the publication of my doctoral dissertation on Horizontal Interaction During Strategic Improvement Initiatives. Here is the Executive Summary from that research report: “Horizontal interaction occurs when a member of one organizational unit communicates with a member of another organizational unit located on the same level of an organizational hierarchy or on a different main branch of an organizational hierarchy. Those interactions are different than the vertical supervisor-to-supervisee interactions that routinely occur during day-to-day operations. Horizontal interactions are often necessary during strategic improvement initiatives to improve organizational performance in such areas as safety, quality, customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, productivity, growth, and cost. Organizations that develop strong horizontal interaction capabilities have a potential new source of competitive advantage and/or a new core competence. My doctoral dissertation was published in 1997 and it is titled, “Horizontal Interaction During Strategic Improvement Initiatives: A Study Involving Six Quality-Oriented Organizations.” That research (1) confirmed the importance of horizontal interaction during strategic improvement initiatives, (2) revealed new insights into the nature of horizontal interactions, and (3) identified organizational best practices. This research report explains the need for horizontal interaction; summarizes the primary findings from the 1997 dissertation; discusses three advances in horizontal interaction since 1997; discusses three current horizontal interaction challenges; and discusses the future of horizontal interaction.”

Company News
My new research report on Advances in Horizontal Interaction was published on September 22, 2022 in conjunction with the 14th Annual Advanced Strategic Improvement Practices Conference which was held September 22, 2022 at the Crowne Plaza Minneapolis West in Plymouth, MN. There were ten presentations in addition to mine: Lisa Dejoras – MN DHS Direct Care & Treatment; Gene Dankbar – Mayo Clinic (retired); Dr. Mary Zellmer-Bruhn – University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management; Mike Oachs & Ryan Walberg – New Flyer; Nancy Freeman – MN DHS Direct Care & Treatment; Jeff Ziegler – Mayo Clinic; Michael Rockhold & Emily Magnan – University of Minnesota Physicians; Justin Gilbert – IBM; Katherine Kreager-Pieper – Dakota County Community Living Services; and Vern Campbell – Process Management & University of Manitoba. I presented on Superior Quality as a Competitive Advantage at the Madison, Wisconsin American Society for Quality Session on October 11, 2022. My Visions & Visioning Workshop will be held November 9, 2022 at the Crowne Plaza Minneapolis West and my next public Strategic Improvement Black Belt course starts January 18, 2023.

Intriguing Reads
I gained a new appreciation for some of the early experts on horizontal interaction by going back through their classic works. In particular, Fayol (1916), Barnard (1938), and Galbraith (1994). Few people take the time to study the literature anymore – Why do that when a “search” is at your fingertips? That is one of the differences between deep and shallow research. Deep research is necessary to develop expertise in many areas and although it is time consuming, it is worth the investment of time. Here are three references in case you want to do some deep research on horizontal interaction: (1) Fayol, H., (1949), General and Industrial Management (C. Storrs, Translator), Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, London, England (Originally Published in French, 1916); (2) Barnard, C. I., (1938), The Functions of the Executive (13th Anniversary Edition), Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.; and (3) Galbraith, J. R., (1994), Competing with Flexible Lateral Organizations (2nd Ed.), Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA.

Newsletter – September, 2022

On My Mind
As they say, timing is everything. I departed London on September 4, 2022 . . . the new Prime Minister Liz Truss was appointed on September 5, 2022 and Queen Elizabeth II passed away on September 8, 2022. London changed dramatically from one week to the next and the changes continue as the Queen is mourned. Her son, King Charles III, has assumed the throne. I knew the first event was going to happen, but the passing of the Queen was a sad surprise. My thoughts and prayers are with the people of the United Kingdom.

Interesting Stories
I’ve been to London many times and so I avoided most of the tourist activities this trip. My favorite experiences this time were visits to the Churchill War Rooms, Temple Church, King’s College, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese (centuries-old tavern), a day trip to Oxford University, and a lunch on the Thames River with friends. London was bustling, intriguing, and as cosmopolitan as ever. Like my other international trips over the years . . . I arrived home exhausted . . . and energized!

Company News
The 14th Annual Advanced Strategic Improvement Practices Conference will be held September 22, 2022 at the Crowne Plaza Minneapolis West in Plymouth, MN. There will be ten presentations in addition to mine: Lisa Dejoras – MN DHS Direct Care & Treatment; Gene Dankbar – Mayo Clinic (retired); Dr. Mary Zellmer-Bruhn – University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management; Mike Oachs & Ryan Walberg – New Flyer; Nancy Freeman – MN DHS Direct Care & Treatment; Jeff Ziegler – Mayo Clinic; Michael Rockhold & Emily Magnan – University of Minnesota Physicians; Justin Gilbert – IBM; Katherine Kreager-Pieper – Dakota County Community Living Services; and Vern Campbell – Process Management & University of Manitoba. My next public Strategic Improvement Green Belt course will be on Zoom and starts September 13, 2022.

Intriguing Reads
My plan was to spend quite a bit of time in London bookstores, but they were hard to find. I was actually quite surprised and disappointed at the small number of bookstores. Times have changed! I found out that one of the better bookstores in London today is Foyles on Charing Cross Road. It has several floors with a great selection of books in each of the standard categories. I also stumbled upon an excellent antiquarian bookshop. Amazingly – I left the bookshop without buying a book. I did manage to visit the King’s College Library and a library at one of the Oxford University colleges – both of those libraries were outstanding and inspiring.

Newsletter – August, 2022

On My Mind
Horizontal interaction occurs when a member of one organizational unit communicates with a member of another organizational unit located on the same level of an organizational hierarchy. For example, when a member of the Engineering Department communicates with a member of the Marketing Department. Those interactions are different than the vertical interactions supervisor-to-supervisee that routinely occur during normal operations. Horizontal interactions are often necessary to improve organizational performance in areas like safety, quality, customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, and productivity. Organizations that develop strong horizontal interaction abilities can potentially create a new source of competitive advantage and/or core competence. I published my doctoral dissertation in 1997 titled, “Horizontal Interaction During Strategic Improvement Initiatives: A Study Involving Six Quality-Oriented Organizations.” That study confirmed the importance of horizontal interaction during strategic improvement initiatives and revealed new insights into the nature of horizontal interactions and organizational practices. My current paper on Advances in Horizontal Interaction involves a look back on horizontal interaction over the past twenty-five years; discusses three advances in horizontal interaction since 1997; discusses three horizontal interaction challenges; and finally, I’ll discuss the future of horizontal interaction. The paper will be published at the 14th Annual Advanced Strategic Improvement Practices Conference on September 22, 2022.

Interesting Stories
On the great plains of North America in 1823 . . . mauled by a mother grizzly bear . . . left for dead . . . two hundred miles from the nearest settlement . . . with only a bearskin . . . such was the situation confronting frontiersman Hugh Glass. The actual site of the grizzly attack is roughly ten miles south of present-day Lemmon, South Dakota in the Shadehill Dam area. Amazingly, Glass crawled to the Cheyenne River and then he floated on part of a fallen tree to Fort Kiowa. He lived until 1833. The almost unbelievable story is true and was written about in the classic book Lord Grizzly by Frederick Manfred and more recently it was the inspiration for the movie The Revenant. If you are ever finding yourself in an extremely difficult situation, then just think of Hugh Glass.

Company News
My recent Vision Quest 2022 in Western South Dakota was another profound experience. These always allow me the time to pause from the busy demands of life, reflect on the past, and make decisions about the future. I can’t wait for Vision Quest 2023. The 14th Annual Advanced Strategic Improvement Practices Conference will be held September 22, 2022 at the Crowne Plaza Minneapolis West in Plymouth, MN. There will be ten presentations in addition to mine: Lisa Dejoras – MN DHS Direct Care & Treatment; Gene Dankbar – Mayo Clinic (retired); Dr. Mary Zellmer-Bruhn – University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management; Kurt Shaw, Mike Oachs, & Ryan Walberg – New Flyer; Nancy Freeman – MN DHS Direct Care & Treatment; Jeff Ziegler – Mayo Clinic; Michael Rockhold & Emily Magnan – University of Minnesota Physicians; Justin Gilbert – IBM; Katherine Kreager-Pieper – Dakota County Community Living Services; and Vern Campbell – Process Management & University of Manitoba. My next public Strategic Improvement Green Belt course will be on Zoom and starts September 13, 2022.

Intriguing Reads
Chess is considered one of the ultimate games of strategy. The Chess Informant is a quarterly chess publication that was established in 1966. It is considered one of the “must read” chess publications and many elite Grandmasters study each volume. I started collecting the Chess Informant with Volume #119 and I just received Volume #152 in the mail. There are three interesting sections each quarter: Chess Symbols; The Best Game of the Preceding Volume; and The Most Important Theoretical Novelty of the Preceding Volume. If you are interested in strategy and want to get serious about chess, then try Chess Informant.

Newsletter – May, 2022

On My Mind
Warren Buffett (age 91) is the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Berkshire Hathaway. Charlie Munger (age 98) is the Vice Chairman of the Board of Berkshire Hathaway. Together, they commanded the stage for several hours at the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting at the CHI Health Center in downtown Omaha, NE on April 30, 2022. The first item on the meeting agenda at 8:30 a.m. was an entertaining company movie. Warren and Charlie then conducted a Q&A session from 9:15 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and then a second Q&A session from 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Warren then chaired the actual Annual Meeting. Berkshire Hathaway is a publicly traded company listed on the New York Stock Exchange (symbols BRK-A and BRK-B). The company has over 371,000 employees and yet the corporate headquarters in Omaha has only 26 employees. The company is highly decentralized composed of numerous operating companies. This decentralized organizational structure has been successful in part because of the effectiveness of the operating company management teams. You can visit the Berkshire Hathaway website for more information.

Interesting Stories
I have some sad news to report . . . Dr. Andy Van de Ven (1945-2022) passed away recently at the age of 76. Andy was the ultimate scholar and professional – he was widely recognized as one of the world’s leading scholars on Innovation and Organizational Change. I served with Andy for three years on a Research Team at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota and he presented several times at my Annual Advanced Strategic Improvement Practices Conference. Most recently . . . Andy served as the Co-Editor and contributing author for The Oxford Handbook of Organizational Change & Innovation (2nd Edition). The obituary for Andy can be found in the Star Tribune. I’ll always be grateful for his guidance and friendship.

Company News
The next public Strategic Improvement Green Belt course starts May 18, 2022. The brochure is available on the PUBLIC SEMINARS page of this website. The next public Strategic Improvement Black Belt course will start in August of 2022 (dates TBD). I’ll be conducting several in-person one-day workshops this summer and fall: Leaning Operations (June 23, 2022); Project Portfolio Management (July of 2022); Leading Strategic Improvement (August of 2022); Visions & Visioning (September of 2022); and Advances in Hoshin Kanri (October of 2022).

Intriguing Reads
I recently read the book titled, Trillion Dollar Triage: How Jay Powell and the Fed Battled a President and a Pandemic – and Prevented Economic Disaster by Nick Timiraos. The author provides a detailed account of the pandemic-era financial crisis and how key players in government and the private sector worked together to successfully address the existential issues. I especially enjoyed learning about the history and inner workings of the Federal Reserve Board.

Newsletter – April, 2022

On My Mind
I’ve been a small business owner for thirty-three years and because of the size of my business I wear many hats: strategist, investor, researcher, technologist, innovator, processor, and marketer. I could imagine other hats, but those are the primary ones that resonate with me. Those seven “hat areas” are critical to the success of my business and so I have an improvement plan for each of those seven hats. My “7 Hats Framework” helps me grow and develop as a small business owner. What are the different hats that you wear in your work and what is your plan to improve in those areas?

Interesting Stories
The tragic situation in Ukraine has stimulated widespread interest in strategy resources including books and games. On the book front – I’m re-reading two books from my library: (1) Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis (2nd Edition) by Graham Allison and Philip Zelikow and (2) Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap? by Graham Allison. These are two classic books on geopolitics and strategy. On the games front – Chess is the game to study to better understand Russia and Go is the game to study to better understand China. Admittedly, I’m much better at Chess than Go, but I’ll keep trying to improve on both games. It is interesting to learn which games are played and revered in any particular country.

Company News
I facilitate the Business Roundtable for the SouthWest Metro Chamber of Commerce on the first Friday of every month from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. We typically meet at a local establishment where we discuss a relevant business topic. Please join our group sometime – details can be found on the Chamber website. My Spring/Summer public event schedule will be available in mid-April. The next public Strategic Improvement Green Belt course starts May 18, 2022 and there are a few seats still available. The brochure is available on the PUBLIC SEMINARS page of this website. The next public Strategic Improvement Black Belt course will start in July of 2022.

Intriguing Reads
I recently read the book titled, Imaginable: How to See the Future Coming and Feel Ready for Anything—Even Things That Seem Impossible Today by Jane McGonigal. The book focuses on questions, frameworks, and techniques for imagining different futures which is so relevant today given the uncertainty in the world. I especially liked Chapter 3: Play With Future Scenarios; Chapter 7: Choose Your Future Forces; and Chapter 11: Simulate Any Future You Want. If you want a practical guide for thinking deeply about the future, then give this book a try. You can also read my Visions & Visioning paper on the RESEARCH page of this website. Happy futuring!

Newsletter – November, 2021

On My Mind
My paper on Visions & Visioning is now available on the RESEARCH page of this website. One of the most interesting visions in history was the “Human on the Moonvision put forth by President John F. Kennedy on May 25, 1961: “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieve the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.” Here is an excerpt from my paper: “In 1961, the United States was far from having the necessary capabilities to attain the vision. President Kennedy appeared passionate, energetic, and confident during the delivery of the speech. The motivation for the vision was in part driven by the Cold War Space Race against the Soviet Union according to Ted Sorensen who was involved in pre-speech research and the writing of the speech. President Kennedy later repeated similar themes during subsequent speeches including his famous Rice University speech on September 12, 1962. He repeatedly made the case for attaining the vision and promoted it with confidence and passion. The Joint Session speech excerpt was thirty-one words in length. It was reportedly perceived as bold and wildly ambitious by some and impossible to attain by others. President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963 and so he did not witness the attainment of his vision. The endeavor was continued after his death by President Johnson and the vision was attained during President Nixon’s presidency.” Please read my paper for other great visions.

Interesting Stories
The Major League Baseball World Series is currently in progress and there are two interesting teams this year – the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves. Controversy surrounds both teams. The Astros won the World Series in 2017 and the team was confirmed to have “cheated” that season in the form of using technology to “steal signs.” The fans of the Braves commonly perform a “tomahawk chop” in unison during games which is known to offend some Native Americans and others. Aside from these controversies, the two teams are evenly matched and it should be a great World Series. Play ball!

Company News
I presented on “Creating a Quality Vision” at the American Society for Quality Madison, WI Section meeting on October 12, 2021. Over thirty people attended the Zoom event and the participants were very engaged and asked great questions. I was supposed to present in person, but the event was moved to Zoom because of the pandemic. There are a number of SIS events on the horizon: the Visions & Visioning short course on November 16, 2021; the Strategic Improvement Green Belt course which starts December 13, 2021; the Visions & Visioning webinar on December 21, 2021; the Strategic Improvement Yellow Belt course which starts January 4, 2022; and the Strategic Improvement Black Belt course which starts January 24, 2022. The brochures are available on the PUBLIC SEMINARS page of this website.

Intriguing Reads
I’ve been studying the annual “Letter to Shareholders” written to Berkshire Hathaway (BH) shareholders by Warren Buffett (91 years old), the Chairman & CEO of BH. The BH website has all of the letters dating back to 1977 which is where I started. Pre-1977 letters exist, but they are not on the BH website. The letters are packed with business insights plus they are very entertaining. The set of letters should be required reading for anyone interested in economics, management, and business. If you want to learn from a legendary business expert, then give these letters a try.

Newsletter – December, 2021

On My Mind
An organizational vision is not necessary or sufficient for organizational success. However, many leaders of organizations have found having a vision extremely valuable in directing and guiding strategic improvement efforts. The following is an excerpt on timing from my Visions & Visioning paper: “Timing is important when creating and communicating a vision. Lou Gerstner, former CEO of IBM, convened a press conference in July of 1993 after his first 100 days as CEO. He made the controversial statement (Gerstner, 2002): ‘What I’d like to do now is put these announcements in some sort of perspective for you. There’s been a lot of speculation as to when I’m going to deliver a vision of IBM, and what I’d like to say to all of you is that the last thing IBM needs right now is a vision.’ Fast forward to today, Jane Fraser—who became the CEO of Citigroup in March of 2021—is in the process of creating a vision (Benoit, 2021): ‘The bank [Citigroup] is planning an investor day for early 2022, where Ms. Fraser will spell out in further detail her vision for the bank, the first such presentation for Citigroup since 2017.’” If you are going to create an organizational vision, then make sure you get the timing right.

Interesting Stories
Magnus Carlsen (Norway) is defending his World Classical Chess Champion title against Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia). Carlsen holds the early lead after eight games of potentially fourteen games. All eight games have been interesting and exciting, but sometimes not until each player has made 20 or more moves. Players at their level are thoroughly prepared and have memorized the best-known moves for various openings which is referred to as chess theory. Their games become especially interesting and exciting when one of the players departs from the theory (i.e., preparation) leading the duo out of their preparation and into unknown territory. Mikhail Tal—the Eighth World Classical Chess Champion—was famous for his ability to take an opponent into the unknown. According to Tal: “You must take your opponent into a deep dark forest where 2+2=5, and the path leading out is only wide enough for one.”

Company News
I hosted the sixth of six sessions of Analytics Laboratory 2021. This series focused on sharing and learning analytics together. It was inspired by the Monday Night Beer & Statistics sessions hosted by Dr. George E. P. Box who became a mentor and friend of mine during my time at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. There are a number of SIS events on the horizon: the Strategic Improvement Green Belt course starts December 13, 2021; the Visions & Visioning webinar will be held on December 21, 2021; the Strategic Improvement Yellow Belt course starts January 4, 2022; and the Strategic Improvement Black Belt course starts January 24, 2022. The brochures are available on the PUBLIC SEMINARS page of this website.

Intriguing Reads
Max Euwe—a mathematician from the Netherlands—was the fifth World Classical Chess Champion from 1935-1937. Euwe was known for his ability to incorporate strategic planning ideas into the game of chess. He wrote a classic book titled Judgment and Planning in Chess which was published in 1953. I especially like Chapter 1 – First Steps in Judging and Planning and Chapter 10 – Illustrative Games. If you are interested in strategic planning and chess, then this is the book for you.

Newsletter – March, 2022

On My Mind
Numerous non-Russian companies have either temporarily paused or permanently ceased their operations in Russia. For many of those companies, it was a decision that will have implications for several years into the future and each Board of Directors had to make a decision based upon its values, morals, and business interests. Here are some company statements: (1) Coca-Cola – “The Coca-Cola Company announced today that it is suspending its business in Russia. Our hearts are with the people who are enduring unconscionable effects from these tragic events in Ukraine. We will continue to monitor and assess the situation as circumstances evolve.”; (2) Starbucks – “As I communicated Friday, we condemn the horrific attacks on Ukraine by Russia and our hearts go out to all those affected.” and (3) McDonald’s – “Our values mean we cannot ignore the needless human suffering unfolding in Ukraine . . .” Let’s hope the suffering ends soon.

Interesting Stories
Major League Baseball (MLB) and the MLB Players Union finally agreed to a collective bargaining agreement that ended a 90+ day lockout. Fans were getting very frustrated by the lack of contract negotiation progress by all reported accounts . . . it will be interesting to watch game attendance numbers. Fortunately, each team will play all 162 games. One of the most interesting developments coming out of the agreement was the planned introduction of the Designated Hitter role in the National League – pitchers will no longer have to bat. The American League has had that role for quite a while. This change will probably mean fewer bunts and more home runs in the National League. Play ball!

Company News
I presented on Creating a Quality Vision on the evening of February 8, 2022 at the MN American Society for Quality Section Meeting (Zoom platform). Several of my upcoming public webinars and short courses are sold out. The Spring Schedule will be available mid-March. The next public Strategic Improvement Green Belt course starts May 18, 2022 and there are a few seats still available. The brochure is available on the PUBLIC SEMINARS page of this website.

Intriguing Reads
Berkshire Hathaway—a Fortune 500 company headquartered in Omaha, NE—recently released its 2021 Annual Report which contains the most-read “Letter to Shareholders” in the world. That letter is written every year by the 91-year-old Warren Buffett (known as the “Sage of Omaha”) who is the company’s Chairman of the Board & CEO. The Annual Meeting will be held in Omaha, NE on Saturday, April 30, 2022. This event is typically live streamed on Yahoo Finance. It will be interesting what Warren Buffett—and Charlie Munger, Vice Chairman—say about the crisis in Ukraine. This event is a must see either live, live streamed, or later on YouTube.

Newsletter – February, 2022

On My Mind
Many organizations are now several weeks into the implementation of their 2022 Strategic Plan which is a good time to conduct a review to determine if implementation activities and actions are staying aligned with the four key foundational elements of the organization. I wrote about these four items in my Visions & Visioning paper which was published last September: “A vision is one of four key foundational elements commonly addressed during strategic planning . . . the other foundational elements are mission, philosophy, and values . . . A mission describes why the organization exists. A philosophy consists of one or more statements that describe the collective philosophy of the members of the organization. Values are words or statements that describe the deeply-held beliefs of the members of the organization. Values are used to guide member behavior (e.g., Integrity, Teamwork, Respect for People, Inclusion, etc.).” If you have been implementing your 2022 Strategic Plan and have one or more of the four key foundational elements, then this might be a good time to conduct a review.

Interesting Stories
Magnus Carlsen of Norway—who retained the World Classical Chess Champion title recently—won the prestigious Tata Steel Chess 2022 Tournament which was held in Wijk aan Zee in the Netherlands against thirteen Grand Masters. He won six games and drew seven games. It was another dominating tournament performance by the Champion. Interestingly, the player with the white chess pieces in chess makes the first move of the game and this has been shown to be an advantage because it determines the direction and tempo of the game. There were ninety-one games played in the Masters Division at the Tata Steel Chess 2022 Tournament with the following results: the player with the white pieces won 26 games (28.6%), the player with the black pieces won 16 games (17.6%), and there were 49 draws (53.8%). If you are not very familiar with the game of chess and are challenged to play a game, then choose the white pieces.

Company News
I’ll be presenting on Creating a Quality Vision on the evening of February 8, 2022 at the MN American Society for Quality Section Meeting (Zoom platform). The next public Leading Strategic Improvement two-hour short course will be held on the Zoom platform on March 15, 2022 and the next public Visions & Visioning two-hour short course will be held on the Zoom platform on April 19, 2022. The next public Strategic Improvement Green Belt course starts May 18, 2022. The brochures are available on the PUBLIC SEMINARS page of this website.

Intriguing Reads
I recently read the book The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh. Hanh passed away in January of 2022 at the age of 95. He was a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, poet, teacher, and author among other things. He had a profound impact on the world because of his promotion of mindfulness throughout the world. One of the book chapters I enjoyed the most was Chapter 5: One Is All, All Is One: The Five Aggregates (bodily and physical forms, feelings, perceptions, mental functionings, and consciousness). If you want to slow down and think more deeply about your life, then give this book a try.