Newsletter – December, 2020

On My Mind
December is the month each year when I reflect back on the year and finalize my strategic plan for the next year. I’ll know doubt years from now remember 2020 for three major phenomena: COVID-19, widespread social unrest, and a contentious election season. It has been a challenging year for so many people—both personally and professionally. My heart goes out to all of those business owners who were required to close their business or cut back on their services through no fault of their own. There are several promising vaccines and so we should be optimistic about 2021. Many organizations—even historically established ones—are now in a growth mode which is exciting. Best wishes as you conclude 2020 and begin 2021 with a clean slate.

Interesting Stories
Another life that ended too soon . . . Tony Hsieh—the former CEO of Zappos.com—passed away recently from complications from injuries sustained during a house fire. Hsieh was ultra-passionate about focusing on customers and he became well-known for many things including creating a strong company culture. A March 24, 2015 Inc. article by Ananya Bhattacharya listed “The 5 Best Tony Hsieh Quotes on Company Culture”: (1) Surround yourself with the right people, (2) Leadership is not dictatorship, (3) Your job should make you want to get out of bed, (4) Weed out the bad fits right away, and (5) Practice what you preach. I’ve no doubt there will be a renewed interest in his business philosophy and ideas.

Company News
I presented on Advances in Strategic Planning at the Minnesota Quality Conference sponsored by the Minnesota Section of the American Society for Quality on November 4, 2020 – it was a virtual event this year. There are several upcoming public SIS events: Shaping Organizational Culture webinar on December 17, 2020; Strategic Improvement Green Belt course starts December 21, 2020; Value Stream Leadership webinar on January 7, 2021; Network Analysis webinar on January 15, 2021; Strategic Improvement Black Belt course starts January 20, 2021; and the Exploratory Data Analysis webinar on January 29, 2021. The brochures are available on the PUBLIC SEMINARS page of this website.

Intriguing Reads
Roberta Carkeek Cheney stated in the book Sioux Winter Count: A 131-Year Calendar of Events: “Winter counts were the historical calendars of the Sioux.” I re-read this book every year because of its simple and profound message. The “calendar” was maintained by the tribe historian according to Cheney: “This chosen historian had learned the story of each event from his father and his grandfather, who in most cases had been the historians before him. Now it became his responsibility to help choose an important event each year and to represent it with a drawing on the [buffalo] hide. It was also the historian’s duty to interpret the drawings for anyone who had need of the record, and to teach the people in his tribe their history by means of the winter count. The original [buffalo] skin remained in the possession of the historian, but it could be copied if another member of the group wanted one for more ready reference.” What will be the drawing on your personal “hide” and your organization’s “hide” for 2020?

Newsletter – November, 2020

On My Mind
The 40th Annual Conference of the Strategic Management Society was supposed to take place in London this year, but it ended up being a virtual event and it was exceptional. I attended the event in-person last year in Minneapolis, MN. Learning workshops associated with the conference were spread-out over two weeks with the main conference events taking place October 26-30, 2020. I viewed live roughly thirty presentations by scholars on their leading-edge research and also viewed live the plenary presentation each day. There were two plenary sessions that I thought were exceptional. One was on Strategy in Digital Times: How Microsoft Overcame Disruption involving three panelists: Marco Iansiti of Harvard University, Michael G. Jacobides of the London Business School, and Takeshi Numoto of the Microsoft Corporation. The second was The Anatomy of a Disruptor involving four panelists: Will Mitchell of the University of Toronto, George Stalk, Jr. of the Boston Consulting Group, Stephen Bungay of the Strategic Management Centre, and Arne Roock of Spotify. If you are interested in Strategy, then you might consider attending next year in Toronto from September 18-21, 2021.

Interesting Stories
Chess is regarded as one of the best games for developing a person’s critical thinking and strategy skills. A recent new series on Netflix called “The Queen’s Gambit” is getting a lot of attention and sparking a surge in interest in the game. The Netflix series is based on the book of the same title by Walter Tevis. The game of chess itself is a character in the series, but the fictional story is primarily about the remarkable journey of a young girl starting at age eight. The creators of the series strived to “get the chess right” by involving world class chess experts including Garry Kasparov—the former World Champion—and Bruce Pandolfini.

Company News
I presented on Advances in Strategic Planning at the Minnesota Quality Conference on November 4, 2020 – it was a virtual event. There are several upcoming public SIS events the remainder of 2020—the brochures are available on the PUBLIC SEMINARS page of this website.

Intriguing Reads
I re-read the book Writers on Strategy and Strategic Management: Theory and Practice at Enterprise, Corporate, Business and Functional Levels (2nd Edition) by J. I. Moore in preparation for the recent 40th Annual Conference of the Strategic Management Society. This is such a great book in that it introduces readers to the historic thought leaders in the Strategy field and describes their conceptual contributions. The chapters of the book are the following: The Shapers and Movers, The Consultants, The Scholars and Researchers, The Developers and Teachers, The Incrementalists, and Strategies for Decline: Endgames and Turnaround. This book is a “must read” if you are interested in increasing your familiarity with the important historic concepts and thought leaders in the Strategy field.

Newsletter – October, 2020

On My Mind
I’m happy to announce the publication of my research report on Shaping Organizational Culture: Abstract: The culture of an organization can potentially be a valuable asset or—for some organizations—a barrier to progress. Leadership Teams (LTs) sometimes attempt to shape their organizational culture to improve the performance of the organization. How can organizational culture be shaped? This research report discusses different perspectives on organizational culture, presents examples of organizational culture dimensions, describes how organizational culture can be measured and the performance visually displayed, and explains how an LT can start to shape its organizational culture through a portfolio of projects. Additionally, the current novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis provides a unique vantage point from which to view organizational culture. Some LTs have found it difficult to preserve their organizational culture because many employees are working from home and the number of face-to-face interactions has significantly decreased. Some other LTs now believe it is necessary to radically change their organizational culture to save the organization. Several organizational culture dimensions appear to be especially important during this pandemic such as safety, empathy, resiliency, adaptability, and creativity. These five organizational culture dimensions will be featured in an illustrative example. The research report is available on the “RESEARCH” page of this website.

Interesting Stories
I stop briefly at a small pond nearly every day during my power walk. One day last spring I noticed several painted turtles sunning themselves on the rocks that jut out of the surface of the water. The rocks make perfect sunning platforms for the turtles. Now during my roughly 1-minute stop I count the number of turtles that are sunning on the rocks. The counts look something like these numbers: 2, 1, 4, 0, 3, 1, 2, 0, 5, 3, 1, 2, 1, 3, etc. The Poisson distribution is a good probability model to describe this phenomenon and the data. The Poisson distribution is unique in that the mean (average) is equal to the variance. The mean seems to be “roughly equal to 2” in my turtle case. What will the data look like in the next few weeks? I know what the numbers will be in the winter.

Company News
I conducted the 12th Annual Advanced Strategic Improvement Practices Conference on September 30, 2020 on the Zoom platform. “Thank you” to all who participated in the event. I’m grateful to the following people for their excellent presentations: Laura Grunloh of the MN DNR; Molly Steffen of Allina Health; Dr. Andy Van de Ven of the Carlson School of Management; Dr. Kim Wernsing of the MN DHS Direct Care & Treatment; Eric Gamble of IBM and Wake Forest University; Vicki Amon-Higa of Amon-Higa & Associates; and Vern Campbell of Process Management and the University of Manitoba. There are several public SIS events in October and November—the brochures are available on the PUBLIC SEMINARS page of this website.

Intriguing Reads
Toyota—and some other organizations—are influenced by ka-kun. Sasaki et al. (2020) conducted research on ka-kun in Japanese family businesses: “In Japan, these values and guidelines are known as ka-kun, which can be loosely translated as ‘family mottos,’ and include principles, rules and instructions left by past leaders (including founders) to their successors.” The authors further stated: “Theoretically, ka-kun can be viewed as strategic identify statements—strategy documents espousing the mission, values, or philosophy of the organization.” Toyota has ka-kun in the form of The Five Main Principles Of Toyoda. Check-out this great paper – Reference: Sasaki, I., Kotlar J., Ravasi, D., & Vaara, E., (2020), Dealing with Revered Past: Historical Identity Statements and Strategic Change in Japanese Family Firms, Strategic Management Journal, 41(3), PP. 590-623.

Newsletter – September, 2020

On My Mind
Top Management Teams (TMTs) are facing a number of organizational culture challenges during this pandemic: many employees are working from home—sometimes in inadequate work spaces with numerous distractions; many employees are feeling stress and anxiety; some employees feel isolated; employee are asked to quickly learn new work procedures and processes; and some employees are concerned about the survival of their organization. What can TMTs due to unify the members of the organization? My research years ago on Horizontal Interaction During Strategic Improvement Initiatives identified five meta-linking mechanisms: focuses, information, conceptual aids, standardized elements, and principles. These mechanisms can serve to unify, align, and develop cohesion amongst the members of an organization—i.e., they are effective ways to get everyone on the same page. Best wishes with your organizational culture during these trying times.

Interesting Stories
There was once a professor named Dr. Felix Harrison Hsia in the Economics Department at South Dakota State University (SDSU) who taught Statistics and Macroeconomics. Dr. Hsia passed away several years ago after a long-lived life. Many students evaded his courses because of the perceived rigor—instead opting for an “easier” instructor. Contrary to some of my peers at SDSU, I took all the courses I could from Dr. Hsia because of his high expectations, humble manner, straight-forward teaching style, and profound insights. Needless to say, he affected my career trajectory in a wonderful way. Sometimes the easiest path is not the best path. Best wishes to the students and teachers who are beginning the new school year.

Company News
I conducted three Zoom webinars in August: Creating a Performance Scorecard on August 14, 2020; Regression Analysis on August 21, 2020; and Shaping Organizational Culture on August 28, 2020. Several public events are scheduled in the next few weeks: webinar on Leading in a COVID-19 World on September 3; virtual course on Strategic Improvement Yellow Belt on September 14 and September 21; webinar on Strategy Tools on September 25; and the 12th Annual Advanced Strategic Improvement Practices Conference on September 30, 2020. The brochures are available on the PUBLIC SEMINARS page of this website. I’ll also be an exhibitor again this year for PENworks on September 23, 2020 sponsored by the Performance Excellence Network.

Intriguing Reads
I went back through the classic text Applied Regression Analysis (3rd Edition) by Norman R. Draper and Harry Smith in preparation for my August 21, 2020 webinar on Regression Analysis. I had the good fortune of taking multiple courses from Dr. Draper during my doctoral studies at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Regression analysis is a fundamental statistical technique used in data science (big data analytics). I especially liked their explanation of (1) how matrix algebra can be used in regression analysis and (2) how one can conduct a residual analysis to evaluate the effectiveness of a regression model.

Newsletter – August, 2020

On My Mind
Top Management Teams (TMTs) often want to improve organizational performance from a strategic perspective and shaping organizational culture is one approach. COVID-19 has threatened the survival and prosperity of many organizations. How can organizations survive and prosper in a pandemic world? Several organizational culture dimensions appear to be important: safety, empathy, resiliency, adaptability, and creativity. The safety of employees and customers is now (finally) a number one priority and even a workstyle. Empathy is important in order to be able to relate to those who have suffered and/or are suffering. Resiliency is important in order to bounce back from setbacks. Adaptability is important since we have to cope with so many changes in the workplace. Finally, creativity is important in order to generate new ideas for products/services, processes, protocols, etc. Best wishes as you shape your organizational culture for survival and prosperity in a pandemic world.

Interesting Stories
Carlos Ghosn went from being one of the most admired and respected Chief Executive Officers (Nissan-Renault) in the world to being a fugitive. Ghosn was under house arrest in Japan until he concocted a special ops-type mission which involved him being smuggled out of Japan aboard a plane while hiding in a large trunk. A covert team was enlisted to execute the mission and Ghosn traveled through parts of Japan to Turkey to Beirut, Lebanon where he is believed to be currently living. His home in Beirut was recently damaged by the explosions, but he was apparently unharmed. The YouTube video titled “Inside Carlos Ghosn’s Unbelievable, Daring Escape” tells the tale if you are interested.

Company News
I conducted five Zoom webinars in June: Value Stream Leadership on July 7; Creating Standard Work on July 10; Ideation and Creativity Techniques on July 17, 2020; Visioning on July 24, 2020; and Advances in Strategic Planning on July 31, 2020. Several public events are scheduled in the next few weeks: Webinar on Leading in a COVID-19 World on August 10; Webinar on Creating a Performance Scorecard on August 14; Virtual Course on Strategic Improvement Yellow Belt on August 18 and August 25; Webinar on Regression Analysis on August 21; and Webinar on Shaping Organizational Culture on August 28, 2020. The webinar and course brochures are available on the PUBLIC SEMINARS page of this website.

Intriguing Reads
I re-read the book titled “The Sacred Pipe: Black Elk’s Account of the Seven Rites” of the Oglala Sioux by Joseph Epes Brown in preparation for the Visioning webinar I conducted on July 24, 2020. The book always inspires me and leaves me with profound new insights. I especially enjoy Chapter 3 on The Rite of Purification and Chapter 4 on Crying for a Vision. If you ever need to do some visioning for yourself or for your organization, then you might give those two chapters a try.

Newsletter – July, 2020

On My Mind
What are some “To Dos” now for leaders of organizations on the backside (fingers crossed) of the pandemic peak? Here are five actions to consider: (1) Revisit the organization’s mission, philosophy, values, and vision to see if they still make sense, (2) Conduct a Strategy Reboot session for course corrections if necessary, (3) Conduct some Voice of the Customer analyses to learn how customer needs have changed – especially concerning health and safety, (4) Engage employees to redesign workplace policies, procedures, practices, and layouts to assure employees remain healthy and safe, and (5) Create a safe and open environment for discussions to occur – employees probably have a lot on their minds given social unrest and COVID-19. Best wishes as you lead in a pandemic world.

Interesting Stories
“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” I’m not certain of the original source of this famous quote, but the central idea can be traced back to the philosopher George Berkely. Once upon a time there was a professional baseball league called Major League Baseball (MLB). If an MLB game is played in 2020 and there are no fans there to witness the game due to COVID-19, will it count? Apparently, yes! The MLB schedule has been released for the thirty clubs – each will play sixty regular season games. We’ll see if the season goes as planned and if any fans will ever be allowed to attend games. The statistical records that are broken this year will probably have an asterisk (“*”) next to them.

Company News
I conducted three Zoom webinars in June: Customer Segmentation on June 12, Timeless Quality Concepts on June 19, and Time Series Performance Analysis on June 25, 2020. Five public Zoom webinars are scheduled for July: Value Stream Leadership on July 7; Creating Standard Work on July 10; Ideation & Creativity Techniques on July 17; Visioning on July 24, 2020; Advances in Strategic Planning on July 31, 2020; and Leading in a COVID-19 World. The next Strategic Improvement Systems, LLC public courses are the following: Small Business Strategic Planning will be held July 22, 2020; Strategic Improvement Green Belt starts August 4, 2020; and Strategic Improvement Black Belt starts August 11, 2020. The webinar and course brochures are available on the PUBLIC SEMINARS page of this website.

Intriguing Reads
I’m using Apple as one of the four case studies for my current research project on Shaping Organizational Culture. I discovered a great book during my literature search titled, Creative Selection: Inside Apple’s Design Process During the Golden Age of Steve Jobs by Ken Kocienda. He is a former Principal Engineer of iPhone Software at Apple. The author provides personal, in-depth stories and accounts of his experience as an engineer at Apple and how the Apple design process worked during the time of his employ. I especially liked the detailed description of the “demo” concept and demo reviews. If you want a great book on the Apple design philosophy and process, then this is the book for you.

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.

Newsletter – May, 2020

On My Mind
I’ve studied many of the COVID-19 models lately . . . and I vividly recall Dr. George E. P. Box say many times – “All models are wrong, but some are useful.” His words of wisdom are still relevant today. On another note . . . one challenge for many organizational leaders on the backside of the current crisis will be to create a growth-oriented/optimistic mindset amongst employees. This will be difficult because of the trauma experienced by many employees and remnant feelings of stress, fear, and anxiety. There will also be modified or new business models to consider. The world will be different. Change will be required . . . and I hope your organization is adaptable.

Interesting Stories
Warren Buffett (89 years old), the Chairman of the Board and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway (BH), conducted the BH Annual Meeting on May 2, 2020. It was broadcast live on Yahoo! Finance. Buffett—who is known as The “Oracle” or “Sage” of Omaha—usually conducts the meeting with Charlie Munger (the Vice Chairman of BH; 96 years old) in front of thousands of people in a packed Omaha arena, but I think there were less than 100 people allowed in the arena this year due to the COVID-19 situation. Charlie did not attend this year because he lives on the West Coast and so Warren was joined on stage by Greg Abel who is the Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Energy and Vice Chairman of Non-Insurance Operations of Berkshire Hathaway. The entire 5+ hour meeting (including pre- and post-meeting coverage) is available on YouTube. My favorite part was Warren’s opening tour de force lecture on the history of the U.S. from an economic perspective from 1789 to the present. His compelling conclusion: “Never bet against America.”

Company News
I attended video conferencing sessions sponsored by the Strategic Management Society, MinneAnalytics, and the SouthWest Metro Chamber of Conference. 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. In addition, there will be a webinar (Zoom) series which will begin May 22, 2020. The course and webinar brochures will be available mid-May on the PUBLIC SEMINARS page of this website.

Intriguing Reads
I re-read Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis (2nd Ed.) by Graham Allison and Philip Zelikow. Many organizations are in crisis mode now and this is one of the classic texts on crisis analytical tools. I especially like the book because the authors show how perspective-based models and scenario analysis can be used to interpret and explain historic events. I’ve also re-read Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind (2nd Ed.) by Geert Hofstede and Gert Jan Hofstede – one of the classic books on organizational culture. Surprisingly, my favorite chapter is Chapter One: Introduction: The Rules of the Social Game because the authors skillfully define organizational culture and present various useful culture models and frameworks.

Newsletter – April, 2020

On My Mind: What is on my mind is probably on your mind . . . COVID-19. How quickly our world can change forcing us to totally re-think nearly every aspect of our personal life and the lives of organizations. Leadership Teams are rapidly responding to the emergent COVID-19 issue: stress testing, contingency planning, scenario planning, statistical analysis, financial modeling, etc. Some dreams have been dashed, some lives ruined, and sadly, some lives have been lost. The strange and cruel aspect of COVID-19 is how quickly it became an invisible global threat. I wrote about Flexible Policy Deployment (Hoshin Kanri) in my 2012 paper on The Application of Policy Deployment in Indian Companies (see Pages 6-7). The paper is available on the RESEARCH page of this website. That content is especially relevant now. There were seven organizational capabilities that I mentioned: (1) Be prepared for imaginable and unimaginable events, (2) Be aware of what is happening in the world, (3) Be able to detect emergent events, (4) Be able to diagnose the situation quickly and take immediate action (Check-Act), (5) Be able to communicate quickly, (6) Be able to make Policy Deployment changes quickly, and (7) Be able to rapidly conduct PDCA cycles throughout the company. Best wishes as you and the organizations you are associated with battle COVID-19. Interesting Stories: I’ve heard so many touching and inspiring stories this past month and also some stories of descipable human behavior. Here are some broad themes: heroic acts, sad goodbyes, fortunes lost, rays of hope, strengthening of family bonds, and profiteering. We each can author our own life story throughout this crisis and on the backside. I hope that yours has a happy ending. Company News: I presented on Big Data Analytics for Mobile Products at the joint Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) meeting at the Edina Library on March 10, 2020. The next Strategic Improvement Systems, LLC public courses are tentatively the following: Strategic Improvement Black Belt starts April 7, 2020 (distance learning); Strategic Improvement Green Belt starts May 4, 2020 (this course might shift into June or later); and Introduction to Multivariate Data Analysis which will be held May 21, 2020. The course brochures are available on the PUBLIC SEMINARS page of this website. Intriguing Reads: I recently re-read several classic books because of their relevancy given COVID-19. The novel The Plague by Albert Camus provides a glimpse into the stages of an epidemic from the twin perspectives of human emotions and philosophy. The novel The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton is a spellbinding novel with a heavy science perspective. The story is about how a team of scientists battle an extraterrestrial organism. The book Implanting Strategic Management by H. Igor Ansoff discusses many valuable topics including surpriseful changes, weak signals, strategic issue management, and how the use of filters can affect our decision making. Lastly, the book The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb is essential reading during the current crisis. The author explains rare events, how to interpret them, how to respond to them, and how to prepare for future ones. I especially enjoyed the Glossary and Notes sections in the back of the book.

Newsletter – March, 2020

On My Mind: The coronavirus (COVID-19) has rapidly spread and is now disrupting many lives, businesses, markets, and economies throughout the world. This emergent issue is causing many organizations to conduct rapid response (crisis) planning which is an important organizational capability along with annual strategic planning. One silver lining in this dark cloud story is that we will learn more about viruses, how they spread, and the most effective and efficient strategies for minimizing their effect. COVID-19 is a good reminder that we must always be prepared for Black Swan events and pay close attention to what is happening elsewhere in the world. Interesting Stories: Some of the most exciting work in my career as a management consultant occurred during the four years I worked with General Electric (GE). GE was led by Jack Welch at the time and although I didn’t agree with all of his business practices, he was a charismatic leader who had extremely high expectations and aspirations. One couple I worked with named their son after Jack. Sadly, Jack Welch passed away recently at the age of 84. On a different topic, numbers matter—at least if you are an avid Major League Baseball (MLB) fan like me. Statistics play an important role in determining who is inducted in the MLB Hall of Fame. I follow MLB for two reasons: I love the game and MLB is one of the most mature industries for big data analytics. Numerous instances of cheating have occurred over the years which have damaged the integrity of the game and the statistics. For example, players betting on games, spitballs, pine tar on bats, corks in bats, steroids, and now the illegal use of video cameras and the banging of garbage cans. The Houston Astros organization is the latest culprit in damaging the integrity of the game. Astros players were granted immunity in return for their testimonies on the cheating scheme which occurred during multiple seasons including the 2017 season when the Astros won the World Series. The General Manager and Manager were fired. The Astros players have been deservedly booed and jeered in Spring Training games. I might pull back from MLB this year and watch more college baseball games. Company News: I will be presenting on Big Data Analytics for Mobile Products at the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) meeting 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. Strategy Techniques & Tools in conjunction with the Performance Excellence Network (PEN) will be held June 3, 2020. The brochure will be available in late March. Intriguing Reads: Most organizations now have plenty of data. What does it mean? The relatively new book by Lorien Pratt titled, Link: How Decision Intelligence Connects Data, Actions, and Outcomes for a Better World helps answer this question. The author deftly makes complex decision intelligence ideas simple and provides practical suggestions for how we can frame and make better decisions using data. I especially liked Chapter 4 on How to Build Decision Models and the 58 Key Insights.