Friday, November 10, 2023
Thursday, August 05, 2021
Comments on Becoming Trustworthy
After years of seeing this “irrational” behavior in managers, co-workers and consultants I realized it is usually not irrational, just hard to comprehend.
I think that the primary thing to
remember is that often people's actions and decisions are guided by
psychology rather than thoughtful deliberation and choosing the most
sensible option (given that person's desires). What this means is you
can't expect rational decision making to guide others decisions and
actions. You are often better understanding common psychology and how
that impacts decision making.
If you are intending to understand them then this is often more useful. And if you are attempting to change behavior to improve results often you need to understand not the psychology that will help people change much more than the logic behind what is the most rational decision based on the facts in this case and the individual's desires.
There are times when you think a decision was irrational but you were mistaken. The person does have rational reasons that were responsible for the decision they made. Even in a case where a person has went through a rational decision making process but made an error and chose an alternative that did not result in what they imagined it would I think you can call that a rational choice.
But I think much more often (even for business
decisions) there was no rational decision making. They may have made the
choice mainly out of fear (which I would see as different than taking
into account the risks and deciding that they wanted to avoid the risk
even if it meant the business would suffer because they personally would
avoid risk). Or they may have just said no because they don't like
change (which again is different than choosing to say no because the
costs of change when rationally weighed against the possible benefits
are not worth it). Etc. There is a big difference I think in believing
people are making rational choice and believing that most often people
do not do so, they are guiding by unconscious decision making factors
that they don't understand and did not evaluate in coming to the
decision they did).
There are 2 reasons this is important: first you are likely making decisions this way and can improve your decision making by understanding how you are making decisions. And second if you are trying to influence others understanding how they make decisions is important.
Thinking about these, and related ideas, is valuable. Even when people disagree I think this is a valuable process.
Sunday, May 30, 2021
Response to: What Does Work/Life Balance Mean to You?
did a great job with work/life balance by integrating work with life to
an extent that most people do not. Instead of the typical what I do for
work requires sacrificing "life" he built a life where what he did for
work enhanced life. He was a professor and worked for a year in London a
year in Singapore and a year in Nigeria. The life experiences that
having work and excelling at work to the extent that he could arrange
such options provide a much richer life than if he maximized life by
restricting his effort in work. We had experiences that are invaluable
I realize doing this to the extent he did is very difficult. But growing up with it I learned that the idea that you could design the whole life (including everything) to maximize life. And that it may well be that extra effort at work rather than detracting from the rest of life enhances it. For me the key is to focus on maximizing the whole and within that realizing sometimes there are tradeoff (essentially a zero sum game) but there may well be times when you can design the system of your life to find win win solutions.
I wrote about this on my blog The Aim Should be the Best Life – Not Work v. Life Balance
Friday, February 07, 2020
After doing some research I learned that humidifiers have helped folks snore less. So, after some more research, I picked up a slick little ultrasonic humidifier and gave it a try. Now, it’s been less than a week which I know isn’t enough to get too excited about statistically speaking. But one thing is becoming crystal clear…it’s most definitely helping me sleep better.
Interesting post, which includes control charts showing the impressive progress.
"I’m also still trying to figure out what caused the three special cause signals in January." One nice aspect of improvement is sometimes you can make a system improvement that even without knowing the causes of previous problems, the new improvement stops those from happening again. Maybe that won't be the case this time but maybe it will. Health related issues are so touchy that I could imagine it is something like a couple bad factors stacked on top just push things over the limit. So being a bit tired and say too low humidity and you didn't drink quite enough liquid and sleep quality is bad but just 1 or 2 of those and it might be a bit worse but not horrible.
Special cause signals will be more frequent if several factors together amplify each other (and they rarely happen together so those amplified results are rare). What happens is those rare amplified events will be special, outside of the system that generates that regular variation when they act alone but when all that variation lines up just right the result will be outside what is normal (due to the very large change in the result for that special case where the individual factors acting together (amplifying) create a very large change in the result.
Related: Gadgets to Mask Noise and Help You Sleep or Concentrate - Apply Management Improvement Principles to Your Situation - Zeo Personal Sleep Manager - Using Control Chart to Understand Free Throw Shooting Results
Tuesday, October 08, 2019
Did you know that 1 in 4 Americans have student loan debt? In the United States, there are more than 44 million people who collectively owe $1.56 trillion in student loans.
I thought 25% seemed too high. Thankfully this post also provides the number, 44 million. The USA population is currently estimated at 330 million. 44 million is closer to 14% than 25%. My guess is that the 25% is of some subset of the USA population (people between certain ages maybe)?
I think a point about the importance of providing the proper context when showing data has also been made in this post. There is certainly a sensible argument for why 25% of certain ages is a more useful figure for understanding how widespread student debt is (rather than saying 14% those in the USA have student debt). But in the case where that decision is made the details should be spelled out.
Related: Operational Definitions and Data Collection - Data Can’t Lie (data can be wrong) - Poorly Stratified Data Leads to Mistakes in Analysis - Understanding Data
Thursday, March 07, 2019
Failure can be a great learning tool, especially if it is planned. Create an environment that supports and learns from failure, but also use the scientific method, coupled with experience, to understand and mitigate the risks.
I agree, I wrote about this on my blog: Accept Taking Risks, Don’t Blithely Accept Failure Though
The goal is to maximize innovation and improvement. To the extent we need to take risks and accept some failures to achieve this we should accept failure. But that doesn’t mean we don’t continually try to improve our management systems to reduce the costs of failure. Even while we take risks we want to do so intelligently.
It is true many organization are so fearful of being blamed for failure that sensible risks are avoided. We do need to create management systems that allow taking sensible risks but we need to learn while still limiting damage from failures. Do experiments on a small scale, iterate quickly and expand the scope as you learn.
Related posts: Learn by Seeking Knowledge, Not Just from Mistakes - Risks Should be Taken Wisely - What is the Explanation Going to be if This Attempt Fails?
Monday, February 04, 2019
I remember Russel Ackoff* telling a story about that 9 dots problem where his daughter shared a solution to cover the dots in 1 line. She folded the paper to the dots were all lined up and drew one line that went through all of them. The teacher said that was wrong! Great teaching about "outside the box" thinking there. But it is a great illustration that just saying "outside the box" isn't the same as adopting that mindset.
* It has been a long time, I might be be wrong but I think it was Ackoff that told that story.
Related: The Psychology of Change is Often the Trickiest Part of Process Improvement - Children are Amazingly Creative At Solving Problems - Innovation Strategy
Sunday, January 27, 2019
This is a great blog to follow [Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog] if you aren’t aware of it. I agree with John, in general, but in this post I felt the missed one basic thing that I’ve seen in my own career- software is not physical and people who write great software and people who make great physical things MUST think (and therefore be managed) differently. The crossover between Agile and Lean thinking, to me, is the ability to identify non-value added activity (waste) in the Toyota sense, and empower small teams to make decisions and charge forward in the Agile sense. Getting a combination of software and hardware thinking together will be the key to winning the Cloud Wars and moving into the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Thanks for your comments. I do agree that the system within which people are operating determines how they must be managed. There are definitely features of software development that are significantly different than manufacturing scalpels or basketballs or tables. As there is a difference between a surgical team in an operating room, road construction, mining, editing books, investment banking, manufacturing industrial robots, researching new drugs, manufacturing drugs, teaching in a university, maintaining plane engines, coaching an athletic team...
I see universal principles of management (respect for people, customer focus, continual improvement...) that cross all different human enterprises. How those principles should be manifest in a particular situations depend on the work being done, the management system that is in place, the individual people involved, the specific focus of the effort right now... The way those principles are manifest will look very different in all the varied types of organizations we create and the different work and processes used within those organizations.
It is interesting (on the software v not software divide) to note that 100 years ago what was manufactured didn't contain software elements. And the manufacturing process also didn't involve software. That isn't very often the case today. Think of all the manufactured things you use and a high percentage (measured by the cost of the manufactured goods) have software components (cars, phones, appliances, speakers...) and they are built with a great deal of software involved in the manufacturing process.
In addition, the sales process and other processes involved in the organization doing the manufacturing rely heavily on software. As you say "Getting a combination of software and hardware thinking together" is indeed key today and will be continue to be in the future. While relying on software as part of the manufacturing process (and in the supporting processes) isn't the same as developing software the thought process on how to use software within manufacturing systems and how that software should work, be adjusted... is very different from the work of manufacturing tires 100 years ago.
I also discuss related ideas in: Deming and Software Development.
Related posts: How to Manage What You Can’t Measure - Create a System That Lets People Take Pride in Their Work - Good Process Improvement Practices - The Importance of Management Improvement - Thinking Required, No Simple Management Recipe to Follow -Unpacking the Components of Hard Work to Design Better Work Conditions - Do We Need to Find Management Ideas from Our Industry? (No) - Avoiding Difficult Problems