Thursday, April 28, 2005

Call for Papers - Deming Research Seminar

Topic: Management Improvement

Call for Papers

12th Annual Research Seminar
The W. Edwards Deming Institute and Fordham University
13-14 February 2006
New York City

Papers that link Dr. Deming’s work to the academic literature or to the works of other great thinkers are particularly sought, as are papers that extend or expand Dr. Deming’s work, and those that describe applications of Dr. Deming’s management ideas in organizations.

The Annual Research Seminar brings together people from around the world, and from a variety of specialties, to develop an understanding of Dr. Deming’s theories in a wide-ranging context. View a list of topics and speakers from the last Research Seminar.

To be considered, papers must be original work. Proposals of 200 words or less should be sent by 3 October 2005. Find more information about submitting a paper.

Deming Links:

Friday, April 22, 2005

10 stocks for 10 years

Topic: Investment

I decided to look at selecting a portfolio of stocks I would be comfortable putting into an IRA for 10 years. My main criteria was companies with a history of large positive cash flow (that seemed likely to continue that trend).

The 10 stocks I came up with are (closing price on 22 April 2005 - % of portofilo invested):
  • Templeton Dragon Fund (TDF - 16.40 - 16%) - a closed end mutual fund investing in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore... This one doesn't fit the criteria but does a great job of filling out the portfolio in my opinion.
  • Dell (DELL - 36.43 - 12%)
  • Toyota (TM - 72.42 - 12%)
  • Google (GOOG - 215.81 - 12%)
  • Pfizer (PFE - 27.22 - 8%)
  • Amazon (AMZN - 33.04 - 8%) They are only just starting to generate cash but I like their prospects.
  • Intel (INTC - 23.24 - 8%)
  • Petro China (PTR - 61.68 - 8%) Investing in PTR is based on the potential for China, the prospects for oil over the next 10-20 years and Warren Buffet's ownership of the stock.
  • Cisco (CSCO - 17.43 - 8%)
  • First Data (FDC - 37.48 - 8%)
Thankfully I don't have to staying locked into decisions for 10 years. But, if I had to, this is a portfolio I would feel comfortable with today. It is overweighted on technology (which is another reason for including Petro China). Templeton Dragon Fund also provides a nice counter weight to all the technology. I would like to have a higher exposure to heath care, but I couldn't find the stocks that seemed equal to those above.

I have been using marketocracy, since 2001, to manage a portfolio of stocks (marketocracy does a great job of tracking performance for you which I find quite convenient). This year my fund has suffered. At the beginning of this year the Darvamore Fund has exceeded the S&P 500 by over 10% annually on average). This year however the fund's overall performance results have been reduced to just 5.5% over the S&P 500 annually. Hopefully that trend will turn around soon.

Read more:

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Beginning of the End of Housing Bubble?

Topic: Economics - Investing

re: Beginning of the End of Housing Bubble? - Dan Gilmor blog post

I doubt we are at the end of the bubble. However, financial bubbles are very difficult to time. My guess is the bubble will continue for over a year for most, if not all locations in the USA. And unless the bubble continues and prices reach levels much higher than they are now, the end of the bubble will not be dramatic decline of prices (say an drop in prices of over 25%) in most locations. Manhattan (with historically very volatile prices) and certain other locations will likely have dramatic declines. But overall the real estate market will slow down (fewer sales) greatly and may experience say a 5 year period where prices decline slightly (or increase slightly). Real Estate normally does not behave the same way the stock market does when a bubble breaks, but we will see what actually happens.

The risk of stagflation, while real, is small, I believe. The huge trade deficit, large unfunded liabilities (Social Security) and huge federal budget deficients are likely to cause problems. However I believe these problems will more likely result in long term slow degradation of the standard of living in the USA instead of a dramatic break of the sort that could result in stagflation.

The decrease in the standard of living due to these forces could well be masked by other forces that increase the standard of living. So the inevitable cost of us now living beyond our means (passing the bills on to our children and grandchildren) can be ignored fairly easily. It is not a good approach but it is likely the one we will continue to practice. A recession is much more likely than stagflation.

Real Estate articles:

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Management Improvement Articles

Topic: Management - Library Articles

Recent additions to the Curious Cat Management Improvement Library include:

  • Six Sigma and Kaizen Compared by Raphael L. Vitalo
  • Deming Retrospective Inputs by Gerry Hahn
  • Bringing Lean Systems Thinking to Six Sigma by Paul Mullenhour and Jamie Flinchbaugh
  • Risk Management during Requirements by Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister
  • Innovation Now! by Gary Hamel

Find links to these, and other new additions, on the Curious Cat Management Improvement New Articles Page or search for management improvement articles.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Performance without Appraisal

Topic: Management Improvement

re: Managing with Trust post from Coding Horror

This interesting post includes the quote:
"It seems cheap to dispatch [performance reviews] without suggesting some alternative."
Dr. Deming would mention Peter Scholtes thoughts on why performance appraisals were bad management when asked about his belief that performance appraisals should be eliminated. In the short article Performance Without Appraisal: What to do Instead of Performance Appraisals, Peter wrote:
Dr. Deming said of Performance Appraisals, "Stop doing them and things will get better." He was correct. Many organizations, however, wonder what to do instead.
For those that do require "some alternative" Peter included some good ideas in The Leader's Handbook(see chapter 9 "Performance without Appraisal pages 293 to 368). This chapter has excellent material for any manager. In the interest of full disclosure I not only think Peter's ideas are great I consider him a friend and host his web site (he is retired).

Abolishing Performance Appraisals: Why They Backfire and What to Do Instead by Tom Coens, Mary Jenkins (forward by Peter Block), 2000, is another excellent source of "what to do instead."

I think the Managing with Trust post has some good ideas but I don't agree with everything. "In order to manage a project, you have to objectively measure what your teammates are doing." I don't agree with this quote. I agree you must manage a project and "that trusting your team is not a substitute for managing them." However a manager must manage many unmeasurable factors. The stuff that can be measured is the easy part. The largest part of the job is managing the things that are unmeasurable.

Deming explores the idea of rating people on page 109 of Out of the Crisis and states "fair rating is impossible." He goes on to explore what is commonly known as the "red bead experiment" where he shows an example of how easy it is to assign numbers to people to aid in managing. But the experiment actually shows how easy it is to be distracted by numbers instead of actually managing. It is easier to make decisions based just on the numbers you have than to take on the challenging task of managing. And to help this process along it is easier to reduce employees to simple numbers (ratings or rankings) than to deal with the complexity and interdependence that actually exists.

The Managing with Trust post also mentions Tom Demarco. I am in the midst of reading the second edition of Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams by Tom Demarco, Timothy Lister and it is an excellent book.