Category Archives: UK

George Box

I would most likely not exist if it were not for George Box. My father took a course from George while my father was a student at Princeton. George agreed to start the Statistics Department at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and my father followed him to Madison, to be the first PhD student. Dad graduated, and the next year was a professor there, where he and George remained for the rest of their careers.

George died today, he was born in 1919. He recently completed An Accidental Statistician: The Life and Memories of George E. P. Box which is an excellent book that captures his great ability to tell stories. It is a wonderful read for anyone interested in statistics and management improvement or just great stories of an interesting life.

photo of George EP Box

George Box by Brent Nicastro.

George Box was a fantastic statistician. I am not the person to judge, but from what I have read one of the handful of most important applied statisticians of the last 100 years. His contributions are enormous. Several well know statistical methods are known by his name, including:

George was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1974 and a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1979. He also served as president of the American Statistics Association in 1978. George is also an honorary member of ASQ.

George was a very kind, caring and fun person. He was a gifted storyteller and writer. He had the ability to present ideas so they were easy to comprehend and appreciate. While his writing was great, seeing him in person added so much more. Growing up I was able to enjoy his stories often, at our house or his. The last time I was in Madison, my brother and I visited with him and again listened to his marvelous stories about Carl Pearson, Ronald Fisher and so much more. He was one those special people that made you very happy whenever you were near him.

George Box, Stuart Hunter and Bill Hunter (my father) wrote what has become a classic text for experimenters in scientific and business circles, Statistics for Experimenters. I am biased but I think this is acknowledged as one of (if not the) most important books on design of experiments.

George also wrote other classic books: Time series analysis: Forecasting and control (1979, with Gwilym Jenkins) and Bayesian inference in statistical analysis. (1973, with George C. Tiao).

George Box and Bill Hunter co-founded the Center for Quality and Productivity Improvement at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1984. The Center develops, advances and communicates quality improvement methods and ideas.

The Box Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Industrial Statistics recognizes development and the application of statistical methods in European business and industry in his honor.

All models are wrong but some are useful” is likely his most famous quote. More quotes By George Box

A few selected articles and reports by George Box

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Overview of 5 Nations Health Care Systems

PBS presents a very nice overview of the heath care systems in Japan, United Kingdom, Germany, Taiwan and Switzerland in: Sick Around the World. It is a just a surface view of the overall system but even so does a good job of providing more understanding of the options available to fix the failed system in the USA. The US system costs over 50% more than others and has worse outcome measures than the alternatives (and leaves many without any coverage). And while the alternatives are not perfect the defenders of the status quo make claims about the alternatives are not accurate.

Table combines data from my previous post, International Health Care System Performance, and the PBS website:

Australia Canada Germany Japan Netherlands New Zealand Switzerland Taiwan UK USA
National health spending – Percent of GDP 9.5% 9.8% 10.7% 8.0% 9.2% 9.0% 11.6% 6.3% 8.3% 16.0%
Percent uninsured 0 0 <1 <2 0 0 16

Switzerland, spending 11.6% of GDP on health care, is the 2nd most expensive in the world.

Related: USA Spent $2.1 Trillion on Health Care in 2006Measuring the Health of Nations (USA ranks 19th of 19 nations studied)Drug Prices in the USAUSA Health Care Costs 16% of GDP (2006)Deadly Diseases of Western Management5 Million Lives Campaign

Lean Manufacturing Saving Jobs Again

Lean manufacturing saving jobs

Keiper Automotive has slashed more than $2 million in costs and saved 100 jobs from layoff — all by reducing waste. Bob Cook, plant manager at the Scanlan Street auto parts manufacturer, hosted a lean manufacturing session at the plant yesterday where 10 manufacturers from different sectors learned first-hand how to cut waste, and what an impact it can have.

“This is not about a reduction in the workforce, it is about reducing waste in the system,” Cook said. “There is a lot to be gained . . . and it is really just common sense.” The lean manufacturing session got its start in November at a mayor’s roundtable on advanced manufacturing. When the issue of cutting waste arose, Cook volunteered to lead a session and the London Economic Development Corp. organized it.

“This information is not proprietary. If these people take it back to their plants and expand on it, we all gain,” Cook said.

A number of great points, including:

Related: Manufacturing JobsLean Thinking MisconceptionLean Manufacturing Resources

Measuring the Health of Nations

Measuring the Health of Nations: Updating an Earlier Analysis

In a Commonwealth Fund-supported study comparing preventable deaths in 19 industrialized countries, researchers found that the United States placed last. While the other nations improved dramatically between the two study periods (1997–98 and 2002–03) the U.S. improved only slightly on the measure.

Rankings: 1) France 2) Japan 3) Australia 4) Spain 5) Italy 6) Canada… 18) Portugal 19) USA. Maybe the United States is last but still not significantly behind?

According to the authors, if the U.S. had been able reduce amenable mortality to the average rate achieved by the three top-performing countries, there would have been 101,000 fewer deaths annually by the end of the study period.

It might seem like a stretch to compare the lowest ranked country to the average of the top 3, but, for all those that feel the USA is the best health care system it raises the questions of why they don’t think 100,000 annual deaths is a significant enough problem to lower their opinion of the current system. And remember the USA system costs something like twice as much as the average system: up to 16% of GNP in 2006.

I must say I would rather have the Toyota mindset shown by those talking about the USA health system instead of the claims of how the current USA health system is number 1. In Toyota’s horrible last year they still had a profit of about $14 billion (I believe something like 20 companies have every made that much). The United States health system sure has some things to point to positively but the system seems to be losing ground to the rest of the world more and more quickly while many cling to a belief it is the best system around.

Related: Evidence-based Managementposts on improving health careImproving Hospital Performancearticles on improvement health careBest Research University RankingsTop 10 Manufacturing CountriesDr. Deming’s Seven Deadly Diseases of Western Management

Better Manufacturing in UK

My design for better manufacturing in UK [the broken link was removed] by James Dyson:

The way forward is to make things that are better designed, better engineered and with better technology than our competitors’ products. This is the blueprint for 21st-century success embraced by Japan. It is why Japan makes six times as many patent applications as Britain and spends three times as much on research and development. The Japanese government is about to spend £128 billion on research and development. The figure in Britain is £1 billion.

He at least partially gets the idea. I think he could benefit from studying and exploring the Toyota Production System – perhaps he could attend the seminars by Toyota UK. Still he is encouraging some of the right stuff, and the innovative engineering school he is half funding seems like a very good idea.
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Another Article on Lean UK Hospitals

Country to follow the hospital’s ‘lean’ lead by Jane Lavender:

Since the introduction of lean thinking, the length of time it takes a patient to get from the accident and emergency to the operating theatre has been reduced by 38 per cent. Paper work has been cut by 42 per cent and the total time patients spend in hospital has been slashed by 32 per cent.

The article also says “Nine months ago the hospital became one of only six in the world” which I don’t think is accurate. I think far more have been applying lean thinking for quite some time. Still this article is another example of the “buzz” around lean thinking.

Posts on lean thinking and lean manufacturing
Posts on improving the heath care system

Seminars by Toyota UK

‘Increasing quality, efficiency and profitability via A Lean Approach’ is a series of six one day tour, seminar and workshop events at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing (UK) plant in Burnaston, Derbyshire that focuses on the Toyota Production System (TPS) and Quality Management.

Guests can choose from three workshops, HRM, Visual Control or Practical Problem Solving, and take part in a Q&A session with the speakers: Hein Van Gerwen, Managing Director; Carl Klemm, Deputy Managing Director; Clive Bridge, Corporate Affairs Director and Richard Humbert, Quality Assurance General Manager, all from Toyota Motor Manufacturing (UK).

The event is free. Donations of £1,000 to the NSPCC are recommended.

Looks like a great opportunity [the broken link was removed].

via: Evolving Excellence

Lean National Health System

A presentation today, Lean Thinking For the NHS, by Dan Jones is getting press coverage in England.NHS should embrace lean times:

The improvements came through examining the patient’s whole experience, and removing the sometimes-fatal delays in getting them into the operating theatre, such as creating a faster process for radiology and removing unnecessary paperwork.These changes also lessen staff frustrations by allowing them to spend more time helping patients. Also, by cutting length of stay and complications, costs should also start to fall, although Mr Fillingham – former director of the NHS Modernisation Agency – said it will take several years for the savings to become substantial.

This is an example of focusing on improving the system which will then result in improved measures (cost savings for example). This systems approach contrasts with cutting costs by cutting every budget by 5% across the board which often fails. Without improvements in the system reducing budgets just reduces capability.

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What Innovation Means to Tesco

What innovation means to Tesco [the broken link was removed] by Sir Terry Leahy (Chief Executive of Tesco):

Innovators are all around us; innovation is after all just another word for an idea and we can all have those. Businesses must learn to harness the creativity of their workforce and encourage staff to come forward with ideas. It’s not always easy as some good ideas will fail but companies have to be comfortable with that if they are to avoid stifling innovation.

Lean Thinking in Scotland

The man who would save Scottish industry [the broken link was removed] by Terry Murden

Ross says: “Lean thinking can be applied to almost any process, but the key is the involvement of those who actually do the work. I passionately believe that companies, councils and the NHS can make major improvements across all their key measures once they learn how to involve their staff in the elimination of wasted time.”

The article offers few details but is another example of “lean” ideas being voiced in the popular media.

Warwick Business School is due to publish the results of a survey in early summer into the effects of employing kaizen and lean principles into the public sector. It will include an analysis of the work at Aberdeenshire Council.

This report might provide some details on lean government.