Tag Archives: Brian Joiner

Conference Calls with Scholtes and Joiner

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne’s Enterprise Thinking Network Ongoing Discussion series this month features conference calls with Peter Scholtes (Thursday, September 25th, Noon to 2pm Pacific Time – USA) and Brian Joiner (Friday the 26th, Noon to 2pm Pacific Time – USA). See more details and register online.

Peter’s books (The Team Handbook and The Leader’s Handbook) are thought pieces for Thursday’s conversation with Peter. As a place to begin the conversation with Peter, we might consider the possibility that teamwork and leadership are perhaps even more in our awareness today than when Peter wrote these books. And if you’d like to explore more of Peter’s thinking and writing, see also a variety of articles and letters by and about Peter at his website.

Brian has offered us several Thought Pieces related to his current work. According to Brian, “The thing I am most excited about now is the Transition Towns movement which started in the UK a few years ago. It’s what I will be focusing on once the First Unitarian Society green building is effectively launched.” In addition, the following site gives a brief intro to the Transition Town approach, with much more detail on the Transition approach available in their Primer. Says Brian, “I hope this will be enough to start conversations.”

Both Brian and Peter are from Madison, Wisconsin (where I grew up) and both worked with my father: Bill Hunter. Brian Joiner also wrote Fourth Generation Management and co-authored the Team Handbook with Peter.

Related: Curious Cat Essential Management BooksBrain Joiner on Dr. DemingTotal Quality Leadership vs. Management by Control by Brian L. Joiner and Peter R. Scholtes

Targets Distorting the System

I still remember Dr. Brian Joiner speaking about process improvement and the role of data well over a decade ago. He spoke of 3 ways to improve the figures: distort the data, distort the system and improve the system. Improving the system is the most difficult.

There is an interesting article on the effects of distorting the system: Tony Blair says he will ensure NHS targets do not stop people from seeing their GPs when they want to, from BBC News.

The promise follows claims that some GPs’ surgeries are refusing to set appointments more than two days in advance because of the targets.

In order to make the data meet the targets the system is distorted to achieve the target, rather than to serve the customer.

From Peter Scholtes‘ article published in National Productivity Review in 1993, Total Quality or Performance Appraisal: Choose One:
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Brain Joiner on Dr. Deming

Topic: Management Improvement

The Spring 2005 MAQIN newsletter [link broken, so it was removed] includes an interesting piece on a recent MAQIN event where the life and work of Dr. W. Edwards Deming was celebrated.

Dr. Brain Joiner, author of Fourth Generation Management, gave a toast that included several Dr. Deming quotes:

  • Best efforts are not enough, you have to know what to do.
  • A numerical goal without a method is nonsense.
  • The most useful numbers are unknown and unknowable.
  • Where there is fear you do not get honest figures.

Who Influences Your Thinking?

Comments on Who Influences Your Thinking? [broken link removed] – Survey results [broken link removed]

> 1. Are people getting most of their information
> from other sources?
That would be my guess.

Similar to the phenomenon of “the long tail” which is an interesting topic in its own right. We tend to focus on the popular few (books, musicians, movies, authors, computer programs…) but often the sum of the less popular many is more significant. See:

  • The Long Tail, by Chris Anderson, Wired, Oct 2004 “The average Barnes & Noble carries 130,000 titles. Yet more than half of Amazon’s book sales come from outside its top 130,000 titles. Consider the implication: If the Amazon statistics are any guide, the market for books that are not even sold in the average bookstore is larger than the market for those that are”
  • Continued discussion of the Amazon figures in a Chiris Anderson’s blog. “I’ve now spoken to Jeff Bezos (and others) about this. He doesn’t have a hard figure for the percentage of sales of products not available offline, but reckons that it’s closer to 25-30%.”
  • The long tail – a secret sauce for companies like Amazon.com, Netflix and Apple Computer, Motley Fool, NPR Audio Recording

Getting back to the question raised by the “Who Influences Your Thinking” post; More importantly I believe they (we) are just failing to get all we should.
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Control Charts in Health Care

This post is an edited version of a message I sent to the Deming Electronic Network.

I find the “control charts in health care” thread quite interesting.

From Mike Woolbert’s post [link broken, so I removed it]
> I have read many comments about the 8 minute ambulance trip.
> This doesn’t seem to be a system measure, but a result measure.

It seems to me the 8 minute (90% of the time) measure is an attempt at a process measure (in a sense, you can see it as a result measure, but it is also a measure that will have an impact on overall results and as such can be used a process indicator). For it to be a process measure rather than than a process target however, it should actual be a measure of what has happened not a statement that we want to have 90% arrive within 8 minutes.

Jonathan Siegel’s comments [link broken, so I removed it] on this topic were excellent.

The control chart was developed to aid in process improvement. A control chart helps monitor the process (to aid in putting in place counter-measures, when needed, and for identification of special causes). The control chart can be used to see if the process is in control and what the expected results from the system are.
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Dangers of Forgetting the Proxy Nature of Data

Written in relation to a thread (Staff Attitude) on the Deming Electronic Network (link removed because the network no longer is online).

We use data to act as a proxy for some results of the system. Often people forget that the desired end result is not for the number to be improved but for the situation to be improved. We hope, if the measure improves the situation will have improved. But there are many reasons this may not be the case (one number improving at the expense of other parts of the system, the failure of the number to accurately serve as a proxy, distorting numbers, etc.).

I find something I learned from Brian Joiner an excellent summary – which I remember as:

Data (measuring a system) can be improved by

1) distorting the system

2) distorting the data

or 3) improving the system (which tends to be more difficult though likely what is desired)
Brian Joiner’s book, 4th Generation Management is a great book for managers. Continue reading