Tag Archives: entrepreneur

Management Improvement Blog Carnival #171

The Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog Carnival has been published since 2006. We find great management blog posts and share them with you 3 times a month. We hope you find these post interesting and find some new blogs to start reading. Follow me online: Google+, Twitter, Reddit, and more.

  • Ticket Grab: New Game at Caine’s Arcade + 5 lessons for entrepreneurs – 5 Lessons for Entrepreneurs Caine (shown is video above) has Learned: 1) Be nice to customers. 2) Do a business that is fun. 3) Do not give up. 4) Start with what you have. 5) Use recycled stuff. Caine is 9 by the way.
  • How I hire writers by Hitesh Sarda – “We spend a quick 10-15 min assessing if the candidate deserves our time and next interview round or not. My favourite questions include: spelling of conscientious, explain oxford comma… Once I am convinced of their hold on words, we move to round 3… Here we take a deep dive into the writers command over the intricacy of the language. Sample questions: Question on lexical roots of some words. More spellings and grammar questions….” 🙂
  • Without work standards there can be no kaizens by Tracey Richardson – “When was at Toyota those actions were things like – Go See, Respect for people, Continuous Improvement, Teamwork, and Challenge, these were values that could be translated into an action a leader could show from top management down to a team member level, this creates the consistency for the values and principles to become the belief system for the organization that its more than just words on the wall in the lobby.”
  • Innovation at Bell Labs by Michael McKinney – “Humans all suffered from a terrible habit of shoving new ideas into old paradigms. ‘Everyone faces the future with their eyes firmly on the past and they don’t see what’s going to happen next,’ observed John Pierce.”
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Management Improvement Carnival #145

The Curious Cat Management blog carnival highlights recent management blog posts 3 times each month. The posts generally focus on the areas I have focused on in the Curious Cat Management Guide since 1996 (Deming, evidence based management, lean manufacturing, agile software development, systems thinking…).

photo of me with a blackboard in my father's office

Me in my father's office, drawing by John, photo by Bill Hunter

  • Why Startup Hubs Work by Paul Graham – “The problem is not that most towns kill startups. It’s that death is the default for startups, and most towns don’t save them… Both components of the antidote—an environment that encourages startups, and chance meetings with people who help you—are driven by the same underlying cause: the number of startup people around you.” [Creating entrepreneurship hubs is extremely important economically. Many countries are very interested in making this work for them. Doing so is not easy and still is a huge advantage the USA benefits from in the Valley and also NYC, Boston… – John, previous post: The Future is Engineering]
  • “Management By Walking Around” vs. “Gemba Walks” by Mark Graban – “Study the Toyota model. Read Norman Bodek’s article. Read Quint Studer’s work on “rounding for outcomes” (a great thing to read whether you are in healthcare or not). Studer emphasizes stopping to truly engage with employees, not just slapping them on the back. Bonus – read Jamie Flinchbaugh’s IndustryWeek piece on effective gemba walks.”
  • What I Learned From Steve Jobs by Guy Kawasaki – “Customers cannot tell you what they need… Changing your mind is a sign of intelligence…”
  • About Spread by Lee Fried – “While spreading standard work over time is essential to increasing the rate of improvement of an organization it will never occur or sustain without simultaneously putting in place a Management system.” [this theme is repeated over and over, without a management system the gains made are real, but small fractions of what is possible when management thinks and acts fundamentally differently – John].
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6 New Kiva Loans to Manufacturing Entrepreneurs

I have been a big fan of Kiva for quite some time, and have written about it previously: Kiva – Giving Entrepreneurs an Opportunity to Succeed, Thanksgiving: Micro-financing Entrepreneurs. I made 6 new loans today to manufacturing entrepreneurs in the USA (and Mexico); Tajikistan; Nicaragua; Armenia; and 2 in El Salvador. The webcast above shows Armen Tsaghikyan in Armenia. It does seem like his process maybe could use a benefit from a bit of application of lean manufacturing ideas.

It is great to be able to help out people whether it is providing useful information (like I hope my web site and blog do) or a small loan of capital that allows some capital improvements. Many of the loans through Kiva amount to providing a loan to get additional supplies (often they have very limited capital). But my favorite loans are those that allow for purchases of new equipment that will make them more efficient.

It is easy to help out yourself; you can loan as a little as $25. The 10 members of the Curious Cat team have made 292 loans for a total of $12,000. Comment with the link to your Kiva page and I will add a link on Curious Cat Kivans.

Related: Kiva Fellows Blog: Nepalese Entrepreneur SuccessMore Kiva Entrepreneur Loans: Kenya, Honduras, Armenia…100th Entrepreneur Loan

Productivity Improvement for Entrepreneurs (and Everybody Else Really)

The 3 Factors That are Limiting Your Productivity [the broken link has been removed] by Evan Carmichael

Elimination is at the core of every successful business. You have to focus on what you’re really good [at], what drives your business forward, and what you’re legally required to do in order to stay in business. Everything else should be eliminated.

Just because everyone else does it or because you’ve always done it that way, it doesn’t mean you have to continue doing it.

The order of Eliminate, Automate, Delegate is very important.

Eliminate is first. You don’t want to automate or delegate something that can be eliminated because it’s a non-productive task. Automate is next. You don’t want to delegate something that can be automated because it is more expensive and more prone to error.

I agree that eliminating non-value/low-value work should be done much more often. Automating makes a great deal of sense, though I would generalize it to process improvement. Automation is great: I think that is a specific form of process improvement – automation is wise, but maybe limiting. You improve productivity both by taking less time and by producing more effectively. If you produce something of more value to customers in the same time that improves productivity.

I also think there is another important area for people to think about – new ideas. Spending more time on something might seem counter-productive to productivity improvement. It takes time after all. Going and seeing what is really going on with your own eyes takes time, but trying to save time by acting based on reports results in ineffective and therefore unproductive action.

One of the things I first when looking at using internet technology to improve performance was that the technology opens new opportunities that were not feasible previously. People often focused just on how to improve what was done. People forget to look at things that were not pursued before that are now possible. With the time you save by eliminating, improving and delegating maybe you would get a big productivity improvement by coaching someone – or by being coached yourself. Or by reading about how to apply successful management improvement strategies that are too often ignored. Or you can learn about a new strategy that is more effective such as, combinatorial testing. Or learn to eliminate ineffective strategies such as: multitasking .

A number of “new ideas” are round about ways to eliminate work, in some form, though in a bit less direct way than people normally would consider elimination. For example, if you focus on reducing turnover, you can eliminate time spent bringing new people up to speed. If you make a process more reliable you can reduce the time spent dealing with the problems from a less reliable process.
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Easiest Countries for Doing Business 2008

Singapore is again ranked first for Ease of Doing Business by the World Bank. For some reason they call the report issued in any given year as the report for the next year (which makes no sense to me). The data shown below is for the year they released the report.

Country 2008 2007 2006 2005
Singapore 1 1 1 2
New Zealand 2 2 2 1
United States 3 3 3 3
Hong Kong 4 4 5 6
Denmark 5 5 7 7
United Kingdom 6 6 6 5
other countries of interest
Canada 8 7 4 4
Japan 12 12 11 12
Germany 25 20 21 21

The rankings include ranking of various aspects of running a business. Some rankings for 2008: Dealing with Construction Permits (Singapore and New Zealand 2nd, USA 26th, China 176th), Employing Workers (Singapore and the USA 1st, Germany 142nd), protecting investors (New Zealand 1st, Singapore 2nd, Hong Kong 3rd, Malaysia 4th, USA 5th), enforcing contracts (Singapore 1st, Hong Kong 2nd, USA 6th, China 18th), getting credit (Malaysia 1st; UK and Hong Kong 2nd; Singapore, New Zealand and USA 5th), paying taxes (Hong Kong 3rd, USA 46th, Japan 112th, China 132nd).

These rankings are not the final word on exactly where each country truly ranks but they do provide a interesting view. With this type of data there is plenty of room for judgment and issues with the data. Several of my posts, from my other blogs, that I recommend on this topic: The Future is Engineering, Science and Engineering in Global Economics and Intellectual Property Rights and Innovation.

Related: Easiest Countries from Which to Operate Businesses 2007Countries Which are Easiest for Doing Business 2006New Look American ManufacturingTop Manufacturing Countries (2007)Oil Consumption by CountryInternational Health Care System PerformanceEconomics, America and China

Kiva Fellows Blog: Nepalese Entrepreneur Success

photo of Rita Bashnet

Kiva is a great charity and example of how to use the web effectively. Kiva has added a fellows blog – which is a great idea. The fellows are funded by Kiva (fellows are unpaid) to go to spend time in the countries Kiva facilitates loans for working with the local partners. This post is about Rita Bashnet (in photo) an entrepreneur from Nepal:

Field visits are by far the best part about being a Kiva Fellow. You’re given the opportunity to hop on a motorbike, hike up a village trail, and actually see the impact of a Kiva loan firsthand.

Five years ago, Ms. Rita took her first loan of NRs. 10,000 (USD $150) and purchased some extra seed and fertilizer in the hopes of expanding her small vegetable patch. With the profits from this initial investment and a second loan from Patan Business and Professional Women (they offer a graduated loan program), she then purchased her first dairy cow.

After hearing about a program that subsidized the installation of methane gas storage tanks, Ms. Rita took another loan and applied for the program. With this new system, she is now able to capture the valuable gas released from her cow’s waste in a simple controlled-release storage tank. Today she no longer purchases gas from the city and can even sell some during times of shortage.

Ms. Rita exemplifies the potential of microfinance. A combination of access to capital and strategic investment has allowed her and her family to drastically improve their economic situation in a short five years.

Great story, and exactly my hope for using capitalism to improve the standard of living for people around the globe.

I notice a few days ago, for the first time, some of those seeking loans are about to have their listings expire unfunded. Kiva gives listings 30 days to be funded. Yesterday Kiva announced they were providing funds to lenders as soon as the entrepreneur has made a payment (it used to provide the funds to lenders only once the loan was closed out). My guess is they were smart to create a backlog of available loan options before flooding the Kiva market with lots of extra capital (I, for example, now have over $500 available to lend. If they didn’t have a backlog when this change took place they would have created a situation whee lenders could log in to lend money and can’t find anyone to lend to.

I have no problem if some loans are not funded (I want to help entrepreneurs by providing funding to build a business – some loans are for things like adding a room onto their house, which is fine but not what I want to support with interest free loans from me). A significant number of the unfunded loans where for pubs (I think Kiva lenders might not have the same criteria as banks :-).

If you haven’t loaned money through Kiva, please consider it now. If you do, send me your Kiva lender link and I will add it to Curious Cat Kivans. We have a couple readers that have provided links (including fellow bloggers Kevin Meyer and Tom Southworth) but I really would like to see more.

Related: Using Capitalism to Make the World BetterMillennium Development GoalsAppropriate TechnologyProvide a Helping Hand with Kiva

Making a Difference

Kiva provides loans through partners (operating in the countries) to the entrepreneurs. Those partners do charge the entrepreneurs interest (to fund the operations of the lending partner). Kiva pays the principle back to you but does not pay interest. And if the entrepreneur defaults then you do not get your capital paid back (in other words you lose the money you loaned).

They do an excellent job of using the internet to allow people like me to feel connected to people we can help. And in so doing, they do an excellent job of implementing their strategy (providing funds for micro-loans) to achieve their goal (to alleviate poverty). “Kiva’s mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty.”

Today I added $450 to my loan portfolio with Kiva and donated another $100 to Kiva. I added 5 loans in: Tanzania (2 loans), Uganda, Paraguay and Ecuador.

I am happy with the success of the Curious Cat blogs but I do have one item I wish would improve. I wish more Curious Cat readers would take advantage of Kiva. If you lend through Kiva, please add a comment with a link to your Kiva page and I will add you to our list of Curious Cat Kiva Contributors.

The Kiva web site includes all sorts of data on the partners making the loans (the capital at risk is provided by Kiva donors but a local organization services the loans…). For example, see the profile for Tujijenge Tanzania Ltd. This shows for example the Amount Repaid Vs Expected Rate (100% for this partner – no defaults or delinquency). The rates for all Kiva loans are 3.75% delinquent and .12% defaulted. They also show the Average Interest Rate Borrower Pays To Kiva Field Partner (which is 24% in this example) and the Average Local Money Lender Interest Rate (which is 60%).

One of things I really hope to see is some research on the results Kiva is producing. What kind of changes are these loans bringing about: specifically looking at Kiva. And also looking at various factors such as the interest rate and whether targeting my lending to those with lower average rates results in greater benefit. There is a great deal of unknown and unknowable numbers involved but some data would be interesting as well as analysis even without numbers of results.

Related: Using Capitalism to Make the World BetterFrontline Explores Kiva in UgandaProviding a Helping Hand via KivaExpanding Credit Access: Using Randomized Supply Decisions to Estimate the ImpactsMicrofinance research links

Interviews with Innovators

Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days by Jessica Livingston is an interesting looking book to be published in a few months. The book consists of interviews with founders of technology companies exploring the initial efforts to create a new company.

Interviews include: David Heinemeier Hansson [the broken link was removed] (who many of our readers may not have heard of but who has recently done a great web development framework [Ruby on Rails] and development philosophy very compatible with lean thinking), Evan Williams (founder of blogger), Craig Newmark (founder of Craigslist), Joel Spolsky (who we have referenced in various posts), Ray Ozzie, Paul Graham and many more. The interview of Steve Wozniak [the broken link was removed] is available online [make that was]:
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