Tag Archives: technology

Create Your Own Book

I received a custom made photo book from my brother. It is amazing. It is a hardcover book, full of photos. The quality is amazing. The book is printed by blurb. Looking on their web site the pricing is surprisingly cheap: 150 page full color hardcover book – $39.95 (for 1 copy! – 10% discount at 25 copies…), as little as $18.95 for a full color softcover book up to 40 pages. The site says books are normally printed in under a week.

I have not tried it but it appears printing your own great looking book is about as easy as creating a blog. I knew it was getting easier to print books, but still I find this very cool. Blurb can import photos from Flickr [the broken link was removed] and Picasa [the broken link was removed].

Lessons from Toyota’s IT Strategy

Another interesting post from Panta Rei: Lessons from Toyota’s IT Strategy [the broken link was removed]:

In order to use IT effectively as a tool, we think that it is important for the top management to not see IT as something that can be applied superficially. First they must see the facts of the business, the facts of the gemba, and on top of this foundation further consider the feelings of people and how to motivate them. Then rules must be written and standardization must be done properly on the basis of the global business framework, before IT is implemented.

The words hardly seem revolutionary. The importance, I believe is understanding how differently Toyota acts upon what it says. For more on Toyota IT see: Toyota IT Overview.

Related: Infromation Technology management improvement related postsToyota IT for KaizenDell, Reddit and Customer FocusIT Management Training Program

Internet Access at Work

Providing internet access at work can create some management issues. However, the correct solution to those problems is not to be overly restrictive on access to the internet.

Obviously, the most important thing is doing the work of the organization: there is no excuse for employees ignoring customers or pressing needs to IM with their friends or browse the web. However, if you hire responsible people and manage properly – maintaining a proper work culture, etc., you should respect and trust your employees.

Internet access does create the potential for abuse. And I think it may well require more management involvement to assure it is not abused (because the temptation is so great) but much of that management involvement is probably a good thing. Management, in general, is too far removed from what is actually going on (see Dilbert’s pointy haired boss).
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Usability Failures

‘Smart’ phones, stupid punters?

A survey* of 15,000 “faulty” devices by mobile data provider WDSGlobal found 63 per cent of the one in seven new phones which are returned have nothing wrong with them.

I believe one in seven is the model of phone. I guess if you operationally define “nothing wrong” as a failure to work as the manufacturer intended that would be true. But is that what really matters? What is the number of defects that should be counted?

The design of the phone is broken if 63% of the returns work as intended and customers still think they are broken. Continue reading

Management: Geeks and Deming

Why Business Needs More Geeks [the broken link was removed] by Robert May:

then along came Wall Street. Obsessed with quarterly profit increases and seeing them as disconnected from value creation, Wall Street encouraged businesses to think short-term. The things that led to value creation – things like innovation, continued learning, employee development, long-term focus – were replaced by pump-and-dump management styles.

There is a great deal of similarity between this article and Deming’s ideas. Several of Deming’s 14 obligation of management and 7 deadly diseases are noted in this quote, including: “Remove barriers that rob people of joy in their work” and the disease – “Emphasis on short term profits.” Deming was a physicist so that may explain the similarity of this ideas to geek management culture.

Points from the article:

  • “Geeks seek knowledge for it’s own sake” – Deming’s point 13 “Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement.” Deming encouraged organizations supporting education of employees – even when unrelated to work in any direct way.
  • “Geeks like to experiment” – many of Deming’s ideas focus on this point, most obviously is the emphasis on PDSA
  • “Geeks openly debate the merits of technical ideas” – again many of Deming’s ideas focus on the importance of focusing on actual merits versus people’s assumptions or organizational power struggles (though this point might be less direct than some of the others). Understanding variation (also see tampering) is an effort to get people to focus on merits versus arguing over misperceptions or less important details.
  • “Geeks are concerned with doing good work just because” – Deming: “Remove barriers that rob people of joy in their work.” Geeks have a strong tendency to hold onto this desire even in the face of Dilbert bosses – where many others give up (and even convince themselves they have no such desire – in my opinion as a coping mechanism). Deming (and I) believe everyone has this desire – though I believe many non-geeks have given up hope of having pride in their work.
  • “Geeks are about results, not office politics” – I don’t see any direct tie here, but the sentiment would support many of Deming’s points about how management has lost its way, failing to focus on the important business needs.

More Deming on management and
other posts on Deming’s management ideas.