Theory of probability in the office. How to correct typos in the data?

dt160106Previously I have shown how to use Excel and VBA language to automatically format financial statements or other documents. Today I will describe how to use theory of probability to correct typos in the data collected in our database e.g spreadsheets.

Surprised? Yes, we use theory of probability and statistics, completely useless piece of …. maths, to automatically find and correct typos made by our clients or colleagues.

– We don’t need that because we have autocorrection tools in our office software!
– Show me then, how to correct surnames or account numbers using these tools?
Oh… We need to wait when our customer will tell us about the mistake in his/her personal data…
And then you need to say sorry ;)
– What can I do instead?
– Let’s look at the example below …

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Gemba walk

gemba

Are you responsible for communicating the problems and solutions?
Yes, I am.

Is your manager responsible for observing your work and improve your working environment?
–  I don’t know… I have never seen this.

Do you like to talk about your problems?
– I fell like in front of the court, but what else can I do? Unfortunately, it is often impossible to change anything.

– What do you do?
I feel like I should pretend that everything is fine… but it is hard to change your values.

The key to any process improvement is to question everything; not just accept the status quo.

References:

  1. http://www.therightapproachconsulting.com/2015/09/01/gemba-walk/

High quality innovations. Oxymoron?

dilbert_startup_innovationThinking about innovation and quality management may lead us to contradictions. Preparing to this article I have found number of empirical case studies that  describe the relationship between quality management practices and innovation performance. One of such may be found here.

[…] several scholars reject the positive relationship between TQM and innovation for the reason that it possesses principles and practices that could hinder innovation. Slater and Narver (1998) and Wind and Mahajan (1997) agree that a customer focus philosophy could easily lead organizations to focus only on incremental improvements in their current products and service activities rather than trying to create novel solutions. Consequently, this leads to the development of uncompetitive “me-too” products rather than the development of real innovation. Customer focus, therefore, could build a “tyranny of the served market” in which managers see the world only through their current customers’ eyes. In this way, such firms could fail to explore customers’ latent needs.

Authors convince that quality management practices may positively influence innovations by creating a safe environment for them.

Combining the two sections of the above analysis provides a plausible evidence and explanation on the positive and significant relationship between TQM practices and innovation performance because not only TQM itself would lead to innovation performance, but the quality performance resulting from TQM practices also contributes to innovation performance. […] This means that although quality management does not directly result in innovation, organizations that want to pursue a high innovation performance must have the capability to manage quality requirements of their products before hand, as asserted by Bolwijn and Kumpe (1990) and Ferdows and DeMeyer (1990). In other words, quality management is a prerequisite for innovation management, and, therefore, TQMis necessary although not sufficient for innovation

How it looks like from employee’s perspective? As an engineer I like discoveries, experiments and innovations. I realize that my interests may lead me to failures. In most cases unacceptable in a corporate environment.  It is a difficult task to be innovative and reliable in the same time. It is difficult to be innovative inside the well-working factory. Where is the golden mean between standardization and innovations?

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Programming in the office. Why?

hard_job_payWhy programming might be important for people working in the office? We can work efficiently, better… we surely hear this propaganda. In practice… how to start when we haven’t got a break to learn during the day? One may say: learn at home in your free time! Easy…

Do we like our job to be engaged in a such a way? What we will do after we’ll improve our skills? Do we have other tasks or responsibilities? Do we believe that we will be appreciated by our company? Many questions and doubts…

However, we may look at these questions in a different way. Let’s imagine…. we are working with the spreadsheets. We have to prepare a financial statement to our customers. Many financial statements… Collecting the data  from number of databases, computing a financial balance…. and merging cells, coloring rows in a spreadsheet manually… Then we wake up with a well designed tool that is able to do all these things automatically ;)

Will you like your job more armed with this tool? How many your ideas were rejected due to the lack of time? How many time will be saved thanks to your engagement and programming skills?

Dream is only a dream but spreadsheet that colors rows and merges cells might be quite real ;) Click! Good point to start is googling for “how automatically …. in spreadsheet”. Your turn to learn programming :)

Deadline is coming….

dilbert2Do you ever wonder what gives you energy to work? Last time I thought about different ways of motivating people.

One way is declaring a deadline. Unfortunately, not in my case… I don’t need deadlines to be disciplined. To be disciplined… that’s the goal, isn’t it?

One may say that tight deadline is the most effective. It is a challenge, isn’t it? In my opinion tight deadline may be a challenge when we talking about reducing a working time on specified task permanently. Unfortunately, in most cases tight deadline is set because someone is in a hurry. Then, we sacrifice a quality…. then we have even more problems.

So what motivates me? I like to feel a sense of my work regardless of a deadline. Is it strange? Check this out: How deadlines can murder a motivation?

When I need to motivate myself to do something I don’t enjoy, I use rewards and deadlines – and, no doubt, I’m better off for doing that. But, when I already enjoy doing something (and given that I am a disciplined person), then I just need to let nature take its course.

What motivates you?

Hoshin Kanri. An alternative for MBO?

Previously, I have described Management by Objectives. This article presents Hoshin Kanri as an alternative to Management by Objectives. Hoshin Kanri was introduced by Toyota Motors Company. The detailed description of Hoshin Kanri may be found here.

dilbert-tackles-goals-management

Hoshin Kanri is a systematic and disciplined process to align, communicate and execute business strategy by focusing on those vital few breakthrough objectives that give you competitive advantage […] Hoshin Kanri can be thought of as the application of Deming’s PDCA cycle to the management process.

It sounds like Management by Objectives, so where is the difference?

  • Objectives are set up by leaders who spent enough time at the specified workplace (gemba). They are aware of the real situation in the company, department and team. The goals couldn’t be imposed by leaders.
  • The process of setting the targets and planning the strategy couldn’t be independent. Leaders have to know how to achieve something before they expect that. Asking “how” is as important as asking “what”.
  • Measuring the progress allows to adapt to the situation.
  • There are no rewards for achievements. Hoshin Kanri is for benchmarking our projects and determining where we are in relation to the company’s vision.

It sounds totally different than Management by Objectives ;)

Learning programming? Let’s build a robot.

Learning programming might be very time consuming. It requires patience and systematic work. Numbers, numbers and command line… or toys and robots ;)

RASP

My robot: raspberry pi, motor driver, toy and batteries

How to build a robot and have a fun with programming? What about using a tiny, low cost computer that may be connected with a toy car and a motor?

The Raspberry Pi fits to these requirements perfectly. Even a child can play with a hardware!

Raspberry PI might be used in many different applications. Sky and imagination is our limit. Motion detectors, weather stations, minecraft server, router, private network and many others…

To build a robot you need to follow the link. Have a fun!