Thou Shalt Not Delay, Distort or Withhold Information

Systems need information They use that information to control the way they act. In a system of cells (like your body) that information flows along nerves and via hormones. In a system of animals (like a colony of ants) that information flows via pheromones and signals. In a system of people (like your business) it […]

Why Were You Late for Work?

Logic Trees There is a simple way of diagnosing a problem, and then finding a solution.  It is called “the five whys?” No doubt you have heard of it, it is a way of refining a problem until you get to its cause. When faced with a problem ask why it happened. Then ask again. […]

How to Make a Point

Death and taxes In the U.K. we pay car tax — we pay lots of other taxes as well. Every private car owner pays the DVLA (driver vehicle licensing authority) about £200 per year — the exact price depends on the car.  (This complicated approach to taxation confuses the public and allows the government to […]

Outputs and Outcomes

Similar but not the same It may be semantics, but I think we confuse outcomes and outputs: A call that has been answered is an output A query that has been resolved is and outcome A “finished consultant episode” is an output A patient that has been treated is an outcome An order that has been shipped […]

Did You Know That…

Knowledge is interesting You can classify it into 4 categories.  It all depends on what you know and what you think you know. A diagram might make that a little clearer: There is stuff you know you know I know I know the way to my front door.  This is a safe place to be. There is […]

Should You Benchmark?

Benchmarking and best practice I spent 8 hours today learning all about benchmarking. It was fascinating… Here are some of the highlights: You should benchmark against procedures that are accepted as being the most effective. Benchmarking provides a means to compare your firm against other businesses, and identify areas where you can improve your performance The […]

Prove Me Wrong!

Confirmation bias A scientist has asked you to take part in a test.  It is a simple test, all you have to do is work out a pattern of numbers. He gives you three numbers to start with and then asks you to give him another set of three numbers.  In return he will let you […]

Justice Isn’t All That It Seems

Things don’t always work the way they should Take the judicial system as an example. We hope that judges are always fair and impartial.  That they apply the logic of the law in an even-handed way.  After all, justice is blind.  But if you wanted to challenge this assumption you could probably drive a cart […]

Sex and Soap Powder, Trial and Error

An interesting story: Steve Jones is a geneticist, a well-known one, if you move in those circles.  He tells an interesting story about failure.  You can skip my version and watch it below if you wish. The problem There is a soap powder factory near Liverpool.  It makes Persil and Surf and things like that. In […]

Productivity for Productivity’s Sake

The obsession We love to make things more productive. We strive to be cheaper, more efficient, higher yielding.  It is the holy grail, taking up most of our working hours. More for less in itself isn’t a bad goal, but who decides if we are being productive? Myopic measurement Imagine you flip burgers for a living and you […]