Thursday, October 27, 2005


I’ve written many times about the importance of Systems Thinking and the need to look at the whole and not just the pieces/parts (end-to-end). I can still feel the pain the IT Department used to cause me because they always seem to have the code, database or implementation plan finished when it was convenient with there schedule.

I tried repeatedly to get them to understand that it is more important to meet the customer requirements and expectations than it is there internal schedules. Are they designing programs for their leisure or the customer?

This past week has brought back those memories in the form of a local city doing major construction on many suburban streets. I’m not against improving the roads and drainage systems, but why can’t the city planning people talk to their customers and survey the area before scheduling for the year. You see the work is being done all around an elementary and middle school. The trucks, mountains of dirt and workers have caused major traffic jams and rerouting through suburban streets. It’s dark in the morning and many of these children walk to school. The line-up of cars looks like a football game just finished. These are not crazy fans but parents in overdrive trying to drop off their kids and get to work on time.

Now, let’s see, when is there no school? Would summer be a good time to do these non-emergency upgrades? There are many other parts of the city that can be upgraded without disrupting the school system. Could it be the city planner’s just schedule without any concern to the degree of disruption? Could it be they don’t see the homeowners or the schools as customers that pay for their service?

I bet the amount tardy slips are way up and the school will not give the kids a break, after all they don’t see the kids as their customers either!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Math Skills ---> The NUMB3RS are still going down!

I really like the TV show numbers starring ex-Northern Exposure star Rob Morrow.

The math used in each episode of NUMB3RS is based on real FBI cases. Mathematics consultant’s work with NUMB3RS throughout production to ensure that the math used to help analyze and solve crimes is real and accurate as depicted by FBI agent Don Eppes (Rob Morrow) who recruits his mathematical genius brother Charlie (David Krumholtz) to help the Bureau solve a wide range of challenging crimes.

For years kids have complained that they don’t like math or do well in it because they see no real application. I’ve written previous posts about the amount of remedial math that is required when one enters college and it’s getting worse not better. Wayne State in Michigan reports an increase of 85% in the last four years.

C’mon Math teachers lets bring some real life application to Math classes. I believe the show NUMB3RS should be required watching in high school. Something has to change and it must be done now before we lose another generation to sub-standard math scores. The world is more technical and we need more math and science majors in all fields of business. However, they must not be Finance math folks, we have enough of them running around killing innovation and creativity.

Math should be taught to be fun and not grueling repetitive tables and memorizing theorems and rules. State testing is the big cause to this problem and has been for years. When you put bogus measures and guidelines in place with no plan on how to reach them you get failure. Keep moving the targets and goals without understanding where the process breakdowns are and you get traditional boring non-essential math classes.

Monday, October 17, 2005

AUTO INCENTIVES - Can they last the round?

General Motors and other auto companies who now have to give incentives to move sales each quarter are like wounded boxers trying to survive the round. Too bad, in order to win a fight you must look at the complete picture and not round by round.
General Motors seeks a jump-start to sales that have stalled since its popular employee discount pricing program ended.
It's offering a $500 gas card with the purchase of a 2005 or 2006 mid-size or full-size pickup or SUV.

The world's number one automaker also is reviving a program that allows customers who already lease GM products to get out of their contracts up to six months early. Those eligible must have leases that expire between November first and April 30th.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Granholm, Levin & Stabenow (updated 10/11/05) + Bush Admin

The top three government posts in Michigan made some critical recommendations and votes this past week. qualityg would like to review three of them.

1. Water from Detroit

I’m starting with this one because I received a $310 water bill (2 months). People talk about gas bills rising this winter but much doesn’t get said about Detroit ripping off the suburbs in water rates for the past several years.

Detroit’s Water & Sewerage Department operating revenue in 2004 was $575 million. 60% percent of that money comes from the suburbs.

Here is what Governor Granholm had to say about the issue:

"I would expect and hope that whoever is in the chair after that (the election) would engage in outreach to the entire state and that it goes both ways -- that the state reaches out to the city of Detroit," she said.

"We are only as strong as our largest city. And we have all got a vested interest in ensuring that Detroit succeeds."

qualityg says… for years I have been hearing public policy makers say, “The state of Michigan is only as strong as the city of Detroit” - WRONG

Please understand that improvement in a part (Detroit), even the largest part taken separately from the whole (Michigan) will not result in improvement. As you can see the Governor and many others public policy makers have it backwards. I used to think they were afraid to say it correctly, but maybe they just don’t know about systems thinking (systems thinking). For far to long the state has put Detroit ahead of the “rest” of the state as a whole and the whole has gotten worse!

Remember growth is an increase in number; it does NOT correlate with development.

2. Judge Roberts Confirmation

Nothing makes me cringe more than listening to politicians cow-tow to the party line. Last week was one of the worst for one of Michigan’s Senators.

As you know I have written about Carl Levin before (not nicely) and Debbie Stabenow (nicely). This time I’m flip flopping and here is why:

Senator Levin is usually the big democratic horse that blocks anything that comes out of the government administration. It was no different during the nomination proceedings for Judge John Roberts. However, Senator Levin did something that is not done enough when one needs to make a critical decision, he sat down and talked to Judge Roberts. Senator Levin voted for Judge Roberts.

Junior Senator Debbie Stabenow did not. I watched some of the confirmation hearings with Senator Stabenow and read many of her disagreements. All I can say is ‘whoever was pulling your bi-partisan strings forgot to hold up and left you dangling like a castoff rag doll.

3. Governor Granholm calls for Smaller High Schools (smaller high schools)

Sorry Governor but you are making the same mistake you made in number one above. You are taking “certain” parts (Southeast Michigan) and trying to improve them in hope that the whole state educational problems will improve.

You also mentioned Lt Governor Cherry’s Commission on Higher Education (Cherry Report). I won’t comment on that report again but you are still looking at parts (high school) and not the whole (pre-K – 16). No one is addressing the large classroom sizes in the elementary schools where teachers cannot specifically help the most in need. Those we leave behind in learning will not catch up in high school.

What data or facts makes you think it will get any better in middle schools and APPLE Computers or the Skillman Foundation cannot fix the problem when children are in high school.

You are taking the short-term band-aid view and not the long-lasting prevention view. I wonder why?

UPDATE 10/05/05

Governor Granholm Says Survey Shows Need for Mandated High School Curriculum

The State Board of Education today held a special meeting to discuss the results of the survey and the Governor’s call for a mandated curriculum.

State Board of Education President Kathleen Straus said the survey was eye-opening. “I thought we were doing a lot better than this, and it’s going to startle a lot of other people when this information gets out to the public,” she said.

The rest of the announcement is at

updated 11/11/05

Detroit News Runs Weekly Series on Crisis in Michigan Schools
About this series
This series of editorials and commentaries is based on a survey of 1,126 Michigan residents age 18 to 30. The poll by EPIC-MRA of Lansing was commissioned by the Your Child coalition and is part of an ongoing effort to measure the culture of education in Michigan. Come back to The Detroit News editorial pages to read:
• Sunday: Michigan schools fail their customers
• Today: School counseling falls short
• Tuesday: Small schools produce better results
• Wednesday: Tear down barriers to college
• Thursday: Scrap the senior year

Read each article at: schools must improve

4. Surprise – What about the Bush Administration Policy in IRAQ?

I learned a long time ago that I learn best by making my own mistakes and not by trying to duplicate someone else who thinks they have all the answers.

In other words… I don’t care what the administration says, we are commanding our solutions in Iraq and not assisting them in implementing their own solutions, whether they are right or wrong. The transformation will go much faster if we let Iraq make its own mistakes. Continue to assist and stop demanding things be done in a certain way.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Education --> Spoony Says "Less Recess + Less Gym Time + Less Play + Bad Lunch = BLAH"


The Junk in School Lunches --> School Lunch Junk

Spoony says "Eat More Fish"

Mike P ---> Master Angler?

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Daimler-Chrysler’s CEO aim’s to improve --> Quality?

On 9/27/05 The Detroit Free Press Business Writer Guy Collier had a question & answer session CEO AIM (article) with Dieter Zetsche recently named “new” Chairman of the Daimler-Chrylser Auto Company starting in January 2006.

I was intrigued with one of the questions and answers:

QUESTION: What needs to be done to address quality and profitability concerns at Mercedes?

ANSWER: What you need in the first place is to improve your process. You need standardization. You need clear definition of your process and a very rigid execution across those. It's basically about doing it right the first time.

qualityg says … Great answer until the "last sentence.” Sometime in the last 10 – 15 years someone in the Quality arena stated a quote about “Doing it Right the First Time.” It took off as a mantra in many organizations, some adding words like Do it Faster the first time and then Do it Faster and Cheaper the First Time. Sure does sound like a good quote to use, it has prevention and quality assurance written all over it - NOT!!

Mr. Zetsche has it half correct – It should simply say, “ Do the RIGHT thing.” How many times do we think we are doing the right thing the first time (i.e., all new projects) and then later find out it was incorrect? Continuing to do what you thought was right thing wrong only makes it more incorrect. Now, if we make a mistake doing the RIGHT thing, and we correct it, we have increased our learning. It’s better to correct a Right thing than it is to doing a wrong thing correctly, especially the first time.

Example – I was once foolish enough to believe that institutions of higher learning's aim was to educate our children – NOT! The aim/purpose of the college or university is for certain members of the faculty and administration who want steady raises and security of employment.

I read last week that the University of Michigan & Michigan State University rank as two of the major institutions in the United States where their most powerful and highest educational faculty do not teach, the grad student does this job. This is wrong, wrong and wronger. They should be teaching, and sharing knowledge, it’s OK for a grad to student to “sub” but not to teach full time.

I have 30 years in my field of study and currently working on my 4th degree. I cannot get a teaching job at the University of Michigan or Michigan State University because I do not have a PHD (my choice). I have trained (Telecom) and instructed (CMU) over 8000 employees and students. Who would you rather teach your children, a grad student or me?

Universities, you are doing what you think is the right thing, wrong!! Application and Theory is the basis for knowledge, not helping some professor do research and following a lesson plan.

Start doing the Right Thing. At least create a sense of balance.