Monthly Bookmarks –
158th Edition – December 18th, 2023
If you don’t know how you achieved your objective, how do you know if you can do it again? But when you understand the means, you can consistently achieve and even supersede your objectives.John Willis, Deming’s Journey to Profound Knowledge
1. The $22 Million Theft
One of the stories I’ve been following for the past two weeks is the alleged theft of $22 million by a Jacksonville Jaguars financial manager.
Those who work in corporate finance or accounting will know that this type of theft is preventable and/or detectable when the right controls are in place. My favorite book on this topic is The Thief In Your Company by Tiffany Couch, a full-time forensic accountant.
If Tiffany is studying this case right now, she’ll tell you about the fraud triangle, the one action that could have prevented this theft, and how fraudsters befriend those around them and those they work for.
2. My Favorite Definition of Quality
When I think of the word quality, I immediately think of manufacturing and the term TQM, which is short for Total Quality Management.
However, according to IBIS World, the biggest industry in 2023 is drug, cosmetic, and toiletry wholesaling. Banking, health, medical insurance, and hospitals are not far behind. Manufacturing is nowhere to be found in the Top 10.
Accordingly, I find this 1985 description of quality the best I’ve ever read, which applies to non-manufacturers:
… quality means quality of work, quality of service, quality of information, quality of process, quality of division, quality of people, including workers, engineers, managers and executives, quality of company, quality of objectives.Kaoru Ishikawa, What is Total Quality Control?
3. Three Books on Deming
As I wrap up my 2023 reading year, I have two more chapters to complete of a Deming book I read about every two to three years. Deming is one of the great management thinkers in the modern business era, surpassing Peter Drucker, but I realize that is debatable.
Deming is hard to read. His material can come across as dry and dated. But the depth of his thinking on people, management, and results is mind-bending once you start studying his life’s work.
Over the years, I’ve found that the best way to read Deming is to start with the books about his teaching, which includes the title I’m reading now:
- The Deming Management Method by Mary Walton
- The Symphony of Profound Knowledge by Edward Martin Baker
- Scoring a Whole in One is Baker’s condensed version of his title above – great for busy executives
I will not read it until January or February, but I predict Deming’s Journey to Profound Knowledge by DevOps expert John Willis will ultimately make my list.
4. The ‘M’ in VMO
I have Bob Rosenberg on my mind and his VMO mental model that he used religiously during his 30-year CEO reign at Dunkin’ Donuts. V stands for vision. M is for mission, and O is for objectives.
When I think of mission, I can’t help but think of this line from Adam Bryant’s Quick and Nimble:
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the people to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” Chapter 2 and attributed to Antoine de Saint-Exupery
This process of internalizing a vision with team members is never-ending. I appreciated the transparency and honesty of Jeff Bezos in his 2020 annual report:
it’s clear to me that we need a better vision for how we create value for employees – a vision for their success.Jeff Bezos – 2020 Annual Report
5. Big Projects Gone Wrong
Think of the last big project you worked on or quarterbacked. Did it start and finish on time? Did you spend more or less on post-implementation training?
I’m betting both answers are somewhat negative. If so, you may like the book How Big Things Get Done by Brent Flyvbjerg. I found the book as much entertaining as its educational value.
Three of my favorite ideas in the book were:
- Projects don’t go wrong; they start out wrong. That message is pounded home over and over again with concrete examples in the book from past projects that went far over budget.
- My favorite concept in the book was reference-class forecasting, which was attributed to the work of Daniel Kahneman in Thinking, Fast and Slow.
- I’m a fan of the famous architect Frank Gehry, and I recommend watching his Masterclass. The author explains how Gehry’s projects are continually delivered on time and under budget.
By the way, here’s some great trivia. Was the Hoover Dam completed ahead of time, right on time, or delayed by many months and years? You’ll discover the answer and why if you should read the book.
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