Steve Moore’s picture

By: Steve Moore

Pickleball is arguably the fastest-growing sport in the United States, especially among baby-boomer retirees. This game is similar to tennis, but is played on a smaller court (44 ft × 20 ft) with a solid paddle and a perforated polymer ball much like a wiffle ball.

Pickleball’s popularity may be due in part because it is a very sociable sport (men and women can play equally well), and it is much easier on the body than tennis. Many high schools as well as colleges and universities have included pickleball in their physical education programs.

Pickleball was invented by a family on Bainbridge Island, Washington, in 1965 and has gradually spread across the United States and around the world. The sport now has more than two million players worldwide, including the USA Pickleball Association, the first professional pickleball league.

Davis Balestracci’s picture

By: Davis Balestracci

As statistical methods become more embedded in everyday organizational quality improvement efforts, I find that a key concept is often woefully misunderstood, if it is even taught at all. W. Edwards Deming distinguished between two types of statistical study, which he called “enumerative” and “analytic.”

The key need in quality improvement is that statistics should relate to reality, which then lays the foundation for a theory of using statistics (analytic). Whether you realize it or not, the perspective from which virtually all college courses and many belt courses are taught is population-based (enumerative), its purpose is estimation. 

In a real-world environment, this becomes questionable at best because everyday processes are usually not static populations. Deming was emphatic that the purpose of statistics in improvement is prediction; the question becomes, “What other knowledge beyond probability theory is needed to form a basis for action in the real world?”

Think of population-based statistics as studying a static pond, and a designed study going even further to create a custom-made pond like a swimming pool—a sanitized version of a pond, much easier to study and sample because of reduction of “nuisance” (i.e., everyday) variation. 

The Un-Comfort Zone With Robert Wilson’s picture

By: The Un-Comfort Zone With Robert Wilson

When I was 7 years old, I went into the woods behind my house, built a fire, then fried an egg over it in an old pie tin. When the egg was done, I ate it. I didn’t even like eggs, but because I had cooked it on my own, it was delicious.

I was so proud of my achievement that I ran inside and told my father. The look on my Dad’s face was horror, and I immediately expected to be severely scolded, but he didn’t. Instead, he said, “Wow, that’s quite an accomplishment. Why don’t you show me your campfire?”

He followed me into the woods and saw that I had properly put the fire out. I still recall the look of relief on his face. He then praised me some more, and finished by saying, “That looks like it was a lot of fun, but next time you want to do this, please include me.”

From the look on his face, I got the message loud and clear. He was concerned about me “playing with fire,” and wanted to chaperone me if I did it again.

The point of this story, however, is that he didn’t yell at me. He didn’t tell me how hazardous it was, how I could’ve set the woods on fire, or burned myself. In short, he didn’t plant the seeds of fear that could’ve made me risk-averse in the future.

David Blustein’s picture

By: David Blustein

On the surface, the well-being of the American worker seems rosy. Unemployment in the United States hovers near a 50-year low, and employers describe growing shortages of workers in a wide array of fields. But looking beyond the numbers tells a different story.

Annette Franz’s picture

By: Annette Franz

Being a customer experience (CX) professional is hard enough; misinformation just makes our work more challenging. Misinformation or confusing information by a person with a ton of followers and a ton of influence makes our work even more challenging.

Recently, Seth Godin published a post on his site titled “Sneaky Surveys (and Push Polls).” I’m a big Seth Godin fan, but this post made me pause. As of today, it’s already received almost 4,000 likes (stars) on his site. In his post, he makes six points about surveys. I’ll address each one.

Open access online surveys

His comment on this topic is: “All open access online surveys are essentially inaccurate, because the group that takes the time to answer the survey is usually different from the general public.”

Vibhas Rattanjee’s picture

By: Vibhas Rattanjee

Leadership development might be one of the most significant loss-making ventures in modern business. Companies spend big money on developing leaders—about $3.4 billion annually by some estimates—yet research shows that 50 to 60 percent of executives fail to achieve the strategy they were hired to execute within 18 months of taking the job.

It’s not for lack of talent or effort. Leadership is simply more challenging in today’s ever-changing and highly complex business environment.

But $3.4 billion dollars is a lot of money, and if that outlay on development isn’t doing the trick, what will?

Maybe it’s as simple as a gentle nudge.

Nudging leadership development

Nudge theory was popularized by behavioral economics researchers Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein.

Nudge theory focuses on the design of choices, which influences the decisions we make. The theory is broadly based on heuristics—a Greek word that now means self-discovery—which are mental shortcuts that people take to solve problems or make quick decisions.

Isaac Maw’s picture

By: Isaac Maw

Machine learning can be used for more than violating your privacy for a social media challenge. For example, one fascinating application has been developed by Instrumental AI, which uses machine learning to detect defects and anomalies in photographs of parts during various stages of assembly, primarily in the electronics manufacturing industry.

Instrumental was founded by Anna Shedletsky, a former Apple engineer with two degrees from Stanford. A mechanical engineer by training, Shedletsky led system products design for the Apple Watch for six years. “I led the team that designed the physical product itself, as well as being responsible for the first production line, says Shedletsky. We had to prove mass production yields at mass production speeds on the first line.”

Anna Shedletsky, CEO, Instrumental

Jim Benson’s picture

By: Jim Benson

Responsibility. It’s a hard word to come to grips with. What is the responsible thing to do right now? What is my personal responsibility? What is my responsibility as a team, family, company, state, or country member? What do I expect from others?

The world now is in transition, from being controlled by a race of people with very little information or opportunities to act, to one overwhelmed by both.

You live in this world. I live in this world.

Every day I am confronted by options to make my home a home, to eat, to further the mission of Modus Cooperandi, to help my clients improve, to write, to make music, to relax, to exercise, to see more of my beautiful world, to respond to the inefficiencies or the outright injustices of the world around me.

And we ask people to “be lean” or to “continuously improve” in this soup of emotions, frustrations, desires, goals, brick walls, open doors, confusion, certainty, and overcooked eggs. People can’t act. We are trapped.

Harish Jose’s picture

By: Harish Jose

After reviewing Mark Graban’s wonderful book, Measures of Success (Constancy, 2018), I started rereading Walter Shewhart’s books, Statistical Method From the Viewpoint of Quality Control (Dover reprint 1986, originally edited by W. Edwards. Deming), and Economic Control of Quality of Manufactured Product (Martino Fine Books, 2015 reprint). Both are excellent books for any quality professional.

One of the themes that stood out for me while reading the two books was the concept of cybernetics. This column is a result of studying Shewhart’s books as well as articles on cybernetics by Paul Pangaro.

Michael D. Williams’s picture

By: Michael D. Williams

As I spoke recently with colleagues at a conference in Florence, Italy, about healthcare innovation, a fundamental truth resurfaced in my mind: the U.S. healthcare industry is just that. An industry, an economic force, Big Business. It is a vehicle for returns on investment first and the success of our society second.

This is critical to consider as presidential candidates unveil their healthcare plans. The candidates and the electorate seem to forget that healthcare in our country is a huge business.

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