This Focused Performance Weblog started life as a "business management blog" containing links and commentary related primarily to organizational effectiveness with a "Theory of Constraints" perspective, but is in the process of evolving towards primary content on interactive and mobile marketing. Think of it as about Focusing marketing messages for enhanced Performance. If you are on an archive page, current postings are found here.
Saturday, February 01, 2003
• Pondering Awareness of Variation -- In one of my online hangouts with like-minded folks, and a major sources of input, APICS' Constraint Management SIG discussion group, Philip Bakker recently reminded me of a contribution by Brian Potter from a while ago. I wish the archives of this maillist were available on the web, but they aren't, so here are Brian's insights on how we might see variation...
"1. Total unawareness: Attributing effects of variation to a "failure to execute" (probably, the "failure" of subordinates).
"2. Glimmer of awarenes: A "Murphy's Law" level of understanding that "things always go wrong," but there is nothing one can do about it (other than allow "extra" time, resources, and [of course] money).
"3. Basic awareness: Knowing something about statistical variation, randomness, reproducibility, and the like but with a feeling that it is "somebody else's problem" (probably a subordinate's)
"4. Awareness: It's real; it's my problem, and SPC is a good control methodology.
"5. Mature awareness: Variation is a reality, and a continuous improvement management philosophy creates a dynamic system that can deal with variation. How do I keep variation from damaging the ultimate results? Deming, TQMP, 6-Sigma, et al have reached this point.
"6. Sophistication: Variation is a natural phenomenon of physical systems. How can I design systems that absorb variation without suffering damaging effects (in particular, without passing damaging results on to the customer, but also absorbing variation without feeling damaging internal impacts)? This is where I see TOC being, now.
"7. Exploitation: Variation is change with a natural pattern. How can I design systems with the variation patterns as PLANNED control parameters? How can I "surf" on the variation and use it to my advantage?"
...The message of that last one might be translated to the vernacular as "If s..t happens, take advantage of the fertilizer." Philip goes on in his reminder by pointing to a technical application of the idea for wireless transmissions...
"In wireless systems, radio waves do not propagate simply from transmit antenna to receive antenna, but bounce and scatter randomly off objects in the environment. This scattering is known as multipath, as it results in multiple copies ("images") of the transmitted signal arriving at the receiver via different scattered paths. In conventional wireless systems, multipath represents a significant impediment to accurate transmission, because the images arrive at the receiver at slightly different times and can thus interfere destructively, cancelling each other out. For this reason, multipath is traditionally viewed as a serious impairment. Using the BLAST approach however, it is possible to exploit multipath, that is, to use the scattering characteristics of the propagation environment to enhance, rather than degrade, transmission accuracy by treating the multiplicity of scattering paths as separate parallel subchannels."