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Management and Related Notes

  • Introduction
  • Medical Economics
  • Creativity and Problem Solving
  • Common Cognitive Errors
  • Deception
  • The Innovator's Dilemna
  • The Logic of Failure
  • Mindfulness
  • Misc
  • Reengineering The Corporation: A Manifesto for Business Revolution
  • Introduction and Citation
  • Reengineering Notes
  • Meetings
  • Selling the Invisible
  • Ten Things Bob Taught Me
  • The Mental Efficiency Series
  • Links
  • History
  • Footnotes
  • Rev: 01 Feb 2003.


    A set of notes about books I've read that are applicable to managing and leveraging technology innovations. I use AvantGo to store these on my Palm. See also CSD Problem Solving.

    Medical Economics

    010514_SovietPlanning.gif (16057 bytes)

    Creativity and Problem Solving

    Sutherland and others

    1. Examine the symmetry of the problem, and you may find the symmetry of the solution.
    2. Build a taxonomy of the problem and you may discover new combinations to explain
    3. Identify categories of the problem -- explore the inverse.
    4. Attach the most generic and expansive version first ..  A simpler version ... A special case ...
    5. Describe the problem aloud to another person
    6. Read papers, attend lectures on unrelated subjects.
    7. Sleep, exercise.

    Common Cognitive Errors

    (from a review in the Economist, 1999)


    From cognition studies ..

    Detecting Deception

    Deceiving (how to fake sincerity)

    The Innovator's Dilemna

    Clayton M. Christensen, The Innovator's Dilemma, June 1997. Harvard Business School Press; ISBN: 0875845851

    (Need to locate my notes)

    The Logic of Failure

    Dietrich Dorner, Rita Kimber (Translator), Robert Kimber (Translator), The Logic of Failure: Recognizing and Avoiding Error in Complex Situations. September 1997, Perseus Pr; ISBN: 0201479486

    (Need to locate my notes)


    Ellen J. Langer, Mindfulness April 1990, Perseus Pr; ISBN: 0201523418


    Some from: How to Become CEO: The Rules for Rising to the Top of Any Organization by Jeffrey J. Fox  1 Ed edition (October 1998) Hyperion Press; ISBN: 0786864370. Others are diverse sources, including Scott Adams.

    Reengineering The Corporation: A Manifesto for Business Revolution

    Introduction and Citation

    Michael Hammer and James Champy, Reengineering The Corporation: A Manifesto for Business Revolution. Harper Collins 1993.

    I wrote up these notes when I was reading Hammer and Champy's book. They're reprinted here for public use. The notes are my own, and may bear no resemblance to the book. My comments are in italics, they focus on primary care. Hammer and Champy's ideas are not all original, and many people (myself included) disagree with their analysis of the costs and benefits of their particular approach to reengineering. Indeed, since I put these notes together (1996) reengineering has fallen from grace. I still think there's something to it however.

    Reengineering Notes

    Key Characteristics of Reengineering

    Themes for Reengineering

    Characteristics of Reengineered Business Processes

    Characteristics of the Reengineered Workplace

    Approaching a Reengineering Project

    1. Identify problem processes, other problems, challenges, puzzles (use standard systems analysis techniques). Look for known broken processes or symptoms of broken processes
    2. identify/note technologies: computers, systems
    3. apply "inductive thinking"
    4. start with feasible projects
    5. Benchmark from the world's best, not the industry's best.

    Understanding Processes

    How to Fail at Reengineering: Common Mistakes


    How to make meetings work, Doyle and Straus, the new interaction method.

    This book was written in 1976, which is why it has some anachronistic comments: typewriter instead of laptop, polaroid instead of digital photograph, secretaries including individual! secretaries , Japan as a shining example, etc. All the same, people who do well at meetings work something like this book advises.

    1. General rules
      1. Separate Content (what - problem, topic, agenda) from Process (how - approach, method procedure)
        1. group must agree on common problem and common process
      2. Every meeting (>4-5) needs a traffic cop
        1. ensure open and balanced conversation
        2. protect individuals from personal attach
      3. Every participant should have one role (observer, contributor, traffic cop)
        1. it is very hard for most people to both manage a meeting AND be a major contributor
        2. if people change roles, they often must do so formallly
          And it usually STILL doesn't work.
    2. Essential roles
      1. facilitator
        1. first agenda item is a good way to setup the facilitator role and the meeting direction
        2. encourage agreement on content (agenda item) and process (how to deal with it)
        3. let group build the agenda, don't overspecify
        4. keep reins loose at first
        5. support the recorder
        6. special techniques
          1. allow silence
          2. refer to group memory (record)
          3. talk little
          4. be positive and encouraging
          5. if there's any mirror surface, watch how you look
      2. recorder
        1. clearly legible record of key ideas on large sheets of paper about the room
        2. support the facilitator
        3. if want to contribute ideas
          The authors imply the recorder can't really say very much and that it's effectively the most "junior" role. So it's not a great role for someone who's supposed to be coming up with a lot of content!
          1. formally take off "recorder hat"
        4. if need to distribute a record of discussions
          jf: Assemble digital photos of paper sheets into PDF document, distribute PDF or print (use 4-up if available on a high resolution printer)
      3. manager/chairperson
        1. set ground rules and constraints
        2. define objectives and goals
          these may be redefined however
        3. manager decides if consensus cannot be reached
          since manager is part of consensus, they can always get their way, but obviously this is a "last resort"
        4. delegate meeting setup and followup to staff
        5. develop process and content agenda
          circulate agenda at least one day in advance
        6. attendees and role assignments▀
        7. decide meeting type
      4. group member
    3. Techniques
      1. record ideas without credit
        give group ownership
      2. define constraints
      3. global techniques
        See also cognitive science notes.
        1. avoid arguing for one's own views
          but do try to argue for other's views, especially if you don't agree with them
        2. when stalemate occurs, look for next most acceptable alternative
        3. be suspicious of quick agreement
        4. avoid conflict-reducing techniques (vote, coin toss, etc)
          strive for group agreement
    4. Task Forces
      1. someone must accurately represent every point of view
      2. if consensus cannot be reached then produce summary document
        1. problem definition
        2. analysis
        3. alternatives (with advantages and disadvantages)
        4. majority and minority position statement (option)
    5. Meeting Types
      1. problem-solving
      2. decision-making
      3. planning
      4. reporting and presenting
      5. feedback
    6. Meeting types by size
      1. 2-7
        1. pass around facilitator hat
        2. pass around recorder role and use a facilitator/recorder
        3. as approach 6-7 participants formalize roles
      2. 7-15
        allegedly the ideal size for problem-solving, decision making
        1. allocate facilitator and recorder
      3. 15-30
        1. too large for most useful meetings
        2. usually must break-up into subgroups
      4. 30+
        beyond scope of this book
    7. Tools
      1. Generating Alternatives (problem solving techniques)
        some of these are my own notes
        1. state the problem as a question, avoid yes/no formulation
        2. lasso for definitions
          1. write out problem
          2. circle key terms and ask for definition
        3. is/is not
          1. list facts that are true about the problem
          2. list facts that are not true
        4. break down into sub problems
        5. shift from top-down to bottom-up analysis
          when get stuck in one direction, change to another
        6. identify the general class of problem or a similar problem in a different domain
          humans seem to have special "affordances" or cognitive techniques for solving problems that are expressable as social interactions
          1. ask what others have done
        7. brainstorming
          lots of ideas, no criticism
          1. get set: extra recorders, audio recordings
          2. set time limit (next 7 minutes ...)
          3. set objective (75 ideas)
          4. energize the group, watch body language
          5. leader remains neutral
          6. help recorder
          7. encourage, compliment, have ways ready to change parameters, stimulate more ideas
          8. make a clean ending
        8. force-field analysis
          1. visualize boundary between sustaining forces (stop problem from worsening) and restraining forces (stop it from getting better)
        9. balance premature evaluation of ideas and premature fixation (commitment)
          1. if a solution seems to be widely accepted suggest everyone join in attacking it to see how well it stands up
        10. checkerboard approach or morphological analysis
          1. identify two axis (functionality vs. components, products vs. sales, services vs. pricing)
          2. cells (intersections of row and column) are design possibilities
        11. cutting and moving around
          especially useful for sorting and sequencing problems
          1. write down names of entities on cardboard
          2. rearrrange
      2. Evaluation
        1. Explicit criteria and alternatives are expressed and rearranged iteratively
        2. Generating criteria is similar to generating problem solutions
        3. Criteria matrix
          1. alternatives vs. criteria
          2. assign y/n or scale to each cell
        4. rank for preference
          voting is ok here
        5. sort by category
          group first then evaluate
        6. list advantages and disadvantages
        7. what i like ...
          helps avoid fixed positions, esp if done by someone without ownership of idea
      3. Decision Making
        1. Is there anyone who "can't live with ..."
          eliminate items
          1. identify major objections
          2. look for sub-areas of consensus and variations
        2. Straw voting
        3. consensus
        4. executive decision
      4. Planning
        1. list activities, establish precendence network, critical path, dependencies
        2. work backwards
        3. goals and objectives/milestones
    8. 18 steps to a better meeting
      1. Before
        1. who, what, where, when, why, how many
        2. send out agenda
        3. arrive early
      2. Beginning of meeting
        this is a very social time, and very important. often need to relax, get warmed up, humor, socialize, thank participants
        1. start on time
        2. introductions, set expectations
        3. define roles (facilitator, etc)
        4. revise, review, order agenda
        5. set time limits
        6. review action items from prior meeting
      3. During the meeting
        1. focus on the same problem in the same way at the same time
          I'm not sure this is so critical, but that's what the book says!
      4. End of the meeting
        1. establish action items: who, what, when
        2. review group memory (documentation)
        3. next meeting time, date, prelim agenda
        4. evaluate meeting
        5. compliment and thank participants
          encourage, support
      5. After meeting
        1. prepare group memo
        2. follow-up on action items
        3. plan next meeting

    Selling the Invisible

    Harry Beckwith, Selling the Invisible - A Field Guide to Modern Marketing 1997.

    Notes on selling non-material items (services, information, software)

    Ten Things Bob Taught Me

    1. Don't do anything today that can be put off until 5 minutes before the deadline.
    2. Keep a clean desk. (Taught by counter-example)
    3. When skating in a bad part of town, have a slower friend in orange shorts behind you.
    4. If you want to make people talk (sweat), say nothing.
    5. You can wear anything with a good jacket and shoes.
    6. Meetings are for schmoozing, not sitting.
    7. Be careful who you clobber on the basketball court -- they might be faculty.
    8. When someone says "no, no, no, never, absolutely not" they mean "maybe".
    9. You can get a lot of forgiveness with a warm apology.
    10. Don't forget your friends.

    The Mental Efficiency Series

    Published @ 1916 by Funk and Wagnalls, I have several of these books. They are 'self-help' books with a peculiar 19th century Victorian flavor; today they read like friendly advice from a US Marine's drill seargent. If you weary of sensitive, inclusive, and gentle approaches to self-improvement, these books are refreshingly different. I include them here just because of their historical novelty.

    The most interesting are written by Yoritomo-Tashi, a 19th century 'philosopher' with a military background and an interest in self-improvement. The preface claims that in 1914 or so his writings were preserved in an obscure museum in then provincial Japan. The best known of the series is Timidity and How to Overcome It, Funk and Wagnalls, 1916. Translated by Mary W. Artois.





    Author: John G. Faughnan.  The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the page author. Pages are updated on an irregular schedule; suggestions/fixes are welcome but they may take weeks to months to be incorporated. I reserve copyright except where noted, if you want to repost or quote a page just ask. Anyone may freely link to anything on this site and print any page; no permission is needed for linking,  printing, or distributing printed copies.