Monday, April 14, 2014

Keeping Backyard Chickens

My chicken journey started in 2013. I was experimenting with gardening, and learned from a library book that chicken manure is prized as a fertilizer. As I investigated further, I learned more about the conditions in which chickens are raised on industrial farms and was very surprised. Partly in protest, partly for the fertilizer, partly in the spirit of experimentation, I decided to try raising a small flock.

The reasons people raise chickens at home are varied, and the trend is growing. No one tracks chicken ownership statistics, but my own experience suggests that the trend is exponential. When I bought my first set of chicks, no one I knew in my suburban community was raising backyard chickens. Twelve months later, five families in our immediate area have started small flocks. Before joining the trend, prospective chicken owners should consider the following points:

.. Check Local Ordinances and Rules

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Saturday, March 1, 2014

A Value-Added Approach to Meetings

Be honest: have you ever taken 1-second naps at a meeting? What if the room is hot, the meeting is after lunch, the topic is boring, and the speaker has the charisma of a rock? Have you ever drawn doodles at a meeting? Daydreamed? Checked your messages?
Do you think it is rude to act bored at a meeting? It isn't. It is rude to have bad meetings. If my meetings are bad, I am at fault. If your meetings are bad, then it is your fault. Most meetings are "BAD" for two reasons: (1) Nobody wants to be there, and (2) Nothing gets done.
Part of the problem is that many meetings are simply not necessary. There is only one reason to ever call a meeting; meetings are to develop shared understanding. If you need shared understanding, call a meeting. Otherwise, don't.
If you must have a meeting, then you owe it to the attendees to plan for success. The first rule of successful meetings is:
Rule #1. Only call a meeting if you plan to keep minutes.
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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Key Performance Indicators in a Nutshell

KPI Definition
Key Performance Indicators (KPI's) are measured evidence that desired business results are being achieved. KPI's are feedback about how the business is performing.

  • KPI's are essentially metrics linked in a meaningful way to an important business objective. These are the "critical few" measures that you need to know to get the job done.
  • Goals define the end results we hope to achieve, and KPI's define the measurements used to monitor progress toward goal attainment.
  • As a general rule, if you will not make business decisions based on a measure, then that measure is not a KPI.

Purpose of KPI's

When structured to reflect business strategy, KPI's provide business owners with answers to important business questions, help managers understand how their organizations are performing in relation to their strategic goals, and provide an indicator to determine whether performance is on track.
The term KPI tends to be misunderstood and overused as a buzzword. The KPI bottom line is that good measurement provides timely feedback to make quality decisions at the right time.
Getting Started with KPI's

  • First, You Have to Understand Your Business and Business Goals. What are your real business objectives and what does success look like for your company? What is its vision and current mission?
  • Second, You Have to Select a Specific Goal That is Important to Achieve. People do not care about measures - they care about problems (i.e., fixing them). To understand your business objectives, it is important to drill down into specific aspects of why your company exists and what is it trying to achieve.
  • Third, You Have to Set Relevant KPI Metrics for A Specific Goal. KPIs are concrete measurements that provide empirical data about your businesses progress. For any active goal, a gap exists between current reality and the desired end state. A KPI measures the size of that current-vs.-desired gap.
  • Fourth, You Have to Define a Specific Data Source and Method for Determining the Value of the KPI. If a KPI is going to be of any value, there must be a way to accurately define and measure it. Data quality matters, but beginning with imperfect data is vastly superior to waiting until perfect data is available.
  • Fifth, You Have to Take Action. Interpret what your KPI is saying, and why. Context is often important, so you may need to view the KPI along with other relevant measures. Most important, make a decision and take action to move closer to your goal.

Two Examples

  • Objective: lose 20 pounds. To achieve this, you set a KPI to illustrate your progress toward your goal. How many pounds do you want to lose each week?
  • Objective: build your cash reserve to $100,000. Your KPI to reach that goal would be to add $10,000 per month to cash reserves. The metric would be how much cash you actually contribute toward the total goal.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Statapult World Record

During green belt training in November 2013, we set a new world record for the statapult simulation. Team BD hit 198 of 203 shots in 5 minutes after reducing the target area from 6" X 12" to 3" X 6". Not quite a six sigma standard of quality (only 98% yield), but impressive given that the baseline shoot was only 7 of 10 hits in the larger target area; production volume went up 2030% while improving accuracy.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Unaware of Danger

In spite of near constant vigilance, chickens are sometimes unaware of obvious dangers. These three hens are very concerned about the imaginary dangers from behind, to the left, and to the right. However, they miss the obvious and near term threat right ahead.

In 50-some-odd performance improvement projects, I have noticed a strong and consistent trend. For every 10 improvements proposed, 8 will be endorsed by the sponsor as valid, and roughly 3 will be implemented.

The reason: proposed improvements almost always focus on the cat ahead, but sponsors see both the cat ahead and the potential cats coming from other directions.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Novel Review: Suburban Days by Aaron U. Bolin

A Novel Review: Suburban Days by Aaron U. Bolin: Reviewed by Charlotte Lynn Taken from Goodreads: Trapped in obscurity, Eric Sage must establish his own identity. He battles a ho...
The Lean Toolbox: The Essential Guide to Lean TransformationThe Lean Toolbox: The Essential Guide to Lean Transformation by John Bicheno
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Lean Toolkit is a concise reference of lean tools and techniques. Every tool is presented with a brief summary and some suggestions for how to apply it.

Overall, I thought it was a valuable reference. It introduced me to several new tools and reinforced many of the tools that were already familiar.

In terms of criticism, this probably isn't a book that you would sit down and read cover to cover. I browsed the topics, and I will return to it periodically as a reference.

I liked it, and I would recommend it for lean students and practitioners.

View all my reviews