|By Michael Nir||
|June 23, 2014 02:16 PM EDT||
In order to create the combination between top-down problem-decisions (waterfall like approaches)and local problem-decisions (Agile project approach) here are practical guidelines to pursue
Three practical complex decision-problems guidelines:
- Simple local rules
- Strategic top down rules
- Visual problem view
We describe in detail, each practical guideline, below.
Simple local rules
This cannot be overstated. Local rules must be easy to follow. Whether these are rules for: a machine operator, traveling salesperson, a project coordinator, or you packing your bags.
The local decision rules are the ones mostly used, they must be easy to follow, understandable, and unequivocal. Consider the warehouse forklift operator who is re- stocking raw material. If she needs to follow a complex decision protocol for placing newly arrived material in the warehouse, it would result in chaos.
Instead, we need to equip her with an easy to follow mechanism for stocking the warehouse.
One such mechanism is FIFO - First In First Out. This is also the rule, you're following when stocking your fridge with groceries, if you don't want dairy products to go sour.
Supermarkets also follow this rule when their organizing their product shelves. At least, they're supposed to follow this rule, otherwise they will have outdated products on display.
The modern big supermarkets actually stock fresh items from the back, ascertaining this way, that older items are pushed forward.
Sly consumers will then pick up dairy products from the back of the shelf if they want to make sure that it is the freshest available.
There is even an acronym that goes along with local rule simplicity which is: KISS - and stands for: keep it simple and straightforward.
The Japanese KANBAN approach which we've previously mentioned, implements an easy to follow rule of thumb.
It is: when you're operating a manufacturing machine, you should only produce when the physical container carrying a finished product in front of you, is empty. In practice this was actualized by using Kanban cards. Kanban is the Japanese word for card.
For manufacturing purposes it much easier for operators to follow this simple rule. However, ordinarily in production floors, operators follow a complex weekly/daily production plan that is very confusing. This is the opposite of simple.
Make your local decision-problem rules are simple
- Travel to the next cheapest destination
- Pack the smallest item first
- Work on the easiest element first
- Stock according to FIFO
Strategic top down rules
The strategic top down rule which we select for our decision-problem has to constrain our decision space.
Consider for example a hospital's most expensive resource - the surgery room. Each such room has to be utilized as much as possible.
Reaching 100% utilization is not feasible - this can be proved using queuing theory; however 85%-90% utilization is desirable. The reason we require high utilization is for the pay back on the investment. The hospital invested money for the equipment in building and equipping the room and wishes to receive a return on the investment.
Hospitals' surgery rooms are generally a resource in shortage, hence there will always be patients requiring the room. It seems logical that the 85%-90% utilization will be easily achieved. This is not that case - the rooms are approximately 65% utilized in many cases - and it is driving the financial officers of hospitals crazy.
It drives them crazy almost to the point that they require ulcer treatment and have to wait in line for the surgical procedure - and yet the operation room is only 65% utilized.
The situation described of having lower utilization than expected and desired has to do with selecting an unsuitable top down problem-decision rule. The hospital schedules surgical procedures, utilizing the operation rooms, by using a monthly plan, as we've illustrated before, the top down plan fails because of many small changes.
What are these small changes and why do they occur?
In order to perform a surgical procedure in the operation room, the room has to be ready - i.e., cleaned, sterilized and with the proper equipment. The surgeon and his staff also have to be ready.
What happens if the surgeon and his staff are ready and waiting, however the room isn't prepped and cleaned?
The impact: we have very expensive employees (the physician, surgeon and others in the team) and a very expensive resource (the surgery room) as well as a prepped patient - all waiting for the room to be cleaned.
Wait a minute - this doesn't make sense you say! Didn't the top-down plan specify that maintenance personal have to be cleaning, equipping and readying the room?
The plan might have have designated and scheduled the cleaning to be performed, however the cleaning staff is currently working in another location and are unavailable for cleaning the specific room.
Crazy - we have two very expensive resources waiting for important yet cheaper staff.
Why aren't there enough cleaning staff?
Because the top down rule, that the ulcer stricken financial officer defined, is based on efficient planning and budgeting of resources. In this plan, it makes no logical sense hoarding on maintenance staff when we can fire them and save...
Thus, selecting the wrong top down planning, decision mechanism leads to an ineffective use of the hospital's expensive resources.
The depicted hospital scenario is quite common in many industries. Eli Goldratt, a physicist by education, claimed that we wrongly select the top down rules to manage our complex systems and to make decisions. Since the top down plan will fail, we won't be using the critical resources in our system optimally. He suggested an alternative top down rule which he presents in five books. The rule he devised is known as the theory of constraints, and in each book he applies it to different departments within a company. In each department the fundamental concept is to analyze the critical resource from the system perspective and utilize it optimally.
The theory of constraints top down problem-decision rule: always protect the most limited and expensive resource. Protect its time, utilization, and allocation.
In the hospital scenario, the top down rule would translate into constructing the plan around the surgery rooms and expert physicians, making sure that the cleaning staff is always ready before time, catering to the room.
The approach translates into a seemingly surplus of maintenance employees, at times wallowing around the corridors having an extra Latte, and contributing to the financial officer's ulcer. The alternative though is worse, unacceptable mediocre utilization of surgery rooms.
There have been many academic critics of Goldratt's approach. However, most demonstrated that his approach fails in extreme conditions. For most business purposes, Goldratt offers a straight forward, intuitive, top down constraining, problem-decision rule.
An alternative to Goldratt's rule in production environment and in project portfolio management can be to limit the overall time or products that are processed. In other words, limit the WIP - work in process.
How would that rule operate in project portfolio management?
The IT or software departments will only accept new project, when their total work in progress is below a certain threshold. The underlying mechanism is of Pull - new projects are pulled into a work status from a backlog waiting queue based on the total number of projects that are at present, concurrently managed.
The constant work in process is an easier to manage rule, however it is difficult to figure the threshold and to commit to it, without surrendering to requests from top management. More on that, later.
Select a resource constraining top down rule, instead of planning the entire system.
Visual problem presentation
‘If we don't see it it's not there'
We assess the world around us through our eyes.
‘A picture is worth 1000 words'
The fundamental principle is that we rather see a graphical representation rather than a list.
‘Seeing is believing'
Philosophically speaking visual presentations can lead sometimes to mistaken results, however more often they DO enable us to clearly see the overall problem.
Since we use our eyes as the tool to capture the world, it is crucial that we inspect and evaluate decision-problems in the same way.
Visual representations of decision-problems enable us to better grasp, the problem, assumptions, constraints, options and solutions.
Reflect for minutes on the traveling salesperson problem. It's much easier to explore a tangible map of 10, 15 or even 30 destinations and analyze possible routes, rather than assess the problem using a table or spreadsheet.
The same is true for production environments. It is easier to solve the complexity of production machine allocations, using visual signals such as Kanban boards and cards, rather than using a computer-generated paper output of production orders.
One of the challenges we've witnessed in managing multi projects in virtual global companies, is that we lacked the visual representation of the activities and projects allocated to resources and people.
Use any relevant tool to display the decision-problem visually.
For example: During a project at a petrochemical plant, we created a war room for the intense 4 months, construction stage. While we had a detailed Gantt chart with over 2000 entrees for specific activities of construction, it made more sense to create huge visual boards depicting daily tasks with resource and people allocated, to display overall allocations, possible collision points, impacts, deadlines, opportunities, and threats.
The strategic top-down rule has to be shown in the visual representation of the problem. Hence, it is not enough to portray the problem using a visual approach, it is also important to superimpose the strategic top-down rule on the visual presentation of the problem.
How can we illustrate the strategic top-down rule on the visual image?
- Using computers this would be done adding an extra layer on top of the decision problem.
- In our physical war room example this was actualized by different colors, stickers and other visual tools to depict the strategic decision rule visually.
- In production floors this would be achieved by adding physical signals, drawing signs and images around and in front strategic human operators, machines and other facilities within the production floor.
Create a visual representation of the complex decision-problem. Use visual methods to illustrate the top-down strategic decision rule
Two more rules:
- Realignments feedback mechanism
• Enforce consistency through publicity
Are presented in the best seller: D-side - practical decision making business Guide
You will also find there more about decision making, it is a a humoristic practical approach to understanding why decisions are so complex and what can be done about it
Technology is enabling a new approach to collecting and using data. This approach, commonly referred to as the "Internet of Things" (IoT), enables businesses to use real-time data from all sorts of things including machines, devices and sensors to make better decisions, improve customer service, and lower the risk in the creation of new revenue opportunities. In his General Session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Dave Wagstaff, Vice President and Chief Architect at BSQUARE Corporation, discuss the real benefits to focus on, how to understand the requirements of a successful solution, the flow of ...
Jan. 30, 2015 03:45 PM EST Reads: 3,123
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.
Jan. 30, 2015 03:15 PM EST Reads: 3,503
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Jan. 30, 2015 02:30 PM EST Reads: 2,694
Performance is the intersection of power, agility, control, and choice. If you value performance, and more specifically consistent performance, you need to look beyond simple virtualized compute. Many factors need to be considered to create a truly performant environment. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, discussed how to take advantage of a multitude of compute options and platform features to make cloud the cornerstone of your online presence.
Jan. 30, 2015 02:15 PM EST Reads: 3,228
In this Women in Technology Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Anne Plese, Senior Consultant, Cloud Product Marketing at Verizon Enterprise, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO at MetraTech; Evelyn de Souza, Data Privacy and Compliance Strategy Leader at Cisco Systems; Seema Jethani, Director of Product Management at Basho Technologies; Victoria Livschitz, CEO of Qubell Inc.; Anne Hungate, Senior Director of Software Quality at DIRECTV, discussed what path they took to find their spot within the technology industry and how do they see opportunities for other women in their area of expertise.
Jan. 30, 2015 01:45 PM EST Reads: 2,357
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
Jan. 30, 2015 01:15 PM EST Reads: 2,617
Wearable devices have come of age. The primary applications of wearables so far have been "the Quantified Self" or the tracking of one's fitness and health status. We propose the evolution of wearables into social and emotional communication devices. Our BE(tm) sensor uses light to visualize the skin conductance response. Our sensors are very inexpensive and can be massively distributed to audiences or groups of any size, in order to gauge reactions to performances, video, or any kind of presentation. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Jocelyn Scheirer, CEO & Founder of Bionolux, will discuss ho...
Jan. 30, 2015 01:15 PM EST Reads: 2,026
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
Jan. 30, 2015 01:00 PM EST Reads: 4,132
“With easy-to-use SDKs for Atmel’s platforms, IoT developers can now reap the benefits of realtime communication, and bypass the security pitfalls and configuration complexities that put IoT deployments at risk,” said Todd Greene, founder & CEO of PubNub. PubNub will team with Atmel at CES 2015 to launch full SDK support for Atmel’s MCU, MPU, and Wireless SoC platforms. Atmel developers now have access to PubNub’s secure Publish/Subscribe messaging with guaranteed ¼ second latencies across PubNub’s 14 global points-of-presence. PubNub delivers secure communication through firewalls, proxy ser...
Jan. 30, 2015 12:45 PM EST Reads: 1,728
We’re no longer looking to the future for the IoT wave. It’s no longer a distant dream but a reality that has arrived. It’s now time to make sure the industry is in alignment to meet the IoT growing pains – cooperate and collaborate as well as innovate. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, will examine the key ingredients to IoT success and identify solutions to challenges the industry is facing. The deep industry expertise behind this presentation will provide attendees with a leading edge view of rapidly emerging IoT oppor...
Jan. 30, 2015 12:45 PM EST Reads: 1,926
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
Jan. 30, 2015 12:00 PM EST Reads: 8,053
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
Jan. 30, 2015 12:00 PM EST Reads: 2,674
"There is a natural synchronization between the business models, the IoT is there to support ,” explained Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect of Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 15th International Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Jan. 30, 2015 11:45 AM EST Reads: 3,626
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
Jan. 30, 2015 11:45 AM EST Reads: 2,784
The BPM world is going through some evolution or changes where traditional business process management solutions really have nowhere to go in terms of development of the road map. In this demo at 15th Cloud Expo, Kyle Hansen, Director of Professional Services at AgilePoint, shows AgilePoint’s unique approach to dealing with this market circumstance by developing a rapid application composition or development framework.
Jan. 30, 2015 11:30 AM EST Reads: 2,328
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
Jan. 30, 2015 11:30 AM EST Reads: 3,062
ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...
Jan. 30, 2015 11:15 AM EST Reads: 3,162
Building low-cost wearable devices can enhance the quality of our lives. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Sai Yamanoor, Embedded Software Engineer at Altschool, provided an example of putting together a small keychain within a $50 budget that educates the user about the air quality in their surroundings. He also provided examples such as building a wearable device that provides transit or recreational information. He then reviewed the resources available to build wearable devices at home including open source hardware, the raw materials required and the options available to power s...
Jan. 30, 2015 11:00 AM EST Reads: 2,444
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover how hardware commoditization, the ubiquitous nature of connectivity, and the emergence of Big Data a...
Jan. 30, 2015 10:45 AM EST Reads: 3,233
The Internet of Things promises to transform businesses (and lives), but navigating the business and technical path to success can be difficult to understand. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sean Lorenz, Technical Product Manager for Xively at LogMeIn, demonstrated how to approach creating broadly successful connected customer solutions using real world business transformation studies including New England BioLabs and more.
Jan. 30, 2015 10:45 AM EST Reads: 2,693