All entries for Wednesday 25 February 2009

February 25, 2009

Six Sigma and the enviroment

Working on PIUSS, 6 Sigma in my mind..

A couple of weeks ago I read an interview with an government officer defending that the amount of kids per couple should be controlled. The idea is that the world was not able to sustain more people. It is an understandable idea but not a simple explanation for 3 reasons:

-In most developed countries the population stable or even decreasing (Italy, France, etc)

-In several other big countries (developing and developed) the growth is rather small and mainly caused by immigration (Brazil, US, China...)

-The biggest growth is in very specific and usually poor countries (most of Africa, India, etc)

The consumption level of resources per capta is VERY small on most of the high growing countries and is massive on the rich developed countries (specially the US). That combination of factor is helping balance the situation.

I was discussing this matter with an expert about 1,5 years ago. And he told his major concern was not population growth or even increase in consumption of resources per capta but the amount of waste. He gave me an example that I found rather shocking. He said that the most efficient explosion engines only used about 14-18% of the energy potential contained on the fuel. All the rest was wasted on noise, smoke, lack of appropriate technologies, etc...Basically only about 200ml of each litre of fuel we use is really used to move the cars, all the rest is WASTED. He gave several other examples related tp water and paper. It was shocking.

I took 2 lessons out of the combination of the information's above. 1st. reducing waste, using everything more efficiently, recycling is an easier, quicker and more efficient way of helping save the planet. Imagine if we could reach a 6 Sigma kind of level to the usage of resources, being wasting anything an defect? Would we be saving the world?  Reducing variation and increasing efficiency on the process would certainly be a more noble (and in the long term better financially speaking) reason to use Six Sigma like techniques to improve production an processes...

Second lesson learned. Try not to waste. Water is scarce, energy too. Everything has an environmental cost and someday, be sure of that, that price is going to reflect on the actual financial cost of things. Water will be expansive, paper too. And depending how we handle it now things can be only reasonably expensive, not unaffordable...


MBE Education and variation…

Follow-up to Education and variation from Francisco's blog

Just came to my mind, after writing my last entry that the same way of thinking also applies to MBE. For example WMG`s process of moderating marks is just a way of trying to reduce variation in a subjective process. As we know taking variation is good, but in the specific process of moderation is it really good? Some prople might have their marks reduced, by that process. The moderator puting his finger is not a bit of tempering? Sometimes can`t this process be unfair if somebodys note is reduced (it seems that the answer would be know, since the module tutor could insist in the mark even if the moderator considered it too high, but is just a thought)

Just thinking....

 


Education and variation

I had tennis lessons when I was a kid (5-6 years old) and them another 2-3 years when I was about 19-20 years old and I having again now. I still prefer football but I rather enjoy tennis. I found tennis lessons here rather diferent from Brazil.

There are some diferences that are related to socio-economical issues and I will not discuss them. But one is the method. Things here are very technical and formal. Limits and standarts are very clearly adressed, processes and strategies clearly defined, method is very, very structured. In Brazil classes where less formal and structured, more improvisation, less theory and explanations.

I was thinking about that and a story came to my mind. Many years ago I read an interview with Alan Prost. He is a French who was one of the most successful formula 1 drivers ever. The interview was conducted by a Brazilian Magazine, therefore he talked a lot about Brazilian pilots. At that point, 2 of the top 4 pilots in the world were Brazilian (Ayrton Senna and Nelson Piquet). The reporter asked how could a poor country, with no special tradition in motor racing or car industry be so good ate producing pilots. Prost answered by giving an example. He said that if there were 2 pilots, being one Brazilian, racing on the desert and there was a traffic light with the red light on,the non-Brazilian would stop and wait  for the green light while the Brazilian would stop, look and if seeing nothing would go on. Taking away the bad example safety-citizen wise what he said is that Brazilians tend no to ne too attached to rules, to value improvisation and creativity. That fits very well in the stereotype the world has of us and the way people see our football, for instance.

Now what has that to do with the first bit I wrote? Well, in Brazil tennis lessons valued the Brazilian way of seeing things, the improvisation while here they are about a disciplined and structured process. In England they care more about variation, their tennis lessons are more 6 sigma, one could say. I think that style is better to produce regular tennis players, it will certainly fit more people and raise more people to a satisfactory level therefore is more appropriate for the objectives of tennis lessons in the level I intend to play. I would recommend the English Style as a better one just as I would recommend it  to an industry producing millions of products or conducting repetitive processes (what 6 Sigma was designed for). 

But there is a catch. If you talking training or producing something special, something that is different and peculiar (a fantastic player or a very specific and peculiar luxury product) perhaps the not-so-technical-and-structured approach could be better. Could make it easier to identify and customise. That`s arguable I recon, but I think that the fact that Brazil goes well in a sport that does not have that much emphasis on repetition but more in improvisation ike football and does not go that well in Tennis could work as a point (but definitely not as an evidence , scientifically speaking).

Yes...crazy and confusing entry really.




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