All entries for February 2009

February 24, 2009

Taguchi for PIUSS PMA

I read about Taguchi experimental design today for PIUSS PMA. It is about designing and conducting experiments to optimise the design of paper aeroplanes. Essentially this entails (lila's favorite word) repeating exactly what we did during PIUSS for paper helicopters except this time I need to do it on my own.

The main reason why this question appeal to me better than other questions is that it is different from all the pma's we've done before. This is more hands on, practical which could potentially be a lot of fun. And since I will be doing all of the work, I have a real sense of ownership for whatever outcome that comes out of this exercise. Well, I know this is only paper aeroplanes and not designing , for example, a new jet engine, but wouldn't it be nice to have a pma that we will enjoy doing?

Well, if you enjoy doing experiment you would probably learn a lot more. I have a slight advantage in this respect since I did an undergraduate degree in science which invovled a lot of experimentations. So I am quite familiar with experiments and the subsequent report writing (having doing hundreds of them in my undergraduate !). But honestly speaking, experiment is fun if we do it once in a while, it becomes real pain when it becomes like a job, it's really hard to get used to the repetition, tedious procedures, and most frustrating of all, crap results!

Going through Graeme's notes on Taguchi definitely made things much clearer now, espcially the calculations and why they are done in a certain way. The content isn't too difficult to follow, only about 37 pages and by the end you will get a good gist of how to do Taguchi.

Just while I am on the topic, I am also considering changing the subject of the experimental study, trying to find something else to improve it's design that is not just simple paper aeroplane. I am a bit short on the ideas for now, hopefully something interesting will come up before I get started on the actual experiments.

Unlike FACS (growl ~~) , I think I am going to enjoy this PMA :)



February 10, 2009

Changing focus

Lately I have been having a feeling that the content of MBE modules are shifting somewhat towards greater technicality and complexity. In PIUSS many of us were suddenly hit by a whole lot of statistics which many of us found challenging and unfamiliar. Now in PEUSS, there seems to be endless numbers of techniques or procedures we are suppose to learn. This trend seem to continue in our next module in Robust Design with probably more techniques that are heavily Engineering/Manufacturing orientation. Before this we were learning more about principles of things like Deming, TQM, Business Excellence, and Quality philosophies... It is probably a good thing that we are getting a taste of different styles of learning and materials, but admittedly this sudden change in focus did come as a surprise and is a little hard to adjust. Since in previous year, this degree was called Electronic Engineering Excellence (EEE) so I am guessing that is the reason for the stuff we we being taught now,although the name has changed to Managing Business Excellence (MBE), the content of the course hasn't.

Is this a good thing to be happening? Well I wouldn't complain too much about it. Afterall, it is what it is, even though some of us may not like it, I can see that tutors are trying to make things relevant to student from non-engineering background. Personally, I prefer the stuff we did before like CBE, GBE, LE, OPP because they seem relevant in every business/organisations. But studying all these "theories" can be a bit "empty" or "high level" sometimes, it doesn't feel like we are learning something concrete. On the contrary, Six sigma and Design for Six Sigma is very concrete, these are tools that are applied in project design or process improvement. So we are getting a bit of both theoretical and practical education here.

What I really enjoy, and just begining to realise now, is kind of the whole idea of "management". The way I see it is that we are not just learning about business management. Yes they are the context in which we carry out our learning. But I see a grander level of management in all the things we are doing. Learning about managing self discipline, managing teams, understanding psychological factors, critical thinking, self reflection etc. Blogging for example, is a powerful tool to learn about ourselves. Through jotting down thoughts about ANYTHING, we develop a greater ability for critical thinking, for writing, and for expressing our opinions. What Paul said earlier was very true and I always think back to his words. This year is an opportunity for us to develop key skills that will accompany us throughout our life. The great thing is, we can make mistakes and not be expected to pay for them. I can blog anything and not having to worry whether other people will judge me for what I said. I can learn to take lead in group situation and not be expected to be punished if I fail. I can learn to express freely anything I don't like about the class and not worry about losing my job. There is much we can learn to experiment and may not have same luxury once we leave.

Today on facebook, a friend from New Zealand asked me whether my course is challenging. My immediate thought was "No, not really, I really enjoy it, so it must not be too hard, because how can something enjoyable be challenging?". But then I think back to my undergraduate degree in science, many of the classes was quite challenging but none of that really taught me the stuff I think I should know. This year, will be a chance for me to explore things I am interested in knowing, and perfecting skills I am keen on developing. I should not let it go to waste.


February 05, 2009

Erdogan and Peres– On Gaza– World Economic Forum

It was aykut who mentioned about this video to me last week. I didnt get around to viewing it until today. Thought I will post two opposing views from Turkey & Israel Priministers. Peres, especially gave a very passionate speech about Israel's generosity to the Palenstinians but only to be treated with hostile attacks. Erdogan's speech was translated version but basically he was saying killing is wrong using the Six Commandment from the Bible. Also that "one minute, one minute, one minute, one minute...." & "I don't think I will come back because you don't let me speak :'(" part was pretty funny...... But anyway....both great speech from both sides

Peres on Gaza

[media] [/media]

Erdogan on Israel's killing

[media] [/media]



February 02, 2009

Quick reflection to Kenichi Ohmae Interview

Finally it's finished... the translation was not as tiring as I thought, took me maybe 3 hours all together. I hope the language is easily accesible.

I didnt translate the entire interview because some of it is of little relevance to the class. Only the part on the Economy and devloping our own personal competencies I thought is quite useful to everyone.

When Ohmae talked about developing our own "global perspective", it really resonate with a voice inside me. "That's bloody right!" I thought to myself. The world is changing too fast and if we don't keep up with it, how can we compete with billions of people out there looking for jobs.

In researching world events, Ohmae says "Don't just read books and magazine, find a theme". I also agree with this, reading newspapers and magazine, we are just digesting what other people thinks. We need our own view. If someone ask me "So... Louis, what is your view on the current situation faced by the manufacturing industry?". Which by the way is a perfectly plausible question in an job interview, at least I will already have prepared a unique answer up my sleeve. Because of this, I have decided I will spend every Sunday in researching something. And I will start with the financial crisis....

I also really like what he said about the ability to communicate, organise opinions and execute on decision. This is a major challenge I faced during the PIUSS aeroplane building activity. There was so many "opinions", eveybody has a different view on how to best approach the DMAIC cycle. What does a leader need to do to best accomodate those different voices? One lesson I learnt from Graeme, I think is that a leader sometimes has to prioritise the opinions according to their importance. If an opinion is "useful", it must be made #1. On the other hand, if an opinion is "interesting" but not really "useful", then the leader must learn to say "no" to the group member. A useful thing to say is "Your idea is very interesting, but right now we must focus on the main topic, let's talk about it next". This will give the leader a better leverage in managing the group dynamics which sometimes can be quite tough indeed.


Interview with Kenichi Ohmae – Part 2– On developing Core Competencies

Writing about web page /kangfan/entry/six_sigma_and_1_2/

Writing about an entry you don't have permission to view

From (Taiwan Business Weekly). Translated by Kang Louis Fan 02/02/09. All right reserved.  

The three key skills of Generation Y : Communication, Seeking answer, Global perspective

Q: If we don’t respond immediately to the external environment, then how do we prepare ourselves for the upcoming economic winter?

A: First, Cash is King. Second, now is not the time to change jobs. Invest in yourself; especially carefully examine what you know of the information in front of you, building your own unique view of the world. For example, did you know because US is no longer the powerhouse it used to be, China is also experiencing change but not because of the financial storm but China is redefining its role in the world after the Olympics

My advice for the Taiwan Generation Y is simple. Invest in yourself, so that you can become a strong leader in any nation and situation. Don’t limit your scope to Taiwan.

Q: What kinds of competitive skills are required?

A: Three key skills. First, language and communication skills. Not only language, but the ability to understand others. For example, you could forcibly say “Finish all these readings by Wednesday!” You could also say “Do me a favour, please return these notes back to me by Friday, is that alright?” It’s the same thing, but communicated in different way. In multi-cultural, regulation and situations, having the ability to communicate is everything. Because everybody has a different opinion, so you must be able to organise these opinions, execute, and deliver your goal. This is the only skill you need to develop in the business world.

Second, when you have a problem, you must find the facts, and let the facts talk. Before you confirm the causes, don’t try to do anything. Analyse the root cause of the matter, find the real solution to the problem. This is the golden skill: not relying solely on a single source of information, the skill to find the real answer is the true skill. Sometimes to have insight into a problem you must try to escape from your current company position.

After your acquired the first two skills, the third skills is to know what is going on in the world. Let yourself form your unique perspective on the world events. This third skill is vitally important, because it can shape your career plans and future plans, understand what you really want to do with your life.

Even now I choose a country every year, studies it. Last year it was Romania, now it’s Russia, next year will be Indonesia.

Q: But we must consciously learn to solve problems?

A: Yes, not just read books or magazine. You need a theme. Search on the internet or travel to the locations, then your will have a unique understanding, have your own perspective on world events is very important.

Also, you might find yourself lacking one or two skills, or wanting to develop three skills. Like in addition to Chinese, English and Japanese, you may feel you need another language. But you must have the third skill (Understand the world). Because business opportunities is always out there, if everybody look for opportunities in the same area, there will be none left. Because by then all the rich, the speedy, and the strongest have already exploited it. Later entrants must explore outside the current realms. Because to know these business opportunities, you must make some assumptions. Luckily, now you can also search on the internet, without travelling there necessarily.

Q: International Labour Organisation published in 2009 there will be 2 billion people out of work. For the unemployed, what advice do you give them?

A: You start again. Don’t worry about starting from scratch. Isn’t there an old saying, “don’t cry over a bottle of spilled milk” Because it’s already spilled. If you got laid off, then face it. Relax; you have work hard for most of your life. Now is the time to take a break. You won’t die of hunger and besides, you are free.

Being unemployed is the best time to learn, it is more scary to work for company that will go bust next year

This is a good time to learn. In Japan, if you get laid off you go take classes. In Japan there is a “Hello, Work” program. Many of my friends went to professional training centre. Learn to become a carpenter, sew carpet, learn computer, and continue to work for a company that will go bust is what worry me even more.

Q: So you are optimistic about the problem we are facing?

A: In my life experience, worrying cannot solve anything. But when I try to improve but still it doesn’t help, I worry too. But in my experience, worry does not solve problem, you must do something.

Until now, you have a good fighting spirit. You can always rise from a fall, right? If you stop fighting, stop raising yourself to the next level. You’re finished. If you want to have control of your own life, your must continue to challenge and improve yourself.


Interview with Kenichi Ohmae – Part 1– On the Economy

Writing about web page /kangfan/entry/six_sigma_and_1_2/

Writing about an entry you don't have permission to view

From (Taiwan Business Weekly). Translated by Kang Louis Fan 02/02/09. All right reserved.  

Trend Master –

Japan’s trend master Kenichi Ohmae, witnessed oil crisis and Japan’s bubble economy, comment on how to survive in the next ten years of instability. In face of change, he recommend people not to react too soon to ‘appearance’, wanting to find answers, there should be a ‘systematic thinking’ find the root cause of the problem, then you can spot opportunity and strength, and find business opportunities.

Ohmae point out, the financial crisis make the international situation changeable, USA is no longer the country it used to be. Since Taiwan is a “handler economy”, in the past it has used China’s cheap labour and export, but has not establish a strong foundation, so it is easily affected by the current credit crunch, it must ‘think’ from the crisis, what can be relied on, what to hold on to, so it won’t get washed out.

He also thinks, even though China’s growth rate is now only 4-5%, this giant economy will not go away, Taiwan can still use the interval while China is readjusting it’s economy, learn something from it.

For individuals facing lay off or unpaid work, Ohmae suggests “don’t cry over a bottle of spilled milk”, people should actively seek learning, challenge personal abilities. For fresh graduates, he suggests using internet and your two feet to verify facts, develop your communication, analytical, and discovery skills, develop un-replaceable DNA. The following is the interview

Q: Japan in the 1990 after the bubbling of its economy, went through 10 years of misery. How long do you think Japan will take to rise again?

A: Ten years, maybe worse, because every government are promising what they can’t deliver. You have to recognise all financial crisis goes through three stages. The US credit crisis in Oct 2008 was phase 1. The second phase is banks encounter difficult in accessing credit, because of its low stock share values, it cannot secure additional fund from the share market. Third phase is closing down of business. Only when three problems are solved, there can be resurrection of the economy.

Q: But every government is trying to save the economy, will it really take ten years?

A: Dealing with financial crisis has three principles. First you have to see it as a systematic problem, not one of individual banks. Second, understand what will be the consequence, so you can find the answer at first instance. Third is to establish international bodies to prevent this from happening again.

Spending is not the only answer, because someone has to pay it back

The above three point, US failed them all. The American treasurer Hank Paulson put personal benefits into his financial decisions, reacting only to single phenomenon. He allows Lehman Brothers to fall, but save Citi group, only because his old boss Robert Rubin was Citi’s ex-CFO, it’s all personal. US government, organisations and scholars, until now has only panicked, even Paul Krugman, or other scholars is telling people to spend, spend, spend, we have to learn from “Roosevelt Junior ” policy , this is laughable. This is not the most important task, because reckless spending needs to be paid back.

Q: So, the root cause of the problem is from US, the drive to solve the problem is also in US?

A: This is US’s mistake; it is the same as blaming China for spreading virus, poison milk. US spread viral financial product, set the world in fear and chaos, just like China’s poisonous dumplings. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae sold 5 trillion securities to the world because S&P says it’s an AAA product, they let the financial risk spread the world.

Nobody know what is in these financial derivatives, it’s like the China’s dumpling, nobody knows what is inside, it might be port, beef, rabbit or cat meat. They have to understand, this is US who committed the biggest crime of history, US must admit its mistakes.

Q: If it take tend years to revive the economy, will Taiwan follow Japan’s footstep of 15 years prolonged decline? At the moment Japan has awaken from its decline?

A: Welcome to the club (smile). But if you are like Japan you count yourself lucky, Japan has strong base support, not like a sponge bouncy and unstable (moves his hand up and down as if he is patting a sponge). Japan has huge savings, strong technological and financial support.

Taiwan has not, Taiwan’s economy is “pass through” economy, buy component parts worldwide, assemble in China and sell to the rest of the world. There is nobody who start from the component parts, except for TSMC or UMC, nobody really manufacturer anything, that is why you are eager to use China’s labour and market.

Q: Taiwan’s economy, how does business and individual face?

A: Relax

Q: Relax?

A: Relax a bit, your problem is not serious as Guangdong, go to Guangdong and see, their main export is US, they are affected worse, so is India because their technology product sell to US financial services, now these financial services don’t want it anymore.

In this time Taiwan to think about its root. When crisis strike, what can we rely on, what should we hold on so we don’t get washed over?

China is undergoing a big readjustment; you should focus on China’s readjustment. If I am a Taiwanese, I will use China’s readjustment to find business opportunities.

Q: Like what you mean?

A: Economy like China will not disappear, it will only change its core qualities, change by itself is very difficult, but if the Chinese people lose jobs, they will open up job training classes, retrain the Chinese people. If China lose job they will need to raise their abilities, Taiwanese will set up training schools. You don’t need to worry; I believe Taiwan will find opportunities from China’s problems.

You can also look more deeply into China’s internal demands, transfer product and services to China. This is what Europe and US and Japan wanted to do, but Taiwan understand China better than no one else. Taiwan speaks Japanese, Chinese and English. This is “golden combination”. Nobody else can do that: only person who understand the three main markets is Taiwanese.

Q: You are not worried about China’s housing market setting China’s economy in decline?

A: China’s real estate agents should worry, but not for other people. China’s economy has grown 11% in the past years, even if it lowers 1-2%, it is still a very good economy, and it is beyond what you can have. Even if China’s economy only grows 4-5%, Taiwan can still adjust its pace and redefine the Chinese market and gain from it.

Q: What about the future of other Asian countries?

A: Be aware of Korea. Korea is focusing on GDP growth. Many years ago Japan has given up on focusing on GDP growth, now we are #20, we no longer talk about economy growth, this implies GDP is no longer important, but Korea continues to emphasise that they have 7% growth, GDP as world’s 7th largest economy etc

Every time they grow, they all know its bubble economy, then get pulled back to reality. Putting emphasis on GDP is a big problem because their economy growth has no base support. They have no talent, basic infrastructure, no component manufacturers, and no equipment design. They go to China to manufacture and sell them to other places. This is very empty. Now they are pulled back to reality and discover they haven’t grown much in the past 15 years.


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