All entries for October 2005

October 12, 2005

Measurements or why we need to study physics.

Deming’s system of profound knowledge is a really powerful theory, once again it was proved during today’s seminars. Deming’s ideas seem to be very holistic and the more I know about it, the more connections I see with another fields of knowledge.

Today’s observation is devoted to measurements. Since quite recently (I think the end of 80’s of the last century) measurements of business results were obviously too shallow due to the fact that Deming’s ‘Appreciation for a system, Knowledge about variation, Theory of knowledge’ were totally ignored while performing business measurements. ‘Be guided by theory, not numbers’ – looks quite simple at the first glance, but appeared to be quite hard to understand and realize. Only in 1992 Kaplan & Norton published the article about the principles of the Balanced Scorecard, which presents a balanced approach to business measurements. However, even nowadays lots of companies widely use paired comparisons measurements and measurements against targets, not realizing how limited this approach is and how many difficulties it produces.

As I have already mentioned below, I am a physicist (at least I have a graduate diploma in solid state physics). When a scientist performs some experiments (read making measurements) with an object, a Black Box, if he/she does not have a theory or some models about this Black Box constitution, the experiments are useless. Because the data he/she receives can not add anything to the understanding of the Black Box. This data is rubbish. I feel this fact is clear for any second-year postgraduate students of Physic Department. Nevertheless, business community probably haven’t learnt physics very hardly.

The most important thing is to be conscious about why you need to measure something. To my mind, the measurements must be justified by one of the following criteria:

  • Do the measurements we perform help us to understand the system/business processes we deal with?

  • Do the measurements we perform help us to understand what particular part of the system/ business process can be improved?

  • Do the measurements we perform help us to understand are our improvements successful?

In the logical consequences it can be presented as follows:


October 10, 2005

Can we measure immeasurable things?

It is said that the most important things can not be measured.

I dare to make one amendment to this classic point – the most important things can not be measured DIRECTLY.

I graduated from the Physics department of Nizhny Novgorod University and during my last two years of study I dealt with the things which no one has ever seen and very unlikely will see in the nearest future. I don’t want mention these things here in order not to confuse anybody, you should trust me. However, I know for sure that humans in general, and physicists in particular deal with immeasurable things quite successfully. And the reason is if the thing exists it shows itself. It shows itself by interactions with the surroundings, by its reaction on internal actions and so on. Realizing how it influences on some measurements which we are able to perform (and which give us some ‘integral’ figures), we only have to find and to separate its participation on this process. Of course it sounds much easier that it is, but it is possible to do. And there are several things from the ‘Requirements’ part of our Excellence picture, which I feel must be measured:

  • Employees’ involvement and participation
  • Cooperation, not competition
  • Awareness of all stakeholders needs
  • Sharing knowledge
  • (the list may be continued)

The measurement of immeasurable things could be a great subject for the course project, isn’t it?


Re: What is the excellence anyway?

Today we have tried to answer on the question posted in the title of this message. Despite we have some knowledge about this subject (quite limited, but we have it) we started coping with it from the very beginning. We put our ideas quite randomly, basing on our own feelings rather than knowledge, and after collecting a huge number of ideas we (with the help of our tutor) grouped it.

Firstly, I was quite sceptical about it, but after a while I realized that this approach reveals some things which had not been clear to me before.

  • It’s not possible to give a simple definition to the 3E.
  • Trying to create the universal definition to the 3E we traced the way which the creators of EFQM had already passed. It was a really amazing feeling and it was an extremely useful experience.
  • The way how EFQM presents its Excellence model is not awkward, as I was prone to think few days ago. Moreover, I realized that this is probably the only way how so complex and holistic theory can be organized and presented.

Today I devoted 2 hours of my life to answering on a very complicated question. Before starting to do it I was not sure if it worth doing, or we should try to find the answer in the relevant literature. I have learnt a very important thing due it. The thing is that even if the question seems very hard and there are not many chances that the right and holistic answer will be found, however, the process of answering is worth doing. It can really help you to become closer to the answer, besides, it can highlight some absolutely new thing which are valuable itself. I will definitely use in my life.


October 05, 2005

Am I supposed to be shallow?

Having spent almost 30 hours reading different materials about Excellence models, I come to the conclusion that's not possible to gain a "profound knowledge" in this field for this time. Every particular subject could be a PhD thesis. Moreover, not having a more or less strict guideline I had to spend a considerable amount of time either on sorting the information, or to structuring it.

However, now I’ve got some knowledge connected with Excellence models. But I am prone to consider it as a quite superficial one. Several things really disturb me due to this:
1) Is the level I’ve reached enough in term of course requirements?
2) Have I reached the level that I had to?
3) Is it going to be less stressful after a while?

Probably, since the module haven’t officially started yet, all my concerns are not serious, but I am really afraid to be shallow.


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  • Any additional marks, whichever module they were added to would help the overall average score. I sh… by on this entry
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