Ray Dalio, China, and W. Edwards Deming

Post on LinkedIn. 

Chinese-American Misunderstandings, Disputes, and Wars By Ray Dalio, June 18, 2018.

I certainly respect Ray Dalio’s success as an investor, hedge fund manager, and author.  In his article, he includes references from a “wise and high-ranking Chinese official” that compares and contrast the cultural, political and economic differences between the U.S. and China.

The best-kept secret in America is that our system was designed to be continuously improved in pursuit of “a more perfect Union.”  What the design has lacked is a method or operating system that we can “individually” and “collectively” apply in taking action that results in outcomes where everyone benefits or at least, are not any worse off in the long-term.  This “operating system” or paradigm, was discovered by Walther Shewhart and further developed by W. Edwards Deming.  How China reacts if and when we start to leverage the capability of this new operating system will be interesting to watch.

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Suicide, PTSD and Culture – A Deming Perspective

Headline News:  Americans are depressed and suicidal because something is wrong with our culture.  Kirsten Powers, Opinion columnist, USA Today, published 10:27 a.m. ET June 9, 2018 

Post and Discussion on LinkedIn.  As of June 19, 2018, 25,618 views, 96 likes, 48 comments, 12 reshares.

Given human nature and the fact that people are imperfect, there will likely always be suicides.  Studies indicate that there is a correlation between culture and suicide. As a Society, is our system stable, e.g.,  the number of suicides fall within a predictable range, or is it unstable?  The article by Kristen Powers identified “that suicide rates have risen nearly 30% since 1999, making it a national crisis.”  Does the 30% represent special cause variation?  A special cause identifies that based on the numbers, it is a statistically significant shift justifying the conclusion that it is a “crisis.”  If the “30%” represents common cause variation, then the number falls within a predictable range.  Stable does not mean good – just means its predictable.

The so what?  The aim of the Deming system for improvement is to take action that results in outcomes where everyone benefits or at least, are not any worse off in the long-term. This standard cannot be met without an understanding of common and special cause variation. Application of this knowledge significantly increases the probability that needed change will result in improvement – especially one that may require cultural changes.  Deming estimated that failure to understand the difference between common and special cause variation can lead to situations where 95% of action resulted in no improvement. He referred to this as “tampering.” Kristen Powers’ decision of sharing her story can certainly be considered among the positive improvement actions that can be taken.

Supporting Articles and Links

 

Center for Disease Control (CDC)  Suicide rates rising across the U.S.

CDC Vital Signs – Suicides

  • Suicide is a leading cause of death for Americans
  • Suicide is a leading cause of death in the US. Suicide rates increased in nearly every state from 1999 through 2016.
  • More than half of people (54%) who died by suicide did not have a known mental health condition.
  • Suicide rates went up more than 30% in half of the states since 1999.
  • Nearly 45,000 lives lost to suicide in 2016.

Americans are depressed and suicidal because something is wrong with our culture Kirsten Powers, Opinion columnist, USA Today, published 10:27 a.m. ET June 9, 2018 

  • Rather than pathologizing the despair and emotional suffering that is a rational response to a culture that values people based on ever escalating financial and personal achievements, we should acknowledge that something is very wrong. We should stop telling people who yearn for a deeper meaning in life that they have an illness or need therapy. Instead, we need to help people craft lives that are more meaningful and built on a firmer foundation than personal success.
  • But most Americans are depressed, anxious or suicidal because something is wrong with our culture, not because something is wrong with them.
  • Changing our culture is critical. Being honest with others about our own personal struggles and dark nights of the soul is the first step. People on the edge need to hear stories that assure them there is a way through the all-consuming pain to a meaningful life.  

New York Times, Suicides Have Increased. Is This an Existential Crisis? June 23, 2018.

As a behavioral scientist who studies basic psychological needs, including the need for meaning, I am convinced that our nation’s suicide crisis is in part a crisis of meaninglessness. Fully addressing it will require an understanding of how recent changes in American society — changes in the direction of greater detachment and a weaker sense of belonging — are increasing the risk of existential despair.

Empirical studies bear this out. A felt lack of meaning in one’s life has been linked to alcohol and drug abuse, depression, anxiety and — yes — suicide. And when people experience loss, stress or trauma, it is those who believe that their lives have a purpose who are best able to cope with and recover from distress.

Junger’s new book ‘Tribe’ is giving the public exactly the wrong idea about PTSD

BY  | 
  • Sebastian Junger’s book is doing tremendous damage to the public perception of veterans, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicide.
  • Most horrifically, Junger claims that there is no relationship between suicide and combat. This ignores a trove of medical, academic, and journalistic evidence that clearly demonstrates that such a relationship exists.

HOW PTSD BECAME A PROBLEM FAR BEYOND THE BATTLEFIELD

  • Though only 10 percent of American forces see combat, the U.S. military now has the highest rate of post-traumatic stress disorder in its history. Sebastian Junger investigates.
  • Israel is arguably the only modern country that retains a sufficient sense of community to mitigate the effects of combat on a mass scale.
  • Another Israeli researcher, Reuven Gal, found that the perceived legitimacy of a war was more important to soldiers’ general morale than was the combat readiness of the unit they were in.
  • Given the profound alienation that afflicts modern society, when combat vets say that they want to go back to war, they may be having an entirely healthy response to the perceived emptiness of modern life.
  • It might also begin to re-assemble a society that has been spiritually cannibalizing itself for generations. We keep wondering how to save the vets, but the real question is how to save ourselves. If we do that, the vets will be fine. If we don’t, it won’t matter anyway.

Repeal the Second Amendment?

 

Following is a summary of a discussion on LinkedIn discussing the NYT Op-ed submitted by retired Supreme Court Justice Stevens: John Paul Stevens: Repeal the Second Amendment , March 27, 2018.

Does the discussion reinforce the need for a new approach to help resolve controversial issues?

The debate focuses on the “meaning” and interpretation of the second amendment from a legal perspective.  A different approach is looking at the issue not from an original meaning but from the original intent.

The aim of the design of the U.S. political system was to form “a more perfect” union (original intent). Working towards this aim from a Deming perspective would equate to taking action that results in a situation where everyone gains, or at least, are not any worse off in the long-term.

The challenge becomes to identify the feedback people need to assess if a change makes things better or worse.  Deming suggests looking at things from four perspectives: Psychology (motivation), Systems (action) Variation (feedback), and Knowledge (learning).

Psychology is the study of human behavior and what motivated it.  For many, guns in America are an integral part of our history, culture, identity, strength, sense of security, and freedom. Guns are also a symbol.  Many of the comments on the post reflect this perspective.

There is also the philosophic perspective regarding the nature of man – all humans have the capability of being good and evil which reinforces an individual’s desire for self-defense and self-reliance.   And further, some have more confidence in government’s ability to protect them than do others.  For many, the 2nd amendment is an insurance policy – you may never need it, but nice to have – just in case.

A System includes laws and interpretation of the laws.  I can’t add much to the current debate on the 2nd amendment.  I think both sides have goods arguments. Unfortunately, the debate will be never ending depending on who has the most votes at the time. Conservative will vote one way and liberals the other, e.g., zero-sum that indicates a stable (predictable) system.

Variation is the gap between the ideal situation (more perfect) and actual. From an “originalist” position, repealing the 2nd Amendment is tampering – which makes things worse.  From a “living document” perspective, repeal is an improvement.

The variation principle also provides a new standard that can be applied for assessing the efficacy of gun control laws.  It also provides a new perspective on looking at all the factors that contribute to unnatural deaths from crime, accidents, disease, addictions, war, et.al.  What are the trends?  What are the priorities for improvement? What is working? What is not?

Knowledge. What are we learning?   The responses to the post identify individual views and passion on the topic.  In regard to repeal, whoever has the most votes will “win.”  Even if the votes are there to repeal, many will not accept any ruling that conflicts with their belief that they have right to keep and bear arms.  The U.S. is not Australia where the population volunteered to turn in their guns.

A way-ahead?   Start with the variation principle. Get agreement on the methodology and data e.g., the facts regarding deaths due to the misuse of guns. To provide context, I would also include comparisons with other deaths by other causes. Any successful long-term solution will need to acknowledge and address the cultural aspects (psychology) that are an inherent part of the 2nd  amendment.

Assess your knowledge of the variation principle.

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Most Americans believe the management world is flat. Do you?

Imagine you lived at a time in history when it was an accepted belief that the earth was flat. Now imagine you started hearing the claims that the earth was round – that new continents were discovered. Would you have cared, or would you have wanted to learn more?”

“Men occasionally stumble over the truth but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened.”—Winston Churchill

In 1924, Dr. Walther Shewart discovered a new paradigm for managing variation. Variation is a law of nature that states that no two things or people will ever be ever exactly alike – everything varies.

W. Edwards Deming was a student and colleague of Dr. Shewhart.  Deming’s contributions in developing the paradigm were recognized by U.S. News and World Report as one of the nine turning points in world history and by Fortune Magazine as among the greatest contributions to business history.

Deming concluded that failure to understand the variation paradigm resulted in a situation where ninety-five percent of changes made by management today result in no improvement. We are all managers in one role or another.

Deming further concluded that prevailing style of management resulted in devasting consequences on our economy and ability in working together in pursuit of a more perfect union.

What is the world’s most underdeveloped nation?With the storehouse of skills and knowledge contained in its millions of unemployed, and with the even more appalling underuse, misuse, and abuse of skills and knowledge in the army of employed people in all ranks in all industries, the United States may be today the most underdeveloped nation in the world.”   W. Edwards Deming

Assess your knowledge of  the variation paradigm

A way ahead?  To develop your knowledge of the variation, start with a developing and interpreting a trend chart.

Corruption: Description and Context

I generally associated the term corruption with illegality.  The Pope identifies a broader definition and context.

Pope Francis: ‘I Am Not Afraid of Sin, I Am Afraid of Corruption’,  by Thomas D. Williams  PH.D.  23 Jan 2018, Breitbart.com

“Corruption – when a person’s conscience no longer registers right and wrong.”

“There is a big difference between corruption and sin, Pope Francis contends, because the sinner can always convert but the corrupt person sees no need for conversion.”

“The corrupt person goes through life taking the shortcuts of opportunism,” said the Pope, “with an air of innocence, wearing the mask of an honest person, which he begins to believe.”

“The corrupt person cannot accept criticism, discredits anyone who criticizes him, tries to belittle any moral authority who would question him, does not value others and insults anyone who thinks differently. If the balance of power permits, he persecutes anyone who contradicts him.”

“Unfortunately, Francis said, the problem is widespread.”

Indiana High School Graduation Rates

QUESTION: Since 2010-11, have any of the increases and decreases in the graduation rate been significant or do they indicate that the system is producing results within a normal range?

Pre-Test: Assess your knowledge of variability

Indiana’s high school graduation rate slipped last year, Indianapolis Star, USA TODAY NETWORK, Jan 12, 2018

Indiana’s high school graduation rate slipped in 2017, falling nearly two points from the previous year and dropping to its lowest point in the past six years.

The decline was the largest single-year drop in the past 11 years, the time span in which state data was immediately available.

Trend Chart

Data:

  • 2010-11: 87.1
  • 2011-12: 88.7
  • 2012-13: 88.6
  • 2013-14: : 89.8
  • 2014-15: 88.9
  • 2015-16: 89.1
  • 2016-17: 87.2

Reference: (Source of Data:   School and Corporation Data Reports

More Information: Institute for Healthcare Improvement: