Improvement Insights Blog
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The other day, I found myself with a few hours to kill between appointments. I happened to be near the hip, fashionable area of town so I thought I’d wander around and peruse some of the shops. While the past year has been hard on retail businesses and has resulted in the closure of several places I remember, it’s good to see that others have started to spring up in their place.
As I was wandering the aisles at a small, newly-opened clothing store, a voice from behind me called out my name. I turned to see a tall, handsomely dressed man.
Continue Reading "An open and clothed case…"
It’s been an unusual time to be a Freelance Quality Improvement Specialist. In 2019, my business was almost all within 20 miles of my home. As a result of the pandemic I began offering consultations online via video meetings and computer screen sharing. Because of that, I was able to serve clients worldwide in 2020. Now many of those clients refer me to friends and colleagues in their geographic areas, and I’m able to continue to do so for these new clients as well.
Such was the case last week when I received an email from Tom. He began by telling me that he was referred by Mike and Rudy, the co-owners of Schenker Metal.
Continue Reading "Milling in the name of…"
In every town there are locations that emerge as gathering places for people who share similar interests. The musicians in an area might tend to congregate at certain establishments; fans of a particular sports team at other spots, etc. In my area, there’s a place where statisticians and Quality Improvement people go: Pareto’s Big Bar.
As a Freelance Quality Improvement Specialist, I tend to be grouped in with the Q.I. people, but I count quite a few statisticians from that place as friends. My interactions at Pareto’s Big Bar have been less of the “in person” type and more of the “takeout or delivery food” type in recent months, so I miss the comradery and the friendly (if sometimes loud) discussions with other patrons about disputed topics such as Standard Deviation vs.
Continue Reading "Pepperoni, Sausage… and Lutefisk?"
When I was a young, poor college student, I bought a chair at a garage sale. I wasn’t looking for a chair, but this vinyl tufted recliner just called out to me. Since its precarious trip home from that garage sale – upside down on a blanket on the roof of my rusted-out green AMC Hornet – that chair has remained one of the most comfortable chairs I’ve ever sat in.
Recently, I noticed that the years had taken its toll on my old friend: the vinyl was cracked and split with age, the wood was dinged up and faded, and it was in general need of some TLC.
Continue Reading "Boxes, Whiskers and Recliners"
Even though I haven’t been driving my car much lately, I know better than to ignore regular maintenance. Since it had been quite a while since my last oil change, I called a small local shop I know and booked an appointment.
When the time came, I drove in and was greeted in the parking lot by the owner, Greg. I started taking my cars to Greg when he first opened his first shop and have been a regular customer ever since. In addition to Greg’s warm, friendly and easygoing attitude, he knew more about fixing cars than anyone I’d ever met.
Continue Reading "Histograms and… tire stacks?"
I had just finished clearing the snow from my front walk and come inside when I heard the text alert tone from my computer. After kicking off my shoes and hanging up my coat, I checked my phone and found a text from a past client.
“Need help. Would you be available some time for a video call? – Andrew Joseph”
I sent him a message that I was available now if he’d like, and a few minutes later I was sitting in front of my computer with a steeping mug of Earl Grey tea connecting with Andrew.
“Hey there! ” I greeted him.
Continue Reading "Snowy Rides and Short Run Charts"
One of the benefits to being a Freelance Quality Improvement Expert is that I set my own hours. Because of this, I often take time between appointments in the middle of the day to run errands if I happen to be in the area. Earlier this week, I was doing exactly that and picking up a few things at a grocery store. I had just put a few cans of evaporated milk in my basket when I heard someone call my name. Looking up, I saw a man with a facemask and a pricing gun walking down the aisle towards me.
Continue Reading "The right ingredients (and the right charts)…"
One of the great things about my job is that I get to help people and businesses. When I get to help a friend and his business, that’s even better.
Last month I got a call from Jamie, who I had known for many years. He’d asked me to meet him at his shop and talk about some Quality Improvement projects they needed help with. When the time arrived, I found myself at Progtastics Screen Printing, being given a tour by Jamie.
“As you can see, we do screen printing. Mostly T-shirts, but we do quite a lot of other items as well.
Continue Reading "Prints? Charming."
Sometimes, I get to meet clients in cushy offices while sitting in comfortable chairs. More often than not, I meet clients on their shop floor where all the action happens. However, last Wednesday I had the unique opportunity to meet a client in his own garage while he worked on repairing a car.
I’d known Geoff ever since he came over from England a few years back, but just a few weeks ago he called and set an appointment for some one-on-one training. When I arrived at his office they told me that he’d gone home early to take care of something, but had left word to ask if I wouldn’t mind meeting at his house.
Continue Reading "Are you teaching people to drive a stick shift?"
I got an email from the hospital where my friend Annie worked saying that they wanted to arrange a video call. It seemed unusual only because Annie and I have known each other for a long time, and if she needed anything she’d usually just call, send a text or corner me in a coffee shop. I haven’t been in a coffee shop very often lately, and I hadn’t heard from Annie, so I assumed things were going okay.
I connected to the video call and was greeted with not one attendee, but two. Annie was clearly joining from home, and an older woman with grey hair joined the call from the an office at the hospital.
Continue Reading "I ♥ u charts…"