Common Cause and Special Cause Variation


Though sometimes we may refuse to recognize it, the world is a full of variation, even in the things we think or believe are constant. For example, my wife has been known to say, “you always do…” or “you never do…”, to which I retort, I am human and I am not that repeatable.  I say that, but it is not just humans that are not so repeatable.  Everything has variation, and understanding this variation, is important for product development, project management, manufacturing, product testing and so much more.  To master this work, we need to understand this variation as completely as possible.

Common and Special Cause Variation

Shewart is credited for developing the concepts of special and common cause [1].  Special cause variation, are variations that are outside of the expected (intermittent) range of possibilities. Common cause variation, are the variation expected, we know about these, these are predictable, provided we have put some effort into learning about … Continue reading

Project Control

“The Monitoring and Controlling Process Group consists of those processes required to track, review, and orchestrate the progress and performance of a project; identify any areas in which changes to the plan are required; and initiate the corresponding changes.” Continue reading

Top 27 Company Culture Ideas from the Pros

Fit Small Business posting on Top 27 Company Culture Ideas from the Pros.  Check out our contribution.

The manager must demonstrate what is the epitome of the expected culture. It helps to be egalitarian regarding power in the organization. Your job title should not dampen the discussion or the ideas from the team. I have had employees talk back to me, never name calling, but assertive and you have to be able to listen to those moments. It is not productive to have your employees suppress their emotional reaction to a crappy situation. Better still, go to that emotional spot with them, give them the space to quickly call the situation for what it is, and then quickly bring the discussion back to solving the problem.


Read the key points here:”

The Sandbox

The Sandbox

There are times, when every conversation you have with one of your colleagues or family member just brings up a myriad of potential posts for a blog. The latest discussion was around clean your own sandbox. We have written about this in the past, but from a prioritization perspective, that is, why solve a problem within your sandbox that is costing the company tens of thousands, when you have problems across the variety of sandboxes that cost the company millions of dollars. We coupled this with a Pareto discussion as the means to determine which of our sandbox problems is causing the costliest problem.

Interconnected Sandboxes

In my experience, sandboxes are associated with functional organizations.  Each subset of the organization develops a specific focus area and skills allowing for specialization.  However, there is more to this than fix your sandbox. For example, it would be a truly unusual company in which each sandbox is totally independent of another. In … Continue reading

Communication and Motivation

By Shawn P. Quigley and Jon M. Quigley

Communication and Motivation

We have discussed some of the different theories of motivation and the role that the organization plays in motivation.  Now we will discuss how the employee is responsible to the organization in the realm of motivation.  At first glance one would say that it is the organization’s responsibility to ensure its employees are motivated, but how are they to achieve this goal without the individual communicating their physiological needs, social needs, and individual development and growth needs that comprise their motivational factors?

Communication, Motivation and the Individual

Communication: as we have previously discussed, is a two way street. It is not uncommon for direction to be confused with communication.  Direction is one way – I direct you to do a task and little or no discussion is held.  One cannot be directed to be motivated, as in the manager does not go to the employee and … Continue reading

Lessons Learned, the Lifeblood of a Learning Organization

Why Lessons Learned are vital to the long-term vitality of organizations

To best discuss any topic, we must first establish a common foundation from which to build. Let’s start by defining some key terms:

1. Lesson: an activity that is done in order to learn something; also: something is taught, a single class or part of a course of instruction, something learned through experience. (Merriam-Webster (Lesson))

2. Learn: to gain knowledge or understanding of or skill in by study, instruction, or experience, to come to be able, to come to realize. (Merriam-Webster (Learn))

Learning and Testing

Learning within organizations involves the continuous testing of experiences, and the transformation of that experience into knowledge – accessible to the whole organization, and relevant to its core purpose. (Senge, Kleiner, Roberts, Ross, & Smith, 1994)(pg. 49)

The purpose of something as trivial as the defining of the words lesson and learn allows gaining the insight that every activity undertaken within a project is … Continue reading

Secure the Team Talent Your Project Requires

Project Manager and Talent

A project’s success ultimately is with the talent of the team and the project manager.  There are more team members, only one project manager, and the team carries the bulk of the work even if the project manager is responsible.  The composition of the team is the very important.  Talent constraints are very real; many companies have gone through “right-sizing” many times and are operating with lean resources.  Successfully fighting for the appropriate talent on behalf of the project is fundamental to project success.  We are not only talking about the appropriate skill set but also in the correct proportion or amount.  That does not mean large amount of multitasking on key personnel and that does not mean booking that key talent greater than 80% capacity without considering the consequences.

Talent Availability does Not Always Mean Available

Chances for success are not improved just because you are informed the talent is available to you.  In fact, … Continue reading

Hope is not a project management method

We all need a little hope now and then. However, does it seem like hoping is becoming more of an “influence” on project than the planning, controlling and adapting? Continue reading

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