I, Pencil, How Smart are We really?

 “I, Pencil: My Family Tree as Told to Leonard E. Read” originated as an essay by Leonard Read. First published in the December 1958 issue of The Freeman, it was reprinted in May 1996 and as a pamphlet entitled “I… Pencil” in May 1998. It can help us understand that we may not know as much as we think we know about anything, even the lowly pencil.

bh 2018-02-28



If Russ Ackoff had given a TED Talk

Understanding Dr. Ackoff’s 1994 thoughts on systems thinking are essential in 2017 and beyond

It seems we haven’t learned much from intellectual giants like Russ Ackoff and W. Edwards Deming. In this short video, Dr. Ackoff destroys our current understanding of how we manage companies and how we proport to educate students. His comments are pointed and topical even more than 20 years after they were made.

bh 11/30/2017

Thanks to Statcast, baseball will never be the same

Statistics are everywhere, but nowhere are they more on public display than in Major League Baseball.

In case you missed it, Paul Casella’s 2015 article provides great insight into this wonderful new way to gather performance data.
bh 10/11/2017


By Paul Casella / MLB.com
April 24th, 2015

Have you wondered how fast the ball comes off of Giancarlo Stanton‘s bat? How much ground Andrew McCutchen actually covers in center field? Or just how fast Billy Hamilton really is? Thanks to Statcast, a revolutionary tracking technology, we can finally get definitive answers.

Statcast is already being utilized by Major League front offices, while fans have had the chance to see its groundbreaking abilities in breakdowns of last year’s All-Star Game and postseason, as well as on a few highlight clips this season. The technology will continue to be incorporated into every MLB Network Showcase game, and used to analyze player performance both on the Network and MLB.com.

Here’s a quick primer on what exactly Statcast can do and what it will mean for Major League Baseball:

MLB Tonight: Statcast demo

MLB Tonight: Statcast demo

Harold Reynolds and the MLB Tonight panel discuss how Statcast works to provide in-depth analysis for the future of baseball

What is Statcast?

Statcast, a state-of-the-art tracking technology, is capable of gathering and displaying previously immeasurable aspects of the game.

Click to read the entire article on MLB.com: Statcast primer: Baseball will never be the same | MLB.com

Price gouging, hoarding, and the economics of disaster.

My opinions have changed greatly on the topic of “price gouging.” Like most people, my first emotional response is to recoil at the idea of charging $3,000 today, for an portable electric generator that sold for $999 a few weeks ago.

The more I learn about these situations, the more I’m convinced that my original thinking is what Dr. Thomas Sowell calls, “Stage One Thinking.” Dr. Sowell is famous for asking the question, “and then what happens?” In the case of the generators, the current situation practically guarantees shortages of fuel, generators, water, bread, etc. Here’s how.

As soon as a storm approaches, people with sufficient money, rush out to fill their tanks with fuel, and their homes with bread and milk. They buy generators, chain saws, and bottled water. With the anti-price gouging laws in place, there is no disincentive for people to buy more than they would normally use. This quickly results in shortages.

Think about this example.

Let’s say I have a warehouse full of generators in Oklahoma City, about 450 miles away from the Houston. I really want to help. I’d like to take five tractor trailers filled with generators to Houston to sell. I don’t normally sell generators in Houston, because local sellers with lower transportation costs sell their generators for less, making this business unprofitable for me.

I figure out TODAY’S break-even price for each generator. I’m not looking to gouge anyone, but I also don’t expect my employees to work for free and I know the folks at the fuel depot expect to be paid as well.

The price I come up with is well above the price that would be considered gouging. Since I can’t afford to ruin my business to help the folks in Houston, I stay home. I am sad for the folks inside the tragedy for two reasons. I know I have a warehouse filled with generators that people need, and I know that, as a result of well meaning price-gouging laws, people will be worse off because I can’t sell my generators to them.

I’ll ask this question again. How should our society allocate scarce resources that have alternative uses?

I’ve tacked a couple of links below to get the deep thinking started.

bh 2017-09-07

Economists don’t think price gouging is a problem. But what about our social values? (from Marketplace.org)

Charging flood victims $30 for a case of water or $10 for a gallon of gas doesn’t sit right.
And a majority of states, including Texas, have laws against price gouging. The state attorney general has threatened to prosecute people who jack up their prices in the wake of the flooding caused by Harvey. He said his office has received hundreds of reports of profiteering.

But most economists think those high prices can actually benefit communities during a crisis. Sky-high prices are the market at work, the basic laws of supply and demand in action.

“Price gouging laws stand in the way of the normal workings of competitive markets,” explained Michael Salinger, an economics professor at Boston University and former director of the Bureau of Economics at the Federal Trade Commission.
(read the full article)

Image of people lined up to buy storm supplies.
Thoughts on how to allocate scarce resources.

Source: Economists don’t think price gouging is a problem. But what about our social values?
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The Founder and Experimentation — Jamie Flinchbaugh

For years I’ve heard people complain that process improvement is pie in the sky concepts that don’t work in the real world. First of all, that’s crap. Second of all, process improvement doesn’t work, until it does, and everybody’s looking to do the new-new thing.
Jamie Flinchbaugh’s blog post on “The Founder” is a great take and means that I’ll be watching this movie soon!

bh 2017-06-27

Experimentation Works!

Source: The Founder and Experimentation — Jamie Flinchbaugh

Learning what works and what doesn’t work is driven by experimentation, real-world trials that inform us about cause and effect. How do we improve the ability to experiment? By reducing the cost, the effort, the friction required to test what

Click here for the complete article.

Moving Agile Forward

Rethinking What’s Next in Software Development

Al Shalloway is an acknowledged thought leader in how we design and develop software. In this post, he begins the conversation about where we are headed next. It seems that everyone is in software development these days and most agree that we need to improve. Al notes that the original manifesto mentions the Agile Manifesto mentions “the team 17 times, the customer 3 times, business twice and management not at all.” But rather than impaling the sacred Agile Manifesto cow, he offers us a place to start the conversation with his personal manifesto.

I think this is a wonderful place to start a conversation about where we go from here. If you have an opinion about how the software business needs to change, I encourage you to read this post.

bh 5/30/2017

A Personal Manifesto | Net Objectives

May 28, 2017 — Posted by Al Shalloway

Background and the Agile Manifesto.I have been asked several times to help in the rewrite of an Agile Manifesto.  After having been involved in Snowbird 10 (the reunion of some of the original Agile Manifesto authors along with some others from the Lean/Kanban community) I realized there is no “Agile” community. Rather we have many sub-communities that are so diverse it is hard to think of them as being under one umbrella.
click here for more…


Source: A Personal Manifesto | Net Objectives blog