Delta Rocket

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Statistical Thinking

Just read a great blog post on statistical thinking by Stacey Barr.  She made a great point,

“The implication for us, and for performance measurement, is that we CANNOT find knowledge in individual points of data…Knowledge can come only from patterns in data.”

Taking this further, she emphasized three points to become better at statistical thinking:

  1. Recognize that all things vary.
  2. Because things vary there is uncertainty.
  3. The key to knowing something is to find measures of uncertainty, to make signals stand out.

To do this in a better graphical way, she promotes the use of XmR or Smart charts.  I’m definitely going to take the time to learn more about this approach!

In sharing the quote above with a co-worker, he provided this one in response, “Data leads to information, which leads to knowledge, which leads to wisdom.”  I liked this one too.

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Government Analytics for Dummies

Someone recently shared a Dummies book on government analytics:  http://media.wiley.com/assets/7061/60/9781118469903_fed_custom.pdf

I haven’t finished reading it yet, but am glad to have it available.  A step-by-step approach is followed that aligns well with other processes I’ve come across, so good to remember —

  1. Focus on the biggest and highest value opportunites
  2. Start with questions, not with data
  3. Imbed insights to drive actions and deliver value.
  4. Keep existing capabilities while adding new ones.
  5. Develop a long-term analytics plan.

Similar models and steps are out there, but this is a nice, simple, straight-forward list.

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Creativity

Just signed up for Tina Seelig’s online free course on creativity.  She introduces the topic through a great TED video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gyM6rx69iqg

She also provides an interesting model of the elements that make up creativity (see picture above), making the point that all items are so integrated that you can’t look at one without affecting the other.

Some of the ideas offered include using jokes for inspiraction every single day…the switch between what you expect and what occurs is the point of being creative.  She also put people into two categories…puzzle builders and quilt makers.  Puzzle builders are those that put the pieces together to match an existing image.  If a piece is missing, they can’t complete their mission.  Quilt makers on the otherhand leverage what’s available and create amazing, beautiful, pieces of functional art.  They are putting pieces together, but in a way that can only happen in you’re open to what can be instead of what fits in a predetermined manner.

I’m looking forward to the next lecture material as this was exciting to watch!

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Leading Indicators

I’ve been stewing over how to use this blog well and have been getting hung up on how to make sure the content is valuable to someone…forgetting that what I really want most is for it to be valuable to me. So rather than fretting about the time it will take to research and write great swaths of information, I’m just going to start capturing clips and quips I don’t want to forget.

In a recent webinar, the speaker was explaining lagging and leading indicators. This isn’t a hard concept, but it is difficult to develop leading indicators….measuring what’s already happened is pretty simple. The tip that he shared was that to change any lagging indicator into a leading indicator was to look at the % of change over time…this can be used for predictive analytical and forecasting what will happen in the future.

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Leading from the inside out

Upon completing LDR736, I decided to go back and really read Cashman’s book on leading from the inside out. The first quote that jumped out at me was, “Managers improve what is; managers enhance what is; managers move forward what is; leaders go beyond what is.”

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Full Study Interview 38 – November 2, 2011

This interview was not one from my original list of people, but came about after learning about the person’s career and exposure to the agency’s strategic plan and executive decisions.  The opportunity to learn how performance management was viewed and processed at the highest levels was one I couldn’t pass up.  I really appreciated the candidness and perspective provided and felt that the insight was very valuable.  It was interesting to hear that the same issues being worked and complained about at lower levels are similar to the those at the highest levels, except the politicking gets worse.  One area that I’d like to research a bit more is with regard to changes in Administrative philosophies.  After Obama took office, GPRA has been reissued and additional performance expectations have been put in place, but this interviewer suggested that it has become more subjective and less measurement.  This seems counterintuitive from the actions taken, so it would be good to look at other articles coming out and see if they’re seeing this in other organizations as well.

What I learned: 

  • There’s a capacity office.  This may be a good place to learn more about how to look at managing workload capacity and incoming projects.
  • Mitre may have good studies published that can shed light on benchmarking in the industry.
  • The idea of removing the pieces of the data for the aspects of a measurement that you don’t influence or control.  This is relevant to some of the concerns brought up by others who stated they don’t control other offices or industry so can’t be held responsible for that portion of a metric.
  • Engineers, even though they have an analytical background, usually focus on fixing a problem not looking at forecasting or trending.  They don’t have the right skill set to be an analyst.

What was reinforced? 

  • Objective measures are more meaningful than subjective, but people are more comfortable with subjective measures because they can influence the message or outcomes.  This can be especially misguided when paychecks and personal relationships are directly affected by the results.
  • Using SMART to develop performance metrics is taught to executives and helpful to keep things properly focused.
  • The right people need to be hired to accomplish the business analytics necessary to understand what the data is saying.  Knowledge is as important, or more so, than having the tools in place.
  • Tools are still needed to manage the extreme amounts of data available to an organization.  Without the proper tools, the task of analyzing the data can become too overwhelming.
  • Communication was stressed…from the top to the bottom and to assure the right line of sight. 

Changes to make in study:

  • None, I’m done!
  • Review the software tool Performance Soft Views.
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