Sophisticated Graphics In The New York Times

“Even after decades of affirmative action, black and Hispanic students are more underrepresented at the nation’s top colleges and universities than they were 35 years ago, according to a New York Times analysis. The share of black freshmen at elite schools is virtually unchanged since 1980. Black students are just 6 percent of freshmen but 15 percent of college-age Americans, as the chart below shows.”

Sourced through the New York Times

Michel Baudin‘s comments: This morning’s New York Times contains an article with data visualizations at varying levels of detail that are far more sophisticated than the usual pie charts and stacked bar charts commonly found in the American press as well as in business presentations and shop floor performance dashboards.

The exact meaning of the above chart between the title and the lead of the article is not immediately obvious. After looking at it for a minute or two, you realize that it has a high data-to-ink ratio: it makes a non-trivial point in a flourish-free format that I think Edward Tufte would approve.

The article is about the relative representation of different groups in the student population of 101 institutions,  including the Ivy League, University of California campuses, “top liberal arts colleges,” “other top universities,” and “public flagship universities.” The study compares the proportion of freshmen enrolled from each group to their proportion in the college-age population as a whole.

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The Only Capability That Matters: The Willingness And Ability To Learn | Becky Morgan | Industry Week

“Research shows that over a million manufacturing jobs sit unfilled right now. That number is expected to increase to over 3 million by the end of this decade. A skills shortage is to blame, say most. ‘We need CNC operators, robot operators, and mechatronics skills’ say all too many manufacturing companies. […] How does a manufacturing company leader solve that problem? By emphasizing the only capability that truly matters: The willingness and ability to learn.”

Sourced through Industry Week

Michel Baudin‘s comments: As usual, I tend to agree with Becky Morgan. In the article’s featured image, I also noticed the learner’s gray hair and his obvious willingness to take instruction from a younger man. It reinforces Becky’s points. When you desperately need a CNC programmer, you are tempted to seek someone with just this skill to fill just this pigeonhole. What Becky says is that, not only are you unlikely to find this rare pearl but, even if you did, it wouldn’t serve you well because the skill in question would be obsolete in 5 years. Instead, she argues, you should recruit team members to learn and grow with the company.

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Not statistically significant does NOT mean insignificant | Rebecca A. Morgan | AME Target

“My fully-loaded 2012 Audi A6 had an intermittent frustrating problem since the day I bought it. No diagnostic codes indicated a problem. Escalation to German engineering had me ready to move back to Lexus. Their response was ‘it must not really be happening. Our codes would indicate if it were.’ That obnoxious response was based on the assumption they had thought of every cause of failure in developing the diagnostic codes. FMEA is not 100% and never will be. Do you have customer data that you’re not actively using to improve your product Four years after I first reported the issue, Audi issued an urgent safety recall for the problem that I had been experiencing. Why the delay?”

Sourced through AME Target

Michel Baudin‘s comments: I am sure many have had similar experiences to Becky’s with customer service in many companies. They tell you their product is used by millions and it’s the first time anyone reports this problem. You are probably using it wrong, or misreading its output,… This being said, it’s not really related to the concept of statistical significance.

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New Chart Junk: Squaring The Pie

The purpose of graphics for data visualization is communication, not decoration, which is often forgotten in publications as well as on company performance dashboards. A case in point is the chart on yesterday’s cover of the New York Times. It shows that solar energy currently accounts for more than twice as many jobs as coal. It also shows the numbers of jobs in different sectors and uses a color code to mark some as based on fossil fuels versus renewable and low-emission technologies. 

Until recently, most publications would have used a pie chart. Now, graphic artists have found a way to square the pie chart into yet another style that will most likely trickle down to slideware and office walls, in spite of a low data-to-ink ratio and the use of two-dimensional shapes to display one-dimensional data.

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An American Student In An iPhone Factory | Business Insider | Kif Leswing

 

“Imagine going to work at 7:30 every night and spending the next 12 hours, including meals and breaks, inside a factory where your only job is to insert a single screw into the back of a smartphone, repeating the task over and over and over again. During the day, you sleep in a shared dorm room, and in the evening, you wake up and start all over again.That’s the routine that Dejian Zeng experienced when he spent six weeks working at an iPhone factory near Shanghai, China, last summer. […]. Unlike many of those workers, Zeng did not need to do the job to earn a living. He’s a grad student at New York University, and he worked at the factory for his summer project.”

Sourced through Business Insider

Michel Baudin‘s comments: Thanks to my colleague Kevin Hop for sending me this rare peek into the life of the people who assemble iPhones by hand in Chinese factories each employing tens of thousands of workers. We need to keep in mind that this is the perspective of Dejian Zeng, an American student who was there for 6 weeks, not someone who works there for a living, but it is still informative.

While his account wouldn’t make anyone want to embrace iPhone assembly as a career choice, it’s not a horror story. The work is dull and repetitive, and there is too much of it, but it’s not described as dirty or dangerous. I have seen worse in poorly ventilated paint shops and machine shops with slippery floors, and not only in China.

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The role of your IT manager in your ERP replacement project | Tom Miller | ERP Focus

“Any ERP replacement project will need to have a team involved in selection and implementation of the ERP.  That team will have a project manager, an executive sponsor, several subject manager experts, one or more representatives from the ERP vendor, and, your IT manager.” (italics added)

Sourced through ERP Focus

Michel Baudin‘s comments: The notion of including a vendor rep in a team tasked with selecting an ERP product is interesting. To be fair, the article is about implementation — where it makes sense to involve the vendor — and the inclusion of selection in the opening sentence is most likely just sloppy editing. I hope no reader finds anything like it in my own writings.

#ERP

Japanese Rest Stops Won’t Keep You Waiting | Motoko Rich | New York Times [Clipping]

japan-bathrooms1-master768

“The kids are hungry, the driver has a headache and everyone has to go to the bathroom. If you’re traveling by car on a holiday weekend, the last thing you want to find at a roadside rest stop is a long line for a toilet. Companies that run major highway service plazas in Japan go to considerable lengths to ensure you never will, as they compete for the coveted Japan Toilet Award from the transportation ministry…”

Sourced through the New York Times

Michel Baudin‘s comments: When at airports or museums, you find the Men’s room readily accessible while there is a long line of women waiting on the other side, you cannot help but blame the architects for lack of respect for humanity. The buildings may look great, and may even excel at their primary function — getting passengers on and off airplanes, or giving access to cultural treasures — but they suck at details that are vital to the basic, physical comfort of their users.

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What a Plant Manager and Town Mayor Have In Common | Darrell Edwards | Industry Week

leadership-dictionary-page“If there is ever a time to discuss the similarities between plant leadership and politics, perhaps during an election year is as fitting a time as any.  Some time ago I was attending a class at Columbia University, and over a conversation at lunch with a professor, we discussed what a day in the life of a plant manager was like (I was a plant manager at the time).  After a bit of conversation about my typical day, the professor said, ‘It’s like you really are running for election as town mayor, aren’t you?'”

Sourced through from: Plant Manager/Town Mayor

Michel Baudin‘s comments:

In my presentation on the Lean Leadership Role of the Plant Manager at the Lean Leadership Summit last month, I used the ship captain as a metaphor, but the plant manager as town mayor is enlightening as well. The abstract of my talk was as follows:

The plant manager is like a ship captain, in daily contact with a team that may range from a handful to thousands of people, and accountable to an organization that is remote and has entrusted him or her with a valuable asset. The plant manager is the voice of top management to the plant and of the plant to top management, and represents the company to the local community. Of course, the plant manager must know how to pay bills on time and let maintenance use qualified technicians to fix forklifts, but there is more to the job, particularly about Lean leadership. The plant manager implements corporate policy but does not make it. If top management has adopted Lean, the plant managers can make it succeed or fail.

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Managing Complexities and Challenges of IIoT | Mary McDonald | Industry Week

Cable maze

“[…]When it comes to the manufacturing industry specifically, IoT is poised to make a tectonic shift in the industry. As manufacturing remains one of the larger economic drivers across the globe, one can anticipate that IoT is set to disrupt this important, interconnected global market.”

Sourced through Industry Week

Michel Baudin‘s comments:

In Manufacturing it is, perhaps, fitting that disruption by a largely wireless technology should be heralded with a picture of a 1990s vintage maze of cables. This article is part of an Industry Week special report about the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), with informercials from suppliers like Dell and Intel, and articles about applications in various settings, including the GE case I reviewed earlier this week. I take the authors’ word about what this technology can do. The question in my mind is what Manufacturing will do, given its past unwillingness or inability to take advantage of available technology.

#IoT, #IIoT

Manufacturing’s Digital Revolution | Travis Hessman | Industry Week

GE's Jamie Miller

GE’s Jamie Miller

“The once distant and isolated worlds of OT and IT – of physical production and the software that drives it – has been on a steady, inevitable collision course for over a decade.  Today, with the help of sensors, powerful analytics, and the Internet of Things, those two sides of the manufacturing world are finally ready to merge. The result will be nothing short of a full-scale manufacturing revolution.”

 

Sourced through Industry Week

Michel Baudin‘s comments:

“OT,” as an acronym, is new to me. In this context, it stands for Operational Technology, and it differs from IT in that, instead of putting out words and pictures on screens for humans to read, it issues instructions to physical devices, like automatic machines, robots, or Automatic Guided Vehicles (AGVs). “OT” in this sense is so recent that,  google doesn’t know it, and spells it out as Occupational Therapy.

In her keynote presentation at the IndustryWeek Manufacturing & Technology Conference and Expo in Rosemont, IL, on May 4, GE’s Jamie Miller asserted that the OT/IT merger and the data-rich world of the Industrial Internet were the key drivers of changes in manufacturing for the next few years. But the obstacles to this merger, or even convergence, have been non-technical for decades. While the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) may be a real breakthrough, its absence was not the reason OT and IT have remained apart.

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