November - December, 2012

Volume 2, Number 6

In This Issue

·    How Has Your Year Been?

·    2012 Baldrige Award Winners Announced

·    Are You a Victim of Change Blindness?

·    Thinking “Outside the Box”

·    Link of the Month

·    Miscellany

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How Has Your Year Been?

Happy Holidays!  All in all, 2012 has been an interesting year.  Commerce-wise it’s been a mixed bag of the good and bad.  Some firms have bounced back from the Great Recession and experienced explosive growth.  Others are about to run off the fiscal cliff (goodbye Twinkies, you were a childhood favorite…)   This is all assuming the Mayan calendar doesn’t end our reality in a couple weeks…

It’s a good time of year to look back on our journeys.  Memory is interesting.  Unless you are one of the few to possess an eidetic memory, you tend to only store and recall moments.   What have your favorite moments been for the year?

Each day we have a choice – live our lives such that the entire day is shuffled into the background noise of our long term memory, or do something special you’ll remember while in the old folks home!  If you did something special just once a week, you’d store over fifty great moments a year.   Quite the mental “best of” playlist.

Please enjoy the holidays and I wish you a wonderful start to 2013.

Have an excellent month!


Jeff Cole


JCG Management Consulting

2012 Baldrige Award Winners Announced

The Baldrige Performance Excellence Program has undergone several administrative changes over the past year, but its mission remains the same:  improve the competitiveness of U.S. organizations.   Legislation passed into law in August, 1987 created the program which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

Four recipients were announced in November:


  • Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control (Mfg Category)
  • MESA Products, Inc. (Small Business Category)
  • North Mississippi Health Services (Healthcare Category)
  • City of Irving, Texas (Nonprofit Category)


Congratulations to all the recipients and a special shout-out to our friends at the City of Irving.  City Manager Tommy Gonzalez, Chief Performance Officer Lynda Johnson and all their colleagues were the topic of a profile in our January issue, when they won the Texas Award for Performance Excellence. 


To learn more about these benchmark organizations, click here.

Are You a Victim of Change Blindness?

A seemingly outrageous experiment was once conducted at Harvard.  Subjects would begin a discussion with someone at a counter who bent down to pick up a form, and a different person (hiding below the counter) stood up and continued the dialogue.  

Surprisingly, 75% of participants did not notice the rather large change!    The condition is known as “Change Blindness”.  By our very nature we are creatures of deletion.  We are met with so much information overload every waking minute that the only way to stay sane and focused is by consciously or unconsciously deleting things from our environment.  Our brain fills in the blank spots with what it expects to “see”.   It’s why you may pass by the same billboard on your way to work every day for a year and not be able to remember what it says. 

We’re all subject to change blindness, but can condition ourselves to turn it on and off.  Also, being aware of the condition can impact how we communicate our operational excellence efforts.  To read a short article about this phenomenon, experience change blindness for yourself, and see several short video clips re-enacting the Harvard experiment, click here.

Thinking “Outside the Box”

We’ve all heard the old cliché that we should “Think Outside the Box”.  Sound advice, but at the same time, a phrase that is a bit shopworn.  Much to my surprise I’ve come to find that a number of people, especially younger workers, have a misunderstanding of its origin or meaning.  Some seem to think the aforementioned “box” is a modern-day office cubicle and that we should think about impacts beyond our own job or current task.  (which, although incorrect, is a nice intent)

In reality, the “box” references a puzzle that presents nine dots and challenges the user to connect all the dots with four or fewer straight lines while never lifting the pen from the paper.  (click here to see an example of the puzzle and solution).   The only way to do this is to extend one’s lines beyond the box (thus, literally “thinking outside the box”).

The puzzle itself is often attributed to British mathematician Henry Dudeny and has references in print as far back as 1914.  Organizations such as The Walt Disney Company utilized it as part of their management training.  The puzzle gained popularity in the 1970’s among management consultants who popularized the slogan “thinking outside the box” to symbolize the need for lateral or creative thinking.

Link of the Month

Has any of your vital company information been leaked?  How about your personal information?  Is your credit card number, SSN, or other private information sitting unprotected somewhere out in cyberspace?

Usually, such a breach is only noticed by the victim once the thief has made it known.   A new tool exists making it easy for anyone to proactively determine if their personal or organizational information exists on a 3rd-party site.  Called NotInMyBackYardDiggity, this free tool leverages Google and Bing with pre-built queries allowing you to quickly scan sites for key information.   For a short overview and instructions on loading and using the tool, click here.


We end this year with several miscellaneous notes:

·         In Passing:  Letitia Baldrige passed away in October at age 86.  In addition to being the sister of Malcolm Baldrige, she was Jacqueline Kennedy’s Chief of Staff and Social Secretary.  A prolific writer, she published multiple books on the topic of business etiquette.

·         The creators of Six Sigma have once again opened their doors to the public.  Motorola, which invented the methodology in 1986, is offering multiple public sessions in 2013 of its Lean Six Sigma Green Belt and Black Belt training through Motorola Solutions Learning.  To learn more, click here.

·         Mark your calendars – the American Society for Quality is holding its next World Conference on Quality in Indianapolis on May 6-8, 2013.  To learn more about this event, click here.


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