Showing posts with label Dashboard. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dashboard. Show all posts

September 7, 2013

Rethinking How Blood Work Is Done

The Wall Street Journal has a fascinating interview today with Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of a new company that has rethought how we do blood work for medical diagnosis.

Her company, Theranos, has certified phlebotomists for taking patient's blood, but instead of taking vials and vials of blood, they just take a pinprick worth--1/1,000 of a typical draw--from the tip of your finger.

Moreover, unlike with conventional blood work testing, "only about 62% of tests that doctors order are ultimately carried out,"partially because there is still not enough blood drawn, but with Theranos the tests are able to be done with only small drop sample sizes. 

With advanced, patented technology, Theranos does the tests (blood, urine, other) faster--in 4 hours or less, rather than in days, so you, the patient, can get the results quicker, and treatment for your condition sooner.

Moreover the results are said to be more precise to within a 10% variation--in contrast to typical labs tests that are within plus-or-minus 30% allowable error--a 60% error range!

With faster and better technology, Theranos helps your doctor to make a more accurate diagnosis and provide targeted treatment. 

The testing results are provided securely and electronically to the doctors in this very cool dashboard (pictured above) in which blood measurements can be quickly and easily seen on a scale of low-to-high, as well as whether something is deficient, insufficient, or at toxic levels. 

Also, Theranos provides trending of results over time, so the physician can quickly see whether the patient's condition is worsening or improving, and can make treatment decisions accordingly. 

And when the doctor releases the results, you'll be able to logon and see them for yourself as well. 

Further, Theranos is committing to conduct the blood work at a 50%-off discount on Medicare fees--they are saying, "we want to bill you at less than you're willing to reimburse."

I really like when someone bold and bright like Elizabeth Holmes comes along and breaks the old broken paradigms--really rethinking how something could/should be done better. 

In general, it often seems that the medical field is change/risk adverse (like with adoption of electronic health records), but Ms. Holmes has brought a better, faster, and cheaper testing and diagnostic process to all of us.  

I noticed that Theranos has a very impressive roster on it's board, including former Secretary of States Henry Kissinger and George Schultz and former Secretary of Defense, William J. Perry to name just a few. 

Theranos seems to be the company to watch in this medical diagnostic laboratory field. 

No more scary big needles--just a pin-prick and a few drops of blood...that's blood worth taking and testing. ;-) 

(Source Photo: Theranos Website)
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May 17, 2013

Giving Voice to The Workers

In light of the recent factory collapse in Bangladesh and another in Cambodia this week, there is an promising crowdsourcing service called LaborVoices for factory workers and other industries. 

A former Department of State employee, Kohl Gill, who I do not know, started the service.

LaborVoices collects information from workers by phone polling in the workers native languages.

The service anonymously records information about hazardous working conditions, product quality, and maintenance of equipment. 

According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek (13 May 2013), LaborVoices aggregates worker responses and provides the results on a subscription basis through an online dashboard. 

Unlike with onsite inspections, where workers can be easily coaxed, cajoled, or threatened to provide positive workplace feedback, the private polling by mobile phones provides for more accurate and timely reporting of workplace issues. 

Problems that can be identified early can be remediated sooner and hopefully avoid defects, injuries, and illnesses from poor products and working conditions. 

Giving voice to the workforce--anonymously, safely, and in aggregate can provide important information to companies, labor unions, government regulators, and law enforcement to be able to take action to protect people inside the workplace and to users outside. 

Like an ever-present inspector general, internal auditor, or tip hotline, LaborVoices can help self-regulate industry, produce safer products, and protect the workers who make it all happen. 

(Source Photo: here with attribution to UN Women Asia and The Pacific)
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November 18, 2012

When All Is Not Green




Are their programs successful or not, is everything okay on their staff, will they--without fudging the numbers--meet their performance goals and targets (if they have any), and so on. 

People are afraid if they made a mistake or something isn't working as intended that they will be in trouble.  

Maybe they will be yelled at, lose authority and power, be sidelined, demoted, or even fired; and their organizations may be downsized, outsourced, consolidated with another, or outright eliminated. 

So people hide the facts and the truth--as if, what they don't know, can't harm me.

So everything appears copasetic in organization-land!

But the truth is we need a solid guidepost to know where we are going, which paths are safe, and which are fraught with danger--and that is anchored in open and honest communication. 

There is a great story about this in Bloomberg BusinessWeek (15 November 2012) about how in 2006, when ex-Boeing executive, Alan Mulally took over as CEO of Ford--and Ford was bleeding red ink, facing their largest loss for automobiles in history of $17 billion, that at the executive Thursday morning meetings, the performance scorecard for their initiatives "was a sea of green."

Here the company is bordering on financial collapse, but the executives are reporting--all clear!

The story goes that Mark Fields, head of Ford's North American business stepped up and showed the first red revealing a problem with a problem tailgate latch on their new Edge SVU that would halt production. 

With the room filled with tension, Alan Mulally rather than get mad and castigate or punish the executive, what did he do--he clapped!

Mulally said: "Great visibility. Is there anything we can do to help you?"

And what ultimately happened to Mark Fields, the executive who told the truth about problems in his area of responsibility?  

Last month, "Ford's board elevated him to chief operating officer," which analysts read as a sign that he will be the next CEO when Mulally is supposed to retire at the end of 2014.

The bottom line is that we cannot fix problems if we can't identify them and face up to them with our people. 

While we need good data and sound analysis to identify problems in the organization, problems will remain illusive without the trust, candor, and teamwork to ultimately come to terms with them and solve them.

I love this story about Ford and think it is a model for us in leadership, communication, and performance management. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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March 1, 2012

Dashboarding The Information Waves

I had an opportunity to view a demo of a dashboarding product from Edge called AppBoard, and while this is not a vendor or product endorsement, I think it is a good example to briefly talk about these types of capabilities. 

Dashboard products enable us to pull from multiple data sources, make associations, see trends, identify exceptions, and get alerts when there are problems.

Some of the things that I look for in dashboard tools are the following:

- Ease of use of connecting to data 

- Ability to integrate multiple stovepiped databases

- A variety of graphs, charts, tables, and diagrams to visualize the information

- Use of widgets to automatically manipulate the data and create standardized displays

- Drag and drop ability to organize the dashboard in any way you like to see it

- Drill down to get more information on the fly 

While there are many tools to consider that provide dashboards, information visualization, and business intelligence, I think one of the most important aspects of these is that they be user-centric and easy to implement and customize for the organization and its mission.

When making critical decisions (especially those involving life and death) and when time is of the essence--we need tools that can be can be easily navigated and manipulated to get the right information and make a good decision, quickly. 
 
As a fan of information visualization tools, I appreciate tools like this that can help us get our arms around the "information overload" out there, and I hope you do too.

(All Opinions my own)

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May 26, 2011

Educating The World


Salman (Sal) Khan is amazing!

He quit a job as a hedge fund analyst to start a free and now highly popular educational website Khan Academy.

Khan is the founder and sole faculty of the academy, and has posted over 2,100 educational videos on topics ranging from:
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Economics
  • Finance
  • History
  • Statistics
  • And more
Khan goal is to "educate the world" providing the tools so that everyone can learn at their own pace, and where teachers are facilitators.

Khan explains the concepts of the various subjects slowly and clearly and uses an electronic blackboard to demonstrate examples and problems.

The Khan Academy also provides exercises, test prep (like for the SAT, GMAT, etc.) and a dashboard for tracking student progress.

As of today--26 May 2011--Khan has served up over 56 Million lessons!

According to BusinessWeek (May 23-29, 2011) Khan's work was recognized in 2010 by donations that included $1.5 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, $2 million from Google, as well as others.

Of course, there are other free learning sites out there, but to me Khan Academy seems unique in its breadth and depth of core academic learning--plus they are all taught by Khan!

Khan Academy is becoming the "free virtual school" for the world, and his students seem to love it.

While Khan is doing a super-human job, one suggestion that I have is to consider adding social collaboration tools (chat, blogs, groups, and so on) to the site to enable students to discuss about the material and ask questions and even post their own insights that others can benefit from.

Also, opening some element of this up to crowd-sourcing (like Wikipedia) may help this to grow even bigger and faster.

At some point, even a King Khan needs some help to educate the masses.

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February 3, 2011

Leading With Business Intelligence

Check out this great video on Mobile Business Intelligence (BI) put out by MicroStrategy (Note: this is not an endorsement of any particular vendor or product).

Watch the user fly through touchscreen tables, charts, graphs, maps, and more on an iPhone and iPad-- Can it really be this easy?

This fits in with my firm belief that we've got to use business analytics, dashboarding, and everything "information visualization" (when done in a user-centric way) to drive better decision-making.

This is also ultimately a big part of what knowledge management is all about--we turn data into actionable insight!

What is so cool about this Mobile BI is that you can now access scorecards, data mining, slicing and dicing (Online Analytical Processing--OLAP), alerting, and reporting all from a smartphone or tablet.

This integrates with Google maps, and is being used by major organizations such as U.S. Postal Service and eBay.

Running a business, I would want this type of capability...wouldn't you?

As Federal Judge John E. Jones said: "What gets measured get's done, what gets measured and fed back gets done well, and what gets rewarded, gets repeated."

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June 11, 2010

Simplifying IT Performance Measures

There is the old adage that you can only manage what you measure.

The problem is that most IT organizations either aren’t measuring much, aren’t measuring meaningful indicators, or aren’t measuring in a way that is aligned to the business.

Hence, we have organizations that can’t articulate, get their arms around, or seem to improve their IT performance—because they don’t really even know what their performance is—can anyone even spell p-e-r-f-o-r-m-a-n-c-e? While other organizations, turn out 32 page weekly performance reports in 10 point font that brings no true sense of “are we hitting or missing the mark” to anyone.

There is an interesting article in InformationWeek on a simple method for doing performance metrics for IT called “A Simple Scoring System for Complex Times.”

Obviously nothing is so simple, but the basic premise is that the IT organizations uses a scoring system of -1, 0, and +1 to capture the following:

- Screw-ups(-1)—This includes systems or network that goes down, projects that go bad, etc. While we want to minimize these, we don’t necessarily want to drive this category to nothing, since the cost for eliminating every possible error likely outweighs the benefits.

- Doing the expected(0)—This means keeping operations running or delivery projects on time and within budget. While this does not usually win the IT department lots of kudos, this category of operations is critical because it is about “keeping everything working smoothly.”

- The wins (+1)—This is where we innovate for the organization and encompasses adding new functionality and enhancements that create tangible business improvement. “+1 are what it’s all about. They’re why most of us got into this profession in the first place.” Clearly, not everything we do can be +1’s, since we have to maintain basic IT operational functions and not just add the new proverbial “cool stuff”, and also practically speaking because, the organization “can’t absorb the pace of change.”

So to some extent there is a healthy balance between making some mistakes from which we learn and grow (-1), creating an environment of operational excellence (0), and driving innovation for true business impact (+1).

In addition to measuring the indicators that IT organizations set out in their IT strategic and operational plans, this high-level scoring method could add a summary perspective for a straightforward CIO dashboard.


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December 16, 2009

Project Failure, Why People Can’t Own Up

I saw this funny/sad Dilbert cartoon on project management by Scott Adams (BTW, he’s terrific!).

It goes like this:

Office colleague (water cooler talk): How’s your project coming along?

Dilbert: It’s a steaming pile of failure. It’s like fifteen drunken monkeys with a jigsaw puzzle.

New scene….

Boss: How’s your project coming along?

Dilbert: Fine.

END

This common work scenario is sort of like a game of truth or dare: you either have to tell the project truth or take the dare and do something embarrassing like proceed with the project that isn’t on track.

Teammates, colleagues, peers often talk frankly and honestly about the problems with their projects and often the talk may become sarcastic or even somewhat cynical, because they know that they can’t tell their bosses what is REALLY going on.

What a shame in terms of lost opportunities to communicate, solve problems, and drive project success for the organization.

People are afraid to be honest, direct, tell the truth, and work together with their management on constructive solutions.

Instead, people simply say everything is fine, period.

Sort of like when your boss asks politely at work how are you doing? And rather than say, well I woke up late, missed my train, spilled coffee on my tie, and am having trouble meeting my deadlines this week, the person almost always replies, reflexively, “I’m fine” and “How are you?”

Another manifestation of the it’s fine syndrome is with executive dashboards or project scorecard reviews where virtually all the metrics show up as “green”, even when you know they are not—does yellow or red sound too scary to have to put on paper/screen and explain to the boss.

We are conditioned NOT to talk casually or to report to our superiors about issues, problems, or anything that can be perceived as negative, least they be labeled as trouble-makers or “the problem,” rather than the solution. Ultimately, employees don’t want to be blamed for the failures, so they would rather hide the truth then own up to the project issues, and work constructively with their management on solutions or course correction—before it’s too late.

Now isn’t that a novel idea? Management and staff working together, actually identifying the issues—proactively and in forthright manner—and working together to resolve them, rather than sitting across the table, sugar-coating or pointing the accusatory finger.

People have to take responsibility and own up when there is a problem and be willing to talk about them with their management, and management needs to encourage frankness, a “no surprises” culture, and a team-collaborative environment to solving problems rather than instilling fear in their employees or implicitly or explicitly communicating that they only want to hear “good news.”

Good news is not good news when it’s fabricated, a distortion, or a complete sham.

A culture of teamwork, collaboration, honesty, and integrity is the underpinning of project success. If everything in the project “is fine”, it’s probably not.


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November 14, 2009

Delivering Obsolete and Broken IT Projects, No More

NextGov reported on 9 Nov 2009, that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report that “forecasts $3 billion in cost overruns on 16 major projects.”

What’s so of baffling is that these overruns occurred despite the agency’s use of earned value management.

According to Dave Powner, director of IT management issues at GAO, “Every one of the agencies had major problems in determining earned value management…as a result the agencies were unable to accurately identify the progress contractors had made on IT projects.”

These finding are expected to drive the 2009 Information Technology Oversight and Waste Prevention Act to increase oversight of IT investments.

This bill calls for “a Web site to publish information on the status of federal IT investments, similar to the Federal IT Dashboard,” but with more accurate data and with explanations on why projects are over budget.

Certainly, the use of measurements and dashboards to display and track these are helpful in understanding how we are doing in managing our IT investments—so they are on schedule, within budget, and to customer specification.

Clearly, we can only begin to better manage that which we measure and track. Our IT investments and their execution are no longer a black box or so it’s supposed to work.

However, to make these metrics and dashboard effective to improve IT execution, there are a number of critical success factors:

  1. Transparency—This is a concept that is in common use these days, and we need to continue to put it in action. All IT investments need to be measured, not just the “major” ones, and their success and failures need to be visible. The purpose must not to scrutinize or shame project managers, but to be able to genuinely guide projects to successful conclusions. This is what the control phase of capital planning and investment control is all about. We need to course correct projects early and often, if necessary, before they are billions of dollars out of control.
  2. Honesty in Reporting—Projects need to be reported accurately—no gaming the system. If the facts are sugarcoated or whitewashed, then no dashboard in the world is going to catch the problems that are misreported to begin with. Unfortunately with project management, the elements of scope, schedule, and cost can be manipulated to make it seem as if a project is okay, when it isn’t. One example is de-scoping the project to enable a delivery on schedule and on cost, even though what’s being delivered is not what was asked for or agreed upon.
  3. Skills Enhancement—With better measurement of IT investments, we need to provide more training to our project managers. We can’t just expect perfection day 1. We need to work with people and grow them to be better project managers. We can do this with training, mentoring, coaching, and so on. Remember, it’s generally the people that make the IT project a success or failure, not the technology—so let’s invest in our people to make them better project managers.
  4. Accountability—We shouldn’t be looking to exact a pound of flesh for genuine human foibles—mistakes do happen. But at the same time, people must be held accountable for fraud, waste, and abuse. Sometimes, people get complacent and they need a reminder that there are real implications to an IT project’s success or failure—mission and people are depending on you to do your job, so you had better do it responsibly and to the best of your ability.
  5. Continuous Improvement—Ever since business school, I’ve always loved the Japanese management practice of Kaizen—continuous improvement. This concept is right on the mark with our IT investment and project execution. We are not going to magically put up a dashboard and whoola—better IT projects. It’s going to be a process, a transformation over time. We need to incrementally improve our IT project success rate through learning measurement, and best practices implementation. Of course, time is money, and we need to move quickly, but we do not want to artificially create the appearance of short-term performance improvement at the expense of genuine long-term success.

All the power to IT performance measurement and dashboarding, but with the absolute commitment to not only track and measure, but also grow and improve our customer results. It’s not a gotcha that we need, but a how can we help you succeed.


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