Saturday, June 27, 2009

Jim Owens, Rest In Peace

Jim Owens, former coach of the University of Washington Huskies has passed away. He is a Hall of Fame coach and deservedly. I met him when I was a child. I remember how in awe of him I was. He was on the practice field next to Husky Stadium and my grandfather brought me to him for an introduction. I had just timed myself in the 100 on the field and I blurted out, "I can run the 100 in 18 seconds." He was kind and said, "that's great." I have a life long memory of that moment. I assume that he gave many others some life long good memories. The world has lost something very important. Someone who could brighten the life of a child.

Friday, June 26, 2009

You can go to a home again

They say you can’t go home again, but you can go back to a home. When you move around a lot, you end up having many homes.
I find it fascinating to talk to a cousin in France who is in the same house that my great-great- grandfather lived in after his birth in 1807 until his death many years later with his descendents maintaining residence in the home.
But me and others, we haven’t experienced that. Sometimes, when you go back to a former house, the owner will see you looking around and take pity on you and let you look around the house.
(I think of the movie, Crimes and Misdemeanors wherein a main character is invited into his former home and old characters have old discussions and then invite him to participate. I mention the movie since it is an amazing blend of deep philosophical contemplation juxtapositioned with wackiness.)
I looked around my ex-wife’s former home. She remembered the rooms bigger since her perspective was the memory of a 5 year old. I showed the nice fellow who let me walk around inside my grandparent’s house the cause of some dents in his wall (the results of the wooden shaft of rubber tipped arrows hitting the wall and denting the soft part of the wood). Recently, as I looked at the house that I lived in for three years (and left 25 years ago) after parking in front of it and standing there taking pictures of it, I saw the garage door open and out came the present owner. I disarmed him by introducing myself and we discussed all the owners from first construction to the present. I noted his 30 foot tree that wasn’t there when I left, the fence, the hedges and the bars on the windows and doors. (cost me $2500 he said!) We shook hands and I told him I appreciated the conversation and tried to find one of my favorite restaurants but it was gone so I tried another place. It must have been good since I ate too much!!!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Lean Six Sigma

Lean Six Sigma Training is meant to enhance efficiency. Based on my observations and discussions, we are living in a world where the profit motive is pushing for inefficiencies.

Let me discuss the business model of a certain airport shuttle.
1. The shuttle has a bunch of vans.
2. People call in and make a reservation for a shuttle van pick-up.
3. It is not profitable to just pick up one person (more later).
4. They hope that during the week that there will be at least two or three people from an area so the pick-up will be profitable.
5. They make the reservation about 3 hours early. They don't tell you why. The reason is so that they can cancel if need be. If they cancel, to assuage the customer, they will pay the differential between cab fare and the shuttle fare, let's say up to $10.
6. Here is how this business model worked for me.

1. I had a pick-up scheduled for 130 pm. That was earlier than I would have wanted because I wanted to be there at 4Pm for a 5pm flight, but I accepted it.
2. At 145, I called up and asked where the van was, they said it was on the way, expect within 30 minutes.
3. At 215 I called up and was told it was on the way and would be there in 10 minutes.
4. At 230, I was told it was around the corner.
5. At 245, I was told a mistake had been made, the van had been cancelled for the day since there were not enough people. They asked if I wanted them to call a cab. I said yes. (Driving was not a good option since this was to be a two week trip (9 times 15 = $135 vs $35 for cab fare). The smartest thing I did on this whole thing was make my own reservation.
6. At 400pm, the cab that I made a reservation for came (the other cab never came, I checked!) It was exciting now since if there was a rush hour traffic snarl, no way would I make it. It worked out that traffic was perfect. I was let out at the airport curb, checked my bags there at the corner and fought my way through security to get on the flight with 7 minutes to spare.

Summary- Their business model makes money, but where the rubber meets the road, it really causes problems. Someone asks, "well, why don't you just get a cab? I did reserve a cab for 4am so I could get to the airport at 5am. At 415am the cab company called and said it was cancelled. Ever try to get a cab within 30 minutes at 415 am. Luckily, I got a ride. My business model should have been t0 reserve 2 or 3 cabs and apologize to the ones that show up after I leave!!!