Free Mini-Workshop: Running of the Red Beads in Austin – September 5 – Please Join Me

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This year, I have the opportunity to run the W. Edwards Deming “Red Bead Experiment” at Lean Startup Week in San Francisco, with the main days being held on November 2 and 3.

Come help me do a “dry run” of that lunch-and-learn session in Austin, the evening of September 5 (yes, it's a happy-hour-and-learn, not a lunch):

I need a group of at least 10 participants to help dry run this AND give feedback from the perspective of people from startups or software companies. It's free… but please only register if you can definitely make it. No shows will throw a wrench in the dry-running works.

At Lean Startup Week, I will also be giving a short talk on the main stage about lessons from the Red Bead Experiment that apply to startups and their performance measures.

I've facilitated the Red Bead experiment many times, but typically for a healthcare audience. I'm excited to have the opportunity to do this for a “Lean Startup” crowd, which will probably include more people from larger companies, given the spread of these methods into larger companies, as detailed in Eric Ries's upcoming book The Startup WayIt's an excellent book, based on the preview copy I received.

The Startup Way: How Modern Companies Use Entrepreneurial Management to Transform Culture and Drive Long-Term Growth

In my experience with KaiNexus, the team there has been just as susceptible to the problem of overreacting to noise in performance data. Every system has noise… we have to cut through that noise to see the “signal” in the data, as I wrote about here:

I also, of course, recommend the book Understanding Variation by Don Wheeler.

If we overreact to every up and down in a data set (such as the number of “marketing qualified leads” we have each week), we end up wasting time looking for causes and explanations that aren't really there.

The normal variation in a performance measure is due to “common causes” in the system. Instead of asking, “what went wrong last week?”, we need to ask, “how can we improve the system?”

The Red Bead Experiment is a great way of learning these principles. Come join me if you're in Austin or nearby.

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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent book is the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus. His latest book has been released as an "in-progress" book, titled Measures of Success.

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