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on 22-Apr-10 01:46.
Quality is a popular approach to process improvement, particularly among technology driven companies such as Allied Signal, General Electric, Kodak and Texas Instruments. Its objective is to reduce output variability through process improvement, and/or to increase customer specification limits through design for producibility (DfP), so that these specification limits lie at more than "six" standard deviations, or sigma's, from the process mean (I'll explain the quotation marks later). In this way, defect levels should be below 3.4 "defects per million opportunities" for a defect, or "dpmo" for short.
Although originally introduced by Motorola in 1986 as a quality performance measurement, 6 sigma has evolved into a statistically oriented approach to process improvement. It is deployed throughout an organization using an army of champions and experts called "black belts," a title borrowed from their martial arts counterparts. They command a rank-and-file made up of teams focusing on the improvement of the organization's processes. Just search the internet for "six sigma" and you'll come up with several informative descriptions of its history and current practice. The Six Sigma Academy, a Motorola spin-off, provides consulting service to many of the leading practitioners of this approach. What I want to focus on here though, is the 6 sigma metric itself, not the concept or the approach.
on 22-Apr-10 01:43.
While Sarbanes-Oxley shook up the world of publicly traded companies and forced them to scramble to achieve compliance, it also played a pivotal role in bringing enterprise risk management (ERM) to the attention of corporate executives. Enterprise risk management, for many companies, has emerged as a value-added continuation of Sarbanes-Oxley compliance and audit efforts. Seventy-six percent of respondents in a recent survey said they either intended to expand SOX compliance into ERM or were in a stage of implementation.1
With the growing interest in ERM that has emerged in recent years, it has not just been seen as an initiative but a key component of corporate strategy. The strategic importance of ERM is mentioned in the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations (COSO) ERM integrated framework definition, which states: "Enterprise risk management is a process, affected by an entity's board of directors, management and other personnel, applied in strategy setting and across the enterprise, designed to identify potential events that may affect the entity. . . to provide reasonable assurance regarding the achievement of entity objectives." This definition describes ERM as a part of corporate strategy that is influenced by organizational leadership and put in motion to guide the achievement of organizational goals.
on 22-Apr-10 01:41.
The dearth of good, cheap, undeveloped sites in suburban markets, the escalating number of vacant greyfield properties, and the expansion of mass transit systems into suburban areas are all factoring into a changed American suburban market.
The recession has brought the 50-year expansion of suburban development patterns to a halt. It also is accelerating the trend to retrofit, reinhabit, and "regreen" the rising numbers of dead malls, dying office parks, and other declining suburban properties. While no one likes to see businesses fail, redevelopment of these sites to respond to new suburban demographics, rising transportation costs, and infrastructure investments provides the opportunity to transform the most automobiledependent landscapes into more sustainable, more urban places. The big development project for the next 50 years likely will be retrofitting suburbia.
Some of the changes will be incremental-a change of use here, a new street or building there, much as one sees in the "incremental urbanism" that characterizes the perception of how the world's great cities evolved over time. However, American suburban development patterns are so highly specialized for single uses that their layouts are resistant to incremental adaptation. Consequently, the most effective redevelopments will be those that retrofit the streets, blocks, and lots to provide a compact, connected, walkable mix of uses and housing types. Unfortunately, projects at this scale often evoke criticism as "instant cities" or "faux urbanism." The challenge for all involved is to provide settings and buildings that transcend their "instant" status and inspire their communities.
on 22-Apr-10 01:39.
Minneapolis-based UnitedHealth Group says better use of technology can take a bite out of nation's health care tab.
The report, issued by the company's Center for Health Reform and Modernization, says savings of $332 billion in national health expenditure could be realized over the next decade by streamlining administrative processes. The paper contends savings can accrue across entire health care system by modernizing the administrative and transactional aspects of health care. For example, over the next decade the report predicts broader use of automated swipe cards could save $18 billion, creation of a national payment accuracy clearinghouse could save $41 billion, and elimination of paper checks and paper remittance advice could save $109 billion.
on 22-Apr-10 01:38.
America is the largest consumer of energy in the world. The majority of this energy is derived from dirty, polluting sources such as coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear power. Our consumption of these fuels exacerbates global warming, keeps us dependent upon oil and other fossil fuels, and undermines our economy.
40 percent of America's energy-ten percent of all the energy used in the world-goes towards powering our buildings. Much of this energy is simply wasted through poor insulation, leaky windows, inefficient lighting, heating or cooling systems, and poor construction techniques.
If we stay on our current unsustainable path, the energy we use in buildings will:
Grow by 6.61 quadrillion British Thermal Units (BTUs) between 2010 and 2030-a 16 percent increase, or as much energy as is used to power 86 million homes for 2 years;
Account for 43 percent of total U.S. energy consumption by 2030, making us even more dependent on imported and polluting fossil fuels; and
Have increased emissions of carbon dioxide by 323.95 million metric tons, roughly equivalent to the annual carbon dioxide emissions of 80 coal-fired power plants.
For us to make meaningful progress in reducing our energy consumption and our nation's global warming emissions, we must use far less energy in our buildings.
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