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Lean Production

I have been reading The Machine That Changed the World: The Story of Lean Production (1), by James Womack and others from MIT’s International Motor Vehicle Program (Content no longer available) research team. This book caused a sensation 20 years ago with its description of the Toyota Production System. The blurb on the book’s back cover says, “The hallmarks of lean production are teamwork, communication, and efficient use of resources. The results are remarkable cars with one-third the defects, built in half the factory space, using half the man-hours.”

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Conceptual Schemas

The central focus of MBR&D is not the mathematical equations but rather the conceptual synthesis process that integrates all available information and rational extrapolations to better understand drug pharmacology in the context of the disease process.

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How a tax begat bebop.

During World War 2, a federal excise tax was imposed on supper clubs to raise funds from their wealthy patrons. According to Eric Felton in The Wall Street Journal, this so-called cabaret tax imposed a 30% tax at venues that featured dancing to a live band and served food. Clubs that provided instrumental music with no dancing were exempt. Within 5 years, the big band sound was dead, replaced by “a new and undanceable jazz performed primarily by small instrumental groups – bebop. . ..” The cabaret tax was finally eliminated in 1965, but by then the rock-and-roll revolution was well underway.

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Optimism in a time of pessimism.

Back in 1974, Stewart Brand’s advice was to “stay hungry, stay foolish,” as a way of bringing a beginner’s mind to new challenges. He still follows that advice, and he now says, “The phrase allows you to open your mind and explore. It means putting aside the explanations provided by social constructs and ideologies.”

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Kinda like standing in front of a development team, huh?

G.H. Hardy* said, “A mathematician, like a painter or a poet, is a maker of patterns. And just as in poetry and painting, the mathematician’s patterns must be beautiful. Beauty is the first test,” he said. “There is no permanent place in the world for ugly mathematics.”

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Paul Volcker: Think More Boldly

In December 2009, The Wall Street Journal sponsored its second Future of Finance Initiative (links to a dead page) to provide a forum for 80 of the world’s top financiers to brainstorm suggestions for reforming the financial system in the wake of the 2008 implosion of the global economy.

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Run Record for Model Development

The EMA and FDA recommend including a run record in your technical report to describe any major decisions and should include an overview of the steps taken during model development. KIWI 1.3, available in May 2015, will reduce the time taken to perform this task to just minutes.

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How Jazz Hastened Civil Rights

Jazz had a largely unappreciated role in hastening the arrival of the civil rights movement, according to veteran jazz writer Nat Hentoff. As early as the 1920s, white and black jazz musicians played together in after-hours jam sessions. But it was not until the 1940s, Hentoff said in the January 15, 2009, issue of the Wall Street Journal, that jazz musicians and their audiences mixed publicly in clubs—tentatively at first, but then freely and openly, in violation of local laws and mores. As jazz captured more and more avid listeners, white Americans started to understand the effect of segregation in all aspects of American culture.

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Innovation at the intersection of creativity and automation

Chapter 3 of 3. Need to catch up? Read the previous post in this series about scientific workflows.

In the same way that the guillotine concentrates the senses, the need to improve productivity in the pharmaceutical industry has become a life-or-death imperative. Improving productivity does not mean working harder and faster while doing the same job as before. Improving productivity lies in innovation—in the technology and processes that clever minds bring into existence. Moreover, what this innovation must accomplish is vividly clear. We must reduce the time and cost of drug development; increase the probability of successful experiments; and bring better drugs to the marketplace.

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Not too complicated for words.

Jackson Pollock’s Autumn Rhythm (seen here) is an example of a complex painting that can be grasped with a few moments of contemplation, according to Terry Teachout (links to a dead page) in the Wall Street Journal. Pollock worked during the mid 20th century, when nature was assumed to be random. However, as Robert Taylor (links to content that is no longer available) explained in a 2002 Scientific American article:

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