Tasty treat I would love to share


So I met this guy at work and discovered he is a local musician. As my faithful readers know, I am a huge hard rock and metal fan and love to dig into different things. Chad Novell is in a band called Fibonacci Sequence, as well as a Netherlands-based band called Mercy Isle (also worth a listen!)  Feel free to look up the term if you don’t know what it means (I have yet to hear the story behind how the band came to name the group such an intriguing name).

All I know right now is that this is some pretty good stuff.  Great musicianship, high-end production, wonderfully flowing melodies, and very cool package consisting of double vinyl with booklet and phenomenal artwork and photography.  Top notch!


The music defines itself far better than I ever could so stop by the website and sample the epic pieces then buy the CD or vinyl.  Best thing I bought this year outside of Maiden’s The Book of Souls.  This is some very tasty prog rock in the vein of Savatage and Trans Siberian Orchestra, with a splash of vintage European prog rock.


I also know these guys have played in the WMSE studio and you all know my affinity for Tom Crawford and crew over at WMSE.

You never know, one of these tasty tunes just might end up on one of my future WMSE shows!

Thanks for dropping by!


Mason and His Best Buddies

My 18-year-old son’s name is Mason. I’ve been raising him since he was 6 years old and adopted him a few months after his father passed away 3 years ago. Mason has Autism and intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and is non-verbal, speaking fluent gibberish. He is currently a senior at Hamilton High School in Sussex, WI, and is a loving, caring soul that has captured the hearts of all who know him. He loves HHS and is often seen wearing the hand-me-down and leftover football or basketball tee shirts that have been given to him. Every day he enthusiastically runs out the front door to start his school day.

This is Mason’s third year in Hamilton’s Best Buddies program. Best Buddies is an organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Hamilton High School welcomed Best Buddies during the 2015-2016 school year.

Mason was matched with Best Buddy Sam Herriges the first year, a young man named Erik the second, and a young lady by the name of Harper for the current school year. He has attended dances, school sporting events, and in general, hung out and watched movies, listened to music, or grabbed a burger at the local Culvers.

Mason, as is the case with many young folks with Autism or IDD, does not have the option of texting friends to meet up with them or simply ask to go hang out. Best Buddies has opened up that opportunity for Mason to expand his network and be with friends as any normal teen would. He loves cruising and singing with Sam and Erik while jamming to Fallout Boy’s Immortal, and swiping Erik’s fried cheese curds at Culvers. He is thrilled every time Sam calls him on FaceTime from college in Minnesota and is left with a long lasting smile. He’s not much to engage in meaningful conversation but the ear-to-ear grin and body “stims” speak volumes.

Best Buddies has turned out to be a great opportunity for Mason to socialize and do things he normally would be excluded from in high school. Next weekend he is off to another dance to enjoy another passion of his.

Mason, and so many others like him, thrive through this program but they need our help to continue to grow this to bring kids that used to be shunned and parked in back room of our schools out into the mix. To be a part of high school. To teach others how to interact with those with special needs. To simply be a normal kid when, in all actuality, many are not. Life will be long and hard for Mason with his disabilities, but his high school experience got immeasurably better when Best Buddies entered his life. Please consider helping spread this to all Wisconsin schools.

And many thanks to HSA Bank, a division of Webster Bank, for allowing me the opportunity to be of service to Best Buddies on this special day. Such a great and giving organization, one I’m proud to have recently joined.


Kaizen ROI

I love this blog written by Mike Micklewright of the Kaizen Institute posted on their blog site.  https://www.kaizen.com/blog/post/2017/07/11/should-kaizen-activities-provide-an-roi.html

I am familiar with an organization that does not mingle ROIs with Kaizen activities and I believe they leave a lot on the table by this practice and in fact, introduce significant waste thereby undermining the entire CI effort.  As the article state, the ROI does exclusively determine the success that can be achieved through Kaizen activity and in the case of this organization, ROI activity is deployed by functional departments that do not use the Kaizen tools.  This is a huge opportunity lost for that long term sustainable gain.

Thanks for the great post, Mike!


How do you manage your calendar?

Summer is moving along at a fair clip so far. My July calendar is jam packed with activity and there sure is a lot going on.  Son’s birthday trip to Chicago, major tree trimming project, installation of hardwood floor, work travel, major seminar rewrites/presentation planning, listening sessions for my new Iron Maiden records, and a few days’ vacation at the beach are but a few things on my July plan.

Yet I am not overwhelmed.

The key here is planning. Today I will be looking hard at my Q3 plan to ensure it still fits into the bigger scheme then dialing in the week ahead.  With work life keeping me on the road and family/home life keeping me hopping, it is critical that I take the time to manage the plan.

I ask some basic questions. Where is the calendar or my time overextended?  Am I managing major projects with the proper amount of overlap?  Can I avoid being in two places at once?  Does my calendar align with my family’s?  Am I meeting the demands of my family and job well enough?  And am I leaving myself enough time for my hobbies and health?

My calendars cover 2 areas: family life and job life. I manage this in peaceful (usually) coexistence with my wife’s and my boss’s calendars and I use technology to do so.   Google Calendar has been a fantastic tool for my wife and me to juggle our schedules and fortunately, I am often able to plan my work travel around family situations that demand I remain local.  Likewise, I can plan my family activities around my work activities so I can handle the sometimes extraordinary demands of work.

The key is that I have to stay on top of it. I couple tips that help me do that:

  1. Long range planning – I look at the overall family plan and work plan over the next 6-12 months to get a general sense of where I need to be doing what. Work travel gets the edge here since I am covering 7 plants, 4 of which demand out of state travel.
  2. Medium range planning – This is my 3-6 months plan, generally. I fine tune my travel schedule with my family plan. This is where I lock in a contractor for a floor installation or plan to paint a bedroom.
  3. Short range planning – This is when the rubber hits the road and I start planning the specific hours and days for the next 1-3 months.  For example, this weekend we are taking the birthday trip, preparing and dropping our son off at a weeklong camp, clearing out the bedroom for flooring installation, installing the floor, getting a very large tree trimmed, putting the bedroom back together, and chilling the afternoon of the 4th rewriting my seminar presentations the remainder of the week.  All these activities over the course of 5 days require planning the hours and sometimes minutes.

I am a firm believer that many of us operate out of fear and when my calendar is in disarray and when I find myself hopping from one unplanned thing to the next and pissing people off in the process, my fear level goes up and things only get worse.

I urge you to take a look at your calendars. Use the technology, work together, and get shit done.  And remember to plan some time for yourself.

Thanks for dropping by.


Did I spell that right?

So recently I came across three examples of words misspelled in a public setting.  I know we all see this from time to time.

Yesterday, I came across two.  One was a car dealership in Burlington, Iowa that is listing on the large sign in front of their store advertising a Ford Ecsape for sale.  Oops.

The second was on LinkedIn for a digital image of a flyer stating “Acheiving Excellence….”

The third one I actually spotted a couple months ago and it threw me off a bit.  I had to look it up.  The word was on the sign out in front of a public library that had been promoting an essential oils class that was cancelled.  The word was spelled canceled.  I did not realize until I looked it up later that there are actually two correct spellings of the word cancelled.  Or canceled.  So I am giving the library the benefit of the doubt because perhaps the signage was intentional although I can’t be sure.  Maybe they just got lucky.  at any rate, I learned something from it.

The dealership and the LinkedIn post, however, are business-related and I guess my lesson here is that sometimes it matters.  Misspelling the word acheiving when used with the word excellence is not a good thing when promoting such things.  And maybe nobody noticed Ecsape other than me nor might it detract from someone buying the vehicle.

But it means a couple employees were less diligent than they should be and while these might not be critical errors, business owners might be asking what else are they missing that may be critical.

Thanks for stopping by.




Welcome to my inaugural blog on the new site.  I’m sorry to say that I just took down my Bates Management Services website but found it to be a bit irrelevant for what I’m doing and I could no longer justify the time or the spend.  It was a site that I was proud of, it’s many iterations of my own design.  Nothing fancy, just mine.   It served me well, so long old friend.

So now Throughput – Michael’s Blog has migrated to this new blog site, where I will continue to post my thoughts, and other’s insights, into the areas of Operational Excellence, Lean Six Sigma, Project and Program Management, and General and Operations Management.

One thought as I close this brief introductory blog, is that I am still amazed, that as large and seemingly infinite as Google is, that their support is as adept as it is.  I’m in Nowhere, Iowa with some critical questions last night and within 10 minutes of initiating an online chat with support, I once again found them to be prompt , knowledgeable, and helpful in resolving my issues.

See you soon, thanks for dropping by.