Performance by Kevin McManus

What’s missing matters most
Years ago, Dr. W. Edwards Deming stated that the most important things are both unknown and unknowable. “What’s missing matters most” is my present-day corollary to that quote. Two or three pieces of missing information often complete the process picture and allow the true performance effectiveness story to be told.

Health Systems by Valerie Boelman

Thinking of healthcare as a repair shop
When I began as an industrial engineer in healthcare, my colleagues welcomed having an “expert” resource to assist in process improvement. It didn’t bother them that I lacked healthcare experience, but I was occasionally reminded that the hospital was not a factory. One quickwitted colleague had a brilliant response: “True, hospitals are not a factory. They are a repair shop.”

Innovation by Joseph Byrum

The economic rationalist’s approach to AI
In part 1 of this column from the August ISE issue – “A realist’s view for restoring trust in AI” ( – we saw that the public places little faith in artificial intelligence (AI). This is part of the nature of trust itself. You might “trust” a weather forecaster not just because the forecast offered happens to be accurate but because the explanation provided for why it will likely rain tomorrow.

Systems Engineering by Ricardo Valerdi

The ‘Hole in the Wall’ experiment
Sugata Mitra, an Indian computer scientist, is known to have developed the Yellow Pages in his country. But he is even better known for his “Hole in the Wall” experiment. It is a fascinating tale of self-organized learning and has interesting implications for anyone developing products and services for human users.

ISE Body of Knowledge by Denis Cormier

Applying BoK to additive manufacturing, 3D printing
Despite the importance of manufacturing to economic competitiveness and U.S. national security, the industry experienced severe declines in the 1990s and 2000s. Few students expressed interest in manufacturing careers, and many academic programs were discontinued. Interest in advanced manufacturing has recently rebounded, with 3D printing and additive manufacturing (AM) largely responsible for this surge of interest.