Smoke Detector Battery Replacement Process

Why am I writing about replacing smoke detector batteries?  It's all about process improvement. Every six months, we are tormented by our home smoke detectors chirping after we replace the batteries.  As a rule, we know we're supposed to replace smoke detector batteries at daylight savings time (twice a year). Also, if the smoke detectors start chirping or beeping off and on, we know it's time to change the batteries.  Six months ago, I decided I was going to put an end to the chirping once and for all.  I planned to document the battery replacement process and find out how to consistently replace the batteries with no chirping.  I created a decision table to help me get it all out on paper.  I then spent a few hours writing test procedures and testing the outcomes.  If you want to drive yourself a little crazy, listen to smoke detectors screaming in your ear for a few hours.  After all was said and done, I had a successful process documented.

You may ask yourself why I didn't check Yahoo Answers or eHow for the answer to my problem.  Well, I did and they sucked!

I searched on: Smoke Detector Battery Replacement Process, How to Change the Batteries in Your Smoke Detector Chirping Smoke Detectors Stop Chirping Smoke Detectors...

So, if the planets align and there is some poor sucker out there suffering from the same problem, I hope you find this post and it works for you.

Scenario:  We live in a three level home.  Each of the smoke detectors is wired into a single circuit and they all use 9volt batteries.  We are using standard First Alert smoke detectors.  In the past, if we replaced any or all batteries, the smoke detectors would chirp randomly.

How to avoid the annoying smoke detector beeping

  1. Replace the battery and make sure the + and - are facing the correct direction.
  2. One smoke detector at a time, replace the battery, connect the electrical plug, then push the test button.
  3. Let the detector cycle through the screaming load test.
  4. If there is more than one detector, move on to the next.

What was the problem?

The problem I was running into was the hush button.  The detector was so loud, I would push the hush button before it was allowed to run it's test cycle.  I included the action on my decision table and was able to isolate the problem there.

Just in case, in the event I forgot the process, I saved it in Evernote.  I just replaced all of the batteries and it worked perfectly.  I was so excited, I just had to blog about it.


Zombie Tug of War

This week I'm in an all-out tug of war with the zombies.  Just short of getting hostile with the lot, I figured writing a blog post would be more cathartic.  I'm going to rant about enterprise tools and how I see them fit into the world of business.  Zombie Tug of WarI've been asked many times what products I would suggest to satisfy different needs.  I'll admit, I'm pretty passionate about some of the tools I use.  I love Evernote.  Why?  My memory sucks!   If I can get my thoughts into Evernote, I know I'll be good.  I also love using AgileZen.  I know, you've heard me talk about them before.  I keep a physical Kanban and a virtual one.  It's what I describe as both lightweight and elegant. It just works!  One more little app you may of heard of that I love is Google docs.  I like the fact that I can edit my documents anywhere and then share or collaborate on them with other team members. There are 3 primary commonalities that I can note about these 3 applications.  [1] They are super easy to use,  [2] either free or very affordable, [3] they help me save time.

So, what are the zombies taunting me with?

I'm working with a customer who is on a Novell network, uses Groupwise email, and has the poorest implementation of Microsoft SharePoint I've seen since I was introduced to SharePoint 5+ years ago.  None of these applications are necessarily bad.  But, when it comes to this bastardized configuration I'm currently dealing with, I get the feeling the only reasons these apps are being used is because really good salespeople sold a few zombies on these half-baked solutions.

Before you spend tens of thousands of hard earned dollars on the next "silver bullet", ask yourself why you need the product.  Are you trying to fix a process?  If so, I think you'll end up with an expensive crappy process.  Let me be very blunt.  Enterprise software will not fix a crappy process! Enterprise software is for making a refined process more efficient.  When I started advising this customer over two years ago, a vendor had just sold them on a deployment of MS SharePoint with Project Server.   Why?  So the customer could internally track time being billed to different work packages.  That's it!  What I found odd was the customer didn't have an existing way of internally tracking the time.  So, instead of having people fill out Excel spreadsheets to get them started, they just went for a solution that would solve all of their problems.  Have you read that promise before?

The result?  A solution nobody uses.

Score: Zombies 1 / Humanity -$50,000

My apologies for the negative nature of this post.  Happier posts are on the way!

[VIA: Oxford Dictionaries]

Like the image? Find it at Pictofigo

Evernote Site Memory

Evernote Site MemoryIf you're like me, you're getting older and your memory is starting to slip.  So, to combat that, I added a new feature to The Critical Path site.  It's call Evernote Site Memory. I've been a long time Evernote user.  They just created this new product called Site Memory, which allows you to clip an blog post or web page.  I hope you find it useful.

To start, get yourself a free Evernote account.  Click on the Elephant icon on my page that is labeled "clip".  It will grab the blog post or page and add it to your Evernote account.


Process Improvement and Grilling Steak

What's a weekend without grilling steak?  I would say a weekend without a good blog post idea.  Some things in life are an art and some a science.  It doesn't matter if it's project management/leadership or grilling a steak. So, what is a geeky way to write about grilling the perfect steak?  I would say compare it to the Deming cycle, or PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) cycle to illustrate the point.  PDCA is a continuous quality improvement model consisting of a logical sequence of four repetitive steps for continuous improvement.

  • Plan what you intend to do. In this step assess where you are, where you need to be, why it is important, and plan how to close the gap. Identify some potential solutions.
  • Do try out or test the solutions.
  • Check to see if the changes you tried had the effect you hoped for, and make sure that there are no negative consequences associated with them. Assess if you have accomplished your objective.
  • Act on what you have learned. If you have accomplished your objective, put controls into place so the issue never happens again. If you have not accomplished your objective, go through the cycle again, starting with the Plan step.

PDCA applies to entrepreneurial ideas, application development, and anything that happens to do with my grill.  Realistically, you can apply it to anything where unknowns exist.  There are just so many variables, you need to be prepared to act and pivot.  I have grilled countless steaks and have refined my process to the point that it finally meets my quality standards.  On occasion, I do check to see if my process holds true and all I do is mess up a good steak.  I won't go into specifics as to what my perfect grilled steak process is.  (Unless someone asks)  Rather, I'll say I documented it and saved it in Evernote.

Now if only I could do the same with a hamburger.