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Software SIG: Process Improvement and Sun Tzu’s  

Patrick Henry Library, Vienna; FDA Silver Spring; MITRE Bedford MA; MITRE Eatontow; MITRE Aberdeen,
Patrick Henry Library, 101 Maple Ave E, Vienna, VA 22180
FDA, Bld 66, room G512, 10903 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring, MD
Various, Maryland

Apr 26, 2011    6:30 pm - 8:30 pm (GMT -5:00) EST

Process Improvement and Sun Tzu’s

The Art of War Mashup

Presented by: Barbara Dreon Canody

presentation slides

Many process improvement professionals have learned that process improvement, like the art of war, can be “a road either to safety or ruin. Hence, it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected.”

The Art of War has been used as part of military training with positive results across cultures and centuries, and is often read in combination with extensive commentaries relating the advice to famous historic battles that illustrate its points.  The Art of War has also provided value when extended to judiciously apply it in other settings, including business and trial law.  This mashup extends the tradition of applying Sun Tzu’s advice to new frontiers by coupling selected passages with process improvement lessons learned for the edification of those who sponsor or leader process improvement efforts. 

The Art of War promises, “The general that hearkens to my counsel and acts upon it, will conquer:  let such a one be retained in command!  The general that hearkens not to my counsel nor acts upon it, will suffer defeat:  let such a one be dismissed!” The author creates a mini-mashup using elements of The Art of War as a lens to help focus on a related wisdom from process improvement lessons learned.  The lessons learned were derived through an extensive literature search and sifted with personal experience. This mashup results in a package that organizes process improvement advice in a new way that is both entertaining and instructive.  Some elements of The Art of War are less applicable for process improvement advocates (for example, the concept of deception as a primary advantage).  However, many portions apply delightfully and provide more than mere entertainment.  Sun Tzu’s advice furnishes metaphors that process improvement leaders can use to select strategically superior approaches and actions for successful organizational changes.  These metaphors also offer images for shared communication and persuasion so that the course selected is more likely to succeed and to avoid paths that lessons learned show tend to lead to failure. The presentation provides selected passages and combines them with lessons learned from the field.   Portions of the advice can be leveraged for discussions with colleagues or executive sponsors.

Barbara Canody’s process improvement experience began in 1992. She has worked with Civilian and DoD government agencies, as well as with large contractors and 8A firms.  In 2008 she joined MITRE’s Software Engineering and Computing (SWEC) Department (E548).  She’s been having fun helping government sponsors ever since with various aspects of IT work, including organizational change management appraisals, consultation on systems engineering topics such as requirements or configuration management, process definition, and lessons learned.  Ms. Canody is a Certified Black Belt for Lean Six Sigma.  She also enjoys facilitating, statistics and measurement, gardening, bird watching, and teaching English for Speakers of Other Languages. 

6:30 PM – Networking and Pizza(*)

7:00 - 8:00 PM – Program

(*) There is no cost to attend at McLean and Silver Spring.


The presentation will originate at the McLean facility, with video tele-conferencing (VTC) between:

MITRE, room 1N100

7515 Colshire Drive

McLean, VA 22102

host: Scott Ankrum

cell: 240-731-7581

FDA, Bld 66, room G512

10903 New Hampshire Ave

Silver Spring, MD 20993
host: James Simpson

cell: 301-996-4976



MITRE, room 2503

Eatontown, NJ 07724

is not participating

this month

MITRE, room 1M306

202 Burlington Rd (Rt. 62)

Bedford, MA 01730

is not participating

this month

For details and driving directions, see the April 2011 Software SIG Announcement.

If you can host another location via VTC, please contact Scott Ankrum (below) 

Please use our registration page to register for this meeting: http://www.asq509.org/ht/d/DoSurvey/i/26913