The RDA Blog of Pat Maykuth

Pat Maykuth

I have always been interested in finding new methodologies that address interesting questions rather than limiting the questions asked to those we already had methodologies and statistics to answer. To that end we founded Research Design Associates. Our goal is to provide research resources to individuals and organizations that lack the in-house research capacity to get the answers they need.

I prefer to work with small or emerging growth companies because they tend to be agile and act on findings. Working with these companies as they develop their strategic agendas is exciting and fun. Large companies have inherent political forces that color how results are viewed. They tend to be slower to act and often rely on history more than current developments and future opportunities. We are equally interested in helping not-for-profit and public-private partnerships ask the right questions that will enable them to move toward their mission in today’s marketplace.

Research is like paper folding. In origami for hundreds of years it was believed that only 7 folds could be made from a single sheet of paper. Then, just after the turn of the millennium, a clever high school student in California demonstrated how there could be 12 folds. She did the math and took paper folding to a whole new level. Research Design Associates is where math, science, creativity, and innovation come together to help us conceive better solutions and futures that had not been thought of before. New technologies and opportunities abound if we take the time and expend the effort to look and learn.

My formal education resulted from the pursuit of degrees in psychology from George Washington University to the University of Wyoming and through a Ph.D from Emory University. The rest of the story resulted from thinkng about challenging issues with folks interested in workable solutions.

I continue my lifelong passion for and engagement with horses that run and jump.

We Have to Diminish the Lethality

We must hold our elected officials accountable for leading public policy discussion, action, and comprehensive progress toward addressing mass violence in our community space. The tragedy of the school shootings in Connecticut has muted partisan rhetoric for a few days. Now is the time to require our elected officials to step back from politics, pause incessant campaigning, mute special interest groups and stop fundraising until the policy addressing mass violence is enacted.

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12.17.2012
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Throwing the Innovation Incubator Out With the Dirty Immigration Bathwater

For more than 3 centuries talented immigrants have contributed to the US’s greatness. At a time when we are not producing enough home grown talent, we are no longer attracting the best and the brightest from around the world. Short-sighted post 9/11 immigration laws have caused a brain drain of people who came to the US legally but cannot obtain a H1B visa (or green card) to allow them to work, start companies, employ Americans and innovate. The visa system is broken and the impact this has had on skilled immigrants threatens our future capacity to innovate.

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11.18.2012
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We Elected Them

A few months into President Obama’s first term Republican leaders in Congress openly stated that their #1 goal was to deny him a second term. In the process, they denied the American electorate a functioning government. Nice work! Yet the Republican leadership could not have caused the divide without many legislators and citizens drawing ideological lines in the sand. While the goal of denying Obama a second term failed, we are stuck with the residual ideologically rigid non-functioning government that has yet to step up to the task of functionally addressing the country’s problem.

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11.12.2012
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Probability is hard to understand and does not really get easier with use

While jumping to conclusions can allow fast, heuristic decision that are often correct and expedient; it can also lead to false conclusions when there is insufficient information, and little reality basis for the conclusion beyond immediate experience. Research that satisfies the premises of the statistical model force logical consistency in the math and offer an opportunity to improve information quality. Careful and thoughtful probability research can provide insights and answers well beyond verbal logic. It is a second set of information available to those who will slow the decision making process and grapple with the novel way of looking at the world.

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10.14.2012
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We’re not so good at understanding probability

We routinely work with brilliant scientists, business leaders, legal adjudicators and policy decision makers of all ages and experiences. Yet these very competent folks rarely use the results of probability statistics as primary components in their decision making. They mostly substitute some form of intuitive math, “experience” or “judgment”. During political campaigns it is always frustrating to hear distorted or down right fabricated numbers being used to bolster one candidate or another. It just makes sense to disregard numbers jumble in situations where there is little capacity to easily verify or grasp truth about what the numbers mean. The tendency to disregard all politician’s’ numbers as lies throws out the baby with the bath, it is completely understandable.  Yet scientists, economists and business decision makers ought to be able to use probability to sort out fact from fiction in the fields where they are expert. But there is little evidence that these probability based judgments are routinely used in any field.

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10.8.2012
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Feasibility research - not just for big companies any more

Entrepreneurs are a passionate lot, committed to their vision. Small business or companies with a single product line generally tightly focused on the assets of their product and mastering the complexity of production and distribution. While it is essential to master execution, few products succeed that do not actually contribute to the solution of the customers’ problem. If a small company only focuses on the realities of production to the relative exclusion of consumer need/wants, it will likely fail.

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7.22.2012
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Distrubution Channels Challenged by Ecommerce

The growth of ecommerce has meant a seismic shift in the relationships between consumers, retailers, distributors, manufacturers and service providers. It presents many companies with the option of altering, reducing or eliminating the role of intermediaries and lets those providers transact directly with their customers. Small companies with a limited number of products do no have to spend years getting the attention of distributors, paying large warehousing and rep fees, buying shelf space and comping product. However it is not a free ride

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6.18.2012
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How big a sample do I need?

At least once a week a client asks what is the appropriate sample size. The right sample size depends on what you know, how you are measuring it, and how accurate your findings need to be. Your investment of time and thought in experimental design and defining meaningful measures will do more than anything to insure meaningful and accurate research outcomes.

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4.29.2012
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Horse vets in the cloud

My goal was to demystify what moving to the cloud might mean for them short and long term. Short term there’s enormous opportunity for ambulatory medicine; real time access to medical records and billing, current research and in depth medical information, communication with clients and collaboration with a world of colleagues. Long term, it is where business will be conducted.

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11.27.2011
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My bank went bust

Much to my chagrin I found out that MY small local bank failed last Friday. was interested in a bank serving the local community and accountable to it in preference to multinational investors. I’m a bit stuck on real estate loans backed by land and not multiply sold paper. I remain troubled by the creation of the image of wealth or security in the absence of that value during the housing bubble. No I’m not harking back to the gold standard. We do need new financial vehicles. However I want my checking account, credit card and debit card fees to reflect the cost of those transaction, not to be building a pool of money to drive risky Wall Street commoditized investments.

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11.13.2011
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