Scott first encountered Deming’s ideas while an engineer at Proctor & Gamble in 1986.
Deming training was rolled out to us. I thought it was a really wonderful thing. It provided some very innovative and realistic solutions to solve a lot of problems in the plant.
I was very enthusiastic to give it a try and saw it work. And I still have that enthusiasm for his teachings and a lot of the methods that were taught.
He mentions that after providing great training Proctor & Gamble’s management system was very reluctant to adopt the better management methods. This is a fairly common situation, that I find bizarre, but I have learned to understand is not unusual. He was frustrated at not being able to apply the ideas he had learned and so moved on within 3 years to move to a smaller company. He taught the Deming principles to his new company and they were readily embraced.
Scott expresses his belief that the primary reason for the resistance seen in many companies to Deming’s ideas are that those in leadership positions are most concerned about maintaining what they have. And the safe play for them is to not take chances. They are more interested in avoiding mistakes that could cost them the position they spent 20 years achieving than seeking out improvements. Russell Ackoff talked about how the decisions executives make are often explained much more easily by those executives looking out for their personal interests than if assume they are acting based on what is best for the organization.
Phase IV Engineering’s quality policy:
Management has two primary Quality System responsibilities:
Maintain a staff of people that are highly-qualified and genuinely care.
Maintain an environment where people that genuinely care will thrive and have a high degree of pride in workmanship.
When people care – quality products, efficient processes, happy customers, and a
really good place to work will naturally follow – with or without quality system
There are many online resources for those looking to improve the practice of management in their organization in a way consistent with Dr. Deming’s management system. The W. Edwards Deming Institute maintains several online resources:
Deming Prize medal (presented by the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers).
This webcast shows the presentation at our 2015 annual conference, Driving Out Fear: Why and How, by Doug Stilwell and Mark Lane. Doug Stilwell provides an overview on some of the theory and science and behind stress and fear.
And then Mark talked about what can be done to reduce fear in organizations.
You can walk into a classroom in Urbandale that is a 3-year-old pre-school classroom and you can see kids and adults engaged in PDSA, learning cycles. You can walk into an AP chemistry classroom in Urbandale and you’ll see and hear students and teachers engaged in PDSA cycles. You can walk into a senior level, district level decision-making process around a human resources issue and that is going to be built around the PDSA model.
So every stakeholder, every student, every teacher, every staff member has that reliable, predictable, PDSA model as the foundation of the work that we are doing.
This focuses people on using a good strategy to learn and improve systems. That model also aids in driving out fear by changing the common organization model of fear based direction (do what those with more power demand you do) to one where if the results need to be improved the PDSA improvement model is used to provide a standard process to find solutions that work.
Dr. Deming wrote an introduction to the book, including these words:
In the decade after the War [the Second World War], the rest of the world was devastated. North America was the only source of manufactured products that the rest of the world needed. Almost any system of management will do well in a seller’s market. Success in business in North America was confused with ability to manage.
Management in America (not all) have moved into what I call retroactive management…
The follies of the systems of management that thrived in the expanding market that followed the War are now all too obvious. They must now be blasted out, new construction commenced. Patchwork will not suffice.
Everyone doing his best is not the answer. Everyone is doing his best. It is necessary that people understand the reason for the transformation that is necessary for survival. Moreover, there must be consistency of understanding and of effort. There is no substitute for knowledge.
The biggest problem that most any company in the Western world faces is not its competitors, nor the Japanese. The biggest problems are self-inflicted, created right at home by management that are off course in the competitive world of today.
The full introduction by Dr. Deming is worth reading. The book, by Mary Walton, a journalist, is written with a journalistic style that many find more comfortable to read than Deming’s own books. Mary worked closely with Dr. Deming, accompanying him on consulting trips and having him review material (especially that material related to his thoughts on management).
The W. Edwards Deming Institute podcast with Dr. Sophronia (Frony) Ward, Managing and Founding Partner of Pinnacle Partners, Process Behavior Charts are the Secret to Understanding the Organization as a System (direct download), is another in our understanding variation series. Frony discusses the importance of Statistical Process Control (SPC) in all parts of an organization.
Frony first encountered Dr. Deming’s ideas when the University of Tennessee established an institute surrounding statistical process control. The institute became a place for people to continue learning after Dr. Deming’s 4-Day Seminar.
When I learned SPC 34 or 5 years ago, it was totally new to me. It took a little while for me to become an advocate, in the way I am not. I really didn’t recognize the impact of knowing common cause and special cause variation. But after a number of engagements, actually with organizations, it became obvious to me that SPC was the name of the game. It was the analysis technique for data off of processes that would just guide anyone at any level.
I also find the power to improving performance is understanding if the problems are due to common causes or special causes. For common causes we need to explore the entire system, and all the data, and seek to improve the overall system. For special causes we need to seek what is special about the bad result and seek to eliminate that problem from causing problems in the future. Unfortunately most problems are system based and we most often jump to special cause thinking (so we often take the wrong approaches to improvement).
She discusses how data can provide insight into the processes within the organization and how that view is often missed due to a failure to use process behavior charts (control charts) in order to understand what is really going on.
Also, there are incentives within systems that lead to, for example:
the way this organization’s financial evaluations worked would force people to run the machine and make stuff that couldn’t be used. I think the silo effect of the finance (or accounting) piece versus the production piece… [results in] parts of your system [where] the sub-optimization kills you.
Those items are all important and all are included in his SoPK. Over time his ideas remained grounded to what he expressed in the 1950’s. The expression of those ideas became richer and he raised the emphasis on understanding the critical interactions between the elements. He never saw the individual items (for example, individual points in the 14 points) as discrete items. They work together as a system. The SoPK provides a view that emphasizes the importance of the interdependence within the entire system of management.
The view of an organization as a system by W. Edwards Deming from his Japan lectures in 1950’s. Also found in Out of the Crisis and as part of the appreciation of the system within the SoPK.
The System of Profound Knowledge (SoPK) is made up of 4 interrelated elements:
Somebody at any level does have some sphere of influence that they can impact… by just thinking from a systems standpoint, by looking at the organization differently than some of the other folks who view it as an [organization with] very segmented, very separate roles and positions and responsibilities. [By] looking to blend some of these together maybe we can be more effective, efficient and productive.
One of the things I encourage people who may say “I am not in that leadership role” is that if you use some of these ideas, and if you start to think systemically, early on in your career it will give you visibility, and a different “lens” through which to look at the organization.
And from my standpoint, it helped me move up faster, in the organization, than I would ever have been able to do. And if gave me the confidence to come up with ideas and proposals so I moved very quickly from being an assistant, to being a sales trainee, and then into the account executive position: each step along the way I assumed a greater and greater role and [more] responsibility.
Those type of ideas and that type of thinking really helped me move up… not only me personally but more importantly, the people around me and the organization as a whole.
This personal experience of using an understanding of Deming’s ideas to think differently and then be able to make a difference in the organization and to the others in the organization is something I shared with Kevin.
Eric Budd’s presentation, Is There Hope…?, at our 2015 annual conference.
In Eric’s presentation he frequently asked the attendees to think and discuss or write down their ideas related to the ideas he was presenting. It is very valuable to have those listening (in a learning environment) think about what they are learning and write down their thoughts, questions or conclusions. This process engages people and deepens the learning they achieve.
Often, when listening passively we passively accept what is being said. But without taking time (even just a couple of minutes) thinking about the new ideas and how they relate to you and the issues you face, it is very easy to walk away without actually absorbing what was said. As a presenter, providing space to think, reflect and actively express those thoughts (by writing them down or sharing them with someone else) is a very useful strategy to improve how much people take away from a presentation.
Having them both write down thoughts and discuss them with a partner, or in a small group, is useful. Some people will find one much more useful, others will find the other option more useful (or comfortable) but both are useful and re-enforce each other. Having people write down their thoughts and conclusions is very useful and is very under-utilized by presenters in my experience.
Be a part of our first Deming In Education Initiative Seminar
The Deming Institute presents a two-day interactive seminar and hands-on introduction to the Deming Method. Led by David Langford, this seminar focuses on addressing the following questions:
Why is the Deming Method relevant today?
What is the background of Dr. W. Edwards Deming?
What is systems thinking in education?
What are the basic Deming principles?
How can Deming’s 14 points be applied in education?
What does learning look like in the new system?
How do I get started at my site?
What are some of the pitfalls to avoid?
What simple methods will help me to get started? How do I expand my circle of influence to affect larger systems?
The Two-Day Seminar is a time for educators to deepen their own understanding and to expose colleagues to the Deming theory. It’s for those interested in making a profound and sustained difference in education and inspiring “joy in learning” in the next generation of students. Participants are encouraged to come as a team and learn together how to support the transformation effort in their schools.
Who should attend: Teachers, principals, superintendents, administrators, school board members, parents and government leaders responsible for education at the local, state or federal level.