The Lean Enterprise Institute has published webcasts of discussions with James Womack, Dan Jones and John Shook exploring reflections on 25 years of lean which I think are quite good. This excerpt looks at learning from other communities of interest and ideas used by the lean startup.
I agree with the idea that different management communities can learn from each other. And I think lean thinking and lean startup communities are two that mesh very well with those that believe in Deming’s ideas. It is true there are plenty of bad implementations of lean (usually with very superficial understanding of lean that are use some terms and maybe try some tools but not much else) but there is also a large group of lean folks that practice a lean thinking model that works well with Deming’s ideas.
It is articulated as a learning cycle. A learning cycle in which you are trying to build both knowledge of customer value and knowledge of the means of production for customer value [the performance of the process] simultaneously.
This may not immediately strike you as profound, but I believe it is. The focus on process thinking and performance as seen by what the customer values was not common even in 1990, or even today (though it is more common today). And in 1951 it was a very radical this view compared to how organizations actually operated.
The theory of knowledge teaches us that a statement, if it conveys knowledge predicts future outcome, with risk of being wrong, and that it fits without failure observations of the past.
Rational prediction requires theory and builds knowledge through systematic revision and extension of theory based on comparison of prediction with observation.
And the video includes the nice illustrative story of Chantecler the rooster (also detailed in the New Economics) to show how a theory is falsified by one failure of the theory to match reality.
In [the PDSA] cycle there is a synthesis of two things. There is a synthesis of taking action aid at improvement and learning. There are cycles that look similar, but they are not the same…
The PDCA cycle, as it is commonly described, is really an improvement cycle; not a learning cycle – if learning happens it happens by accident in the PDCA cycle…
There is also the scientific method – which is a learning cycle. It is a cycle by which you are testing hypotheses. But it is not an improvement cycle. It is not a cycle aimed at making changes that are an attempt to cause improvement…
The really critical piece of the [PDSA] cycle then is like we had in the story of Chantecler – prediction: prediction and the implicit theory upon which the prediction is based. So you are making change that is aimed at improvement but you are doing that at the same time as making predictions about outcomes articulating the theory. And then when outcomes are not as predicted… then we have cause to change the theory – cause to learn.
I really like this clip from Ian’s talk quite a bit (and the whole talk). Watch it and hopefully you will enjoy it also.
This is the first webcast excerpt from the 2013 Annual conference of The W. Edwards Deming Institute we have posted. This is from Ian Bradbury’s presentation: Deming 101.
This is a system [of management] and within each of these areas there are powerful ideas but a large part of the value of this comes in the interaction between the ideas: the application of ideas from one domain of knowledge into other domains of knowledge and synthesizing this into a coherent system of thought. If you take one thing from this talk I would ask that you take away the idea of these 4 bodies of knowledge and their interdependency.
When you are thinking about change and thinking about problems asking yourself if you are thinking about it from each of these perspectives and how each inform each other can be very powerful in contemplating different aspects of change.
Nida Backitus has described the system of profound knowledge as lens through which provided a rich ability to interpret experience.
The value of thinking about ideas with an understanding of the 4 bodies of knowledge and how they interact with each other is very important (and something very often overlooked). For me anyway, it is also one of the reasons it is challenging to explain the value of this way of thinking. The value grows as you become more familiar with each area of knowledge and the interactions they all have on each other. This is certainly not a unique problem – providing clear explanations to systems with many interactions is often difficult.
There are few managers today that would say their organization doesn’t focus on customers. It is fairly accepted that in order to proposer a business needs to convince customers to pay. But I find most organizations I interact with don’t do a decent job of focusing on customers (so customers are provided much worse service than they should be). The issue, I see, is not in making the case customers are important, people agree with that. Yet still many organizations are not well designed to provide value to customers and to continually improve the value provided.
The Deming perspective goes beyond the statement that the organization is concerned with customers with a complete management philosophy and management system that directs resources to continually improve the value provided to customers.
The organization needs an aim, a shared understanding of what the organization provides to customers that provides direction to the organization (point 1 of Deming’s 14 points – Create constancy of purpose). This aim guides the organization and is adjusted over the years and decades as the marketplace and the organizations role (the value the organization aims to provide to customers) changes.
The focus goes beyond pleasing the customer you are faced with at any one time in the Deming context. The Deming management system is designed to learn all we can from every customer interaction to improve the process of delivering value to all future customers. This mindset is a fundamentally different mindset from that of most companies (I don’t know how to make the case that this is true in once blog post – I think you have to read his books, this blog, and learn from others via books, blogs, webcasts, etc.). Viewing an organization as a system and with a mindset of process thinking creates a different organization.
What is a leader? As I use the term here, the job of a leader is to accomplish transformation of his organization. He possesses knowledge; he himself has been transformed. He has personality and persuasive power. How may he accomplish transformation? First he has theory. He understands why the transformation would bring gain to his organization and to all the people that his organization deals with, the customers, suppliers, environment. Second, he feels compelled to accomplish the transformation as an obligation to himself and to his organization. Third, he is a practical man. He has a plan, step by step.
According to McKeon, atmospheric CO2 levels are way out of the normal variation limits relative to the last 2 million years. “And that has a lot of implications for how the planet is going to look, so knowledge of variation becomes very important,” he says. The SPC tie-in becomes clearer as the interview continues, “For me it wasn’t Deming to climate change; it was climate change to Deming,” says McKeon. “And seeing that graph and understanding about variation really brought it home for me. His knowledge and his way of framing things were very important for this.”
Aerojet-Rocketdyne has been running group discussions of Dr. Deming’s book by phone for years.
Beginning Monday, 4 November, 2013, and continuing from 3 – 5 pm Pacific time on the dates listed below, via phone we will be discussing The New Economics by W. Edwards Deming.
The Aerojet-Rocketdyne course visits another area along “An InThinking Roadmap” and is open to anyone, Aerojet-Rocketdyne employee or not. The purpose of this note is to let you know of the opportunity. You may “register” by sending a note to firstname.lastname@example.org on or before 28 October 2013 indicating your intention to participate in the series. Repeat participants in the series and first timers are equally welcome.
From the back cover of the Fourth printing of the 2nd Edition of The New Economics:
This book is for people in industry, government and education who are living under the tyranny of the prevailing style of management.
Learn about Deming’s System of Profound Knowledge – the knowledge needed for transformation to a new style of management. Understand how to create product and service to achieve sustainability, innovation and continually improving results. Explore the reasons to abolish performance reviews on the job and grades in schools. Discover why cooperation, not competition, is the engine of success. Find out how to develop pride in work and joy in learning.
About the series
We will read two chapters (or so) before each of six sessions then connect to share ideas about what we have read. We will conduct a seventh session relating what we may have learned to current events at work, at home, or in the news.
We hold these meetings at universities in order to introduce Dr. Deming’s teachings to young people. We have to work way upstream. It’s too late to only introduce this in the work setting.
I have attended a number of these meetings over the years since Dr. Deming passed away in 1993. I plan to go every year from now on. It’s essential to stay connected to others who were influenced by Dr. Deming and to keep learning and sharing with others. Here’s Clare Crawford-Mason and John (Jack) Hillerich. I’d met Clare before, but not Jack. We are good friends now, part of a fraternity of sorts. Clare is working on a new book, “The New Wisdom: How to Survive And Prosper In A Rapidly Changing, Increasingly Complex World”. She is soliciting personal transformation stories to be included in the book. If you have a story to share about how Dr. Deming and his stories affected you and your personal transformation, send this information to Clare at email@example.com.
Here’s Kevin Cahill grandson of Dr. Deming officially welcoming the attendees to the event. The topic is sustainability and the knowledge we need to assure sustainability has been available for years. Dr. Deming’s system of profound knowledge can help to guide our efforts. We just need to understand and use that knowledge.
Ian Bradbury provides an overview of Dr. Deming’a ideas. Many in the audience are not that familiar with his work, or are only just now hearing about his contributions to the world.
Sanden Corporation, Retail Systems (Japan) – previous Deming Prizes awards granted to Sanden in 1998, 2000, 2001 and 2006. And in 2007, Masayoshi Ushikubo, a Chairman, received the Deming Prize for Individuals
It may not seem surprising that more than half the winners are based in Japan, but this is actually a departure the results seen in recent years. Distribution of winning organizations since 2000 (including prizes for 2013)
Understanding the importance of learning is often one sign of the maturity of the improvement effort. As organizations have more success they realize that the reason for the success is not really tools but their ability to learn and adapt and continually improve. The tools are methods that often help the learning process.
It really amounts to this, if you know more about what it is you are doing then you can do it better and you can do it cheaper.
I think the quality revolution is nothing more, or less, than the dramatic expansion of the of scientific problem solving using informed observation and directed experimentation to find out more about the process, the product and the customer.
Improved results become the confirmation that what you thought you learned was applied effectively. If results don’t improve then go back and study if what you thought you learned was incorrect or was applied improperly.