Peter Scholtes shared his thoughts on A Practical Approach to Change: Some Strategies and Tools at the 1991 Ohio Quality and Productivity Forum conference.
In this presentation, Peter gives an entertaining and useful look at the types of personal attitudes toward change (explorers, pioneers, etc.). In order to successfully adopt a change in an organization this model can help plan and evaluate the progress of the initiative.
I’ve often heard Peter emphasis the importance of focusing improvement efforts on important matters for the organization. Others feel that getting people familiar with the improvement process and gaining experience is worthwhile and therefore accept working on simple efforts without much benefit in order to get started. As Peter said in the presentation:
I’ve seen too many early improvement efforts aimed at things of no consequence. Take on your big business issues and show that Dr. Deming’s teachings are relevant to the major business needs.
Peter also talked about the importance of participative management but that what is required is far more than just creating systems to make sure there are strong lines of communication within the organization. People need to feel they are heard and for that to really lead to action, but that must be done within a management system that understands variation, systems thinking etc.. Read the rest of this entry »
The W. Edwards Deming Institute® offers events for those interested in applying Deming’s management ideas in their organizations. The calendar of events on our website shows the current planned events.
Our 2 1/2 day seminars are offered a couple times a year; the next one will be held next week.
Leading with a Systems View: Deming Management Method for Owners and Executives
10-12 April 2019
Tipp City, Ohio, USA
This seminar explores simple and powerful principles and is appropriate for anyone who manages people or who holds executive responsibility. Topic areas include the four elements of Deming’s System of Profound Knowledge (a.k.a. The Deming Management Method)
Dr. Deming said, “a bad system will beat a good person every time”. At this seminar you will learn to look at your organization through a new lens; a lens of how to make your system better – and thus get better results. You will gain new knowledge to remove barriers, increase efficiencies, reduce wasted time, boost motivation, and provide better insight into what’s really going on in your organization. And, you’ll discover how to measure what is (and is not) realistically possible for your organization to achieve.
The video interview covers several topics including: How to get the most out of Leading with a Systems View seminar.
This seminar explores simple and powerful principles and is appropriate for anyone who manages people or who holds executive responsibility. Topic areas include the four elements of Deming’s System of Profound Knowledge® (a.k.a. The Deming Management Method):
On April 16-18, 1999, The Deming Institute hosted its annual spring conference in Tacoma, Washington, featuring keynotes from Russell Ackoff, Jamshid Gharajedaghi, and Tom Johnson. I attended at the end of a family vacation, a mini-van roadtrip from our home in southern California, with earlier stops at Yosemite, the redwoods in northern California, and Portland. From Tacoma, we headed to our last stop, San Francisco, where the timing worked well for me to attend a second conference, “Teaching for Intelligence,” with Peter Senge, author of The Fifth Discipline, as the opening keynote speaker. The conference drew an audience of at least 500 in the auditorium with Peter, with several hundred more, including me, in an overflow room.
In this 80-minute lecture, which has recently been posted on YouTube, with Peter’s approval, by the Academy for Systems Change, he shared his reflections on ongoing efforts to transform education systems across the United States, offering an extensive series of parallels with his wide-ranging personal experiences with the visible and invisible obstacles facing business transformations.
Having attended the lecture and then re-experience it countless times since then, here are highlights of a most remarkable and timeless session which ends with Peter offering a tribute to Dr. Deming:
Peter spends most of his time working in businesses……trying to foster a degree of collaboration….trying to sustain deep and profound change….
Carl Rogers, “that which is most personal is most universal”
The system is out there….
What can we do…working against this massive thing called the system?
No one can ever show you the system…can you show it to me?
Feel the enormous forces pulling things back to where they used to be
There is a real simple notion of system which is kind of the cornerstone of what I’ve learned about the subject of systemic change…and that is when we say the word the system, what we really are talking about, although we usually do not know how to talk about it very rigorously, is a pattern of interdependency that we enact. There is no system. It’s purely an abstraction. But, there are patterns of interdependency and they are created every day, every hour, every minute, through our thinking and through our actions.
Reflections on my experiences in the past 25 years, primarily in the world of business
Perhaps there some interesting implications
Creation of a post-industrial theory and practice of education
20 to 25 years of efforts to transform the systemic nature of business operations…
Organizing around a few simple ideas…the world is a fragmented set of pieces…the drive to reinforce individualism…the “you” is an isolated individual.
Comments from Joseph, a South African worker, “they do not make me a person”
A human being, a “you,” only exists in relationships
The Zulu greeting, “hello,” meaning, “I see you”
Hard to know what fish talk about, but you can be damn sure it isn’t water. It’s the water we live in.
Edgar Schein, “Culture are the assumptions we cannot see”
Three legs of the stool – reflectiveness, aspiration, and understanding complexity
Dr. Deming used to have a very simple way of saying this…our prevailing system of management has destroyed our people
Dr. Deming, on “Quality Management” practices in education… “You have no idea that you are attempting to apply for the revitalization of America’s education system, the system of management which has destroyed American enterprise”
Quote from Dr. Deming on the back jacket of first printing of The Fifth Discipline; “Our prevailing system of management has destroyed our people. The destruction starts with toddlers. Gold stars. Grades in school. A prize for the best Halloween costume. The destruction continues on up through universities and into work, where people are ranked. Rewards for the one at the top, punishment for one at the bottom. Management by Objective, incentive pay, business plans cause further loss, unknown and unknowable.
Learned from Dr. Deming; school and work are the same institution
We have no clue about what it actually means to try to bring about truly systemic or deep or profound change
All of our efforts are on the surface
It’s a common experience, we all went to the same school
Did you know about learning before you went to school?
Dr. Deming, “human beings are born with intrinsic motivation and joy in learning”
The drive to learn, the most fundamental drive in the human species is the drive to learn
We come into the world engaged in learning
What did we learn about learning in school?
School is about performing for someone else’s approval
What did we learn as kids in school about answers?
How do we actually learn? By making mistakes.
We learn that learning is about getting right answers
Per Dr. Deming; the relationship between the student and the teacher is identically the same relationship as between the subordinate and the boss
Per Dr. Deming; nobody motivates anyone, except through fear
The prevailing system of management is not about learning, it’s about control; an industrial age notion of control; someone has to be in control
Most business corporations are basically pouring all the energy they can into sustaining, strengthening, tightening up, becoming yet more able to operate in the industrial mode…..and there are exceptions (VISA, Toyota, and Interface (Carpets) will be highlighted)
Within Toyota there are no standardized measures for cost control
Dr. Deming “Our system of organizing and managing in the industrial age has destroyed our people”
It has nothing to do with school. It has nothing to do with business. It has to do with a common set of assumptions and practices which are everywhere.
Why do companies reorganize so much?
Learners want to learn
No assessing, no learning
A tough challenge we face, but there’s some interesting stuff going on
The traditional system is us, it’s not them, it’s all the assumptions we’ve never examined
Why is it that industrial age systems have so much in common? Is it a big organized effort?
The machine age and the aspiration for uniformity
Schools patterned after an assembly line
People do not learn at the same speed
We substitute speed of reasoning for understanding
Might it not be that we are caught up in a myth, a kind of set of assumptions, a way of seeing the world, which has given great coherence and has been very successful? It’s only small problem is that it’s destroying our people and destroying our environment.
The measure is secondary to the learning
Creating measures and the phenomenon itself are two different features
David Bohm, “thought shapes reality”
The whole morning is a tribute to Deming
Enjoy it, again and again!
I have shared this video with countless seminar and workshop audiences, most often associated with introducing the Deming Philosophy. Once, with Tom Johnson in the room, with fellow seminar attendees only knowing him as Tom Johnson, not “the” Tom Johnson” as highly regarded by Peter in the video. According to one fellow co-worker, the ensuing remarks from Tom, author of Profit Beyond Measure, were “cosmic.” In other settings, I have also shared it with neighbors. For those who are aware of Dr. Deming’s Philosophy, this video can be immensely inspiring. I have seen it grab the attention of wide-ranging audiences, from individual contributors to senior executives, as the message is so powerful, including filled with hope. Don’t be surprised to witness the ending leaving a few in tears. Be prepared! However, as a note of caution, I have shared it with groups who are unaware of the Deming Philosophy, without offering any initial explanation of the Deming Philosophy. In such a setting, the message can be depressing, as it opens viewers to the prevailing system of management as it operates in schools. For such audiences, being exposed to the prospects of harshness within this system, as Peter does so well, this video may trigger a feeling of helplessness. Be prepared to share that there is great hope when leaders offer their guidance. Read about the efforts of educators in our blogs and podcasts to learn how they are working to transform education systems through the Deming Philosophy.
Mike Tveite shared his thoughts on The Role of Learning in Improving Organizations at the 1991 Ohio Quality and Productivity Forum conference.
As I’ve tried to pursue the PDSA cycle often what I get is, well some answers, but fundamentally I get a lot more questions.
The point Mike makes throughout his presentation, and I agree, is that when you use the PDSA cycle well that is what will happen; you will learn and find new questions to explore. The purpose of the PDSA cycle is to learn. There is also a purpose to test a new process to see if it can be adopted (the Act, or Adopt, stage of the PDSA cycle) to improve results of the organization. But if you had to prioritize the aims of the PDSA cycle the most important aim is to learn.
Mike also discusses the importance of adopting Deming’s System of Profound Knowledge in the work of executives and the larger systems within organizations. Dr. Deming discusses how applying his ideas on the common processes in our organizations (service processes, processes on the factory floor, etc.) amounts to perhaps 3% of the potential of using the System of Profound Knowledge within organizations. To gain 97% of the benefit the way our organizations are led and managed must be fundamentally adapted with this new understanding.
Still today we have made very little progress on that 97% of the potential. I do think we have improved on the 3% in the last 30 years (though there is still plenty left to do, even in this area). And while we have made some progress where 97% of the potential rests there is a huge amount that we still haven’t even started to think about working on in most organizations.
The new edition of The New Economics includes an introduction by Kevin Cahill (the Executive Director of The W. Edwards Deming Institute® and W. Edwards Deming’s grandson). This new 3rd Edition (published 25 years after the 1st edition) also includes a new chapter by Kelly Allan: “Why Deming? … Why Now More than Ever?”. A new edition of Out of the Crisis by W. Edwards Deming has also been published.
The chapters written by W. Edwards Deming remain as he wrote them so I won’t review any of that material in this post. You can use our Deming quotes website to view quotes from The New Economics.
Kelly Allan’s chapter shares experiences from organizations that have adopted Deming’s management ideas and offers guidance on how organizations can effectively use Deming’s ideas to improve.
The System of Profound Knowledge is a holistic system. Sure, you can improve aspects of your organization by picking the elements of the System of Profound Knowledge that appeal to you most. And doing so can be a good place to start. Yes, we encourage you – as soon as you can – to embark on the entire Deming Journey and avoid half-hearted efforts because they lead to less robust implementation – and thus less robust results.
Peter Scholtes shared his thoughts on Leading Quality: Some Practical Approaches to the Managers New Job at the 1992 Ohio Quality and Productivity Forum conference.
It is a little daunting to stand up here and speak to you about quality and know that before me Dr. Deming is up here and then later this afternoon we are going to be hearing from Dr. Kano. It is like I was up here talking about basketball and there is Magic Johnson and Michael Jordon it would be almost less intimidating than this. Everything I’ve learned about quality, just about everything maybe 95% of what I know about quality, is either from Dr. Deming or Dr. Kano or their students.
Peter starts the talk exploring myths about the practice of quality management.
Myth: managers of conventional American organizations care about customers, quality, employees, costs and profit.
As Dr. Deming says “nobody gives a hoot about profit“… and we sit it all the time. The rhetoric of quality has finally invaded the country, marketing people have certainly learned how to spell the word quality, but when we look at the day to day practices of quality there isn’t much indication, I’m afraid there isn’t much indication, that American business in general understands what quality is all about and understands how to lead and learn how to do it.
As usual, Peter does a great job of packing an incredible number of great thoughts into his talk. Definitely watch the full presentation, this post can only skim over a few ideas he explored during the talk.
The Fiero plant failed eventually, but not because of the lack of improvement, they knew how to improve, the failure of the Pontiac plant was at the leadership of General Motors. It takes more than improvement. As Dr. Deming points out, you can improve the process at the teller’s cage at the bank, but that won’t keep the bank from failing if they make poor loans.
Throughout the talk Peter emphasis the importance of viewing the organization as a system and using the knowledge from that view to inform how the organization is lead, managed and how people are able to work. With a systems view it is possible to appreciate how many individual factors interact to impact how successful an organization can be and how those factors interact with each other.
Essentially, our business model is founded on Deming’s chain reaction, which says, when you improve quality, costs go down, because of less rework and more efficiencies. When your costs go down, you can pass those savings on to the customer. The customer gives you more work. You capture more market share. You’re able to hire and keep the best people. You have the highest quality at the lowest cost and your customers love you.
When they started their efforts
At New York Label, this meant removing sales quotas and performance reviews, eradicating “command and control” management practices, promoting teamwork and collaboration, practicing systems thinking, and tying sales and growth directly to improving quality.
They made good progress but as many such efforts do they struggled to make continued progress. They reached a level which was improved but continuing to improve from that new level proved to be challenging. As Steven said:
We were able to integrate Deming’s philosophy into the culture of the company, and had a pretty good grasp of certain concepts, like common cause and special cause variations. But I now realize this was really just the low hanging fruit…We weren’t able to see the importance of all the components and their relationship within the system, including outside suppliers and customers.
An employee next to label printing machines at NY Label and Box.
By working with a consultant, Kelly Allan, they were able to bring in outside knowledge and achieve new gains and sustain a continually improvement management system. They have continued to work with Kelly for over 10 years now. Kelly and Steven discussed their efforts in a Deming podcast that I wrote about previously: The Deming Journey at New York Label & Box Works.
The full article includes Steven’s 6 points of advice for successfully managing your organization using Deming’s ideas.
In this first episode, Ed and I share our interpretations of Continuous Improvement and Continual Improvement and why we believe Dr. Deming preferred the latter term. Also, we offer a reminder of the limitations of a focus on defects, rather than both good and bad process outputs, when striving for continual improvement.
Bill: While I know Dr. Deming favored continual improvement over continuous improvement, I would appreciate your explanation of the difference Dr. Deming was trying to convey.
Ed: Continual improvement implies that change is a step function. There is a measurable or observable change of state and the transformed state exists until the next change of state, like water transformed from a solid frozen state to a liquid to a gas. Continuous improvement (i.e. change) has no observable or measurable plateaus.
Bill: I like the idea of comparing step changes to plateaus. My explanation of continual improvement is the ability to find a leverage point in the system, where I could invest resources somewhere in the system to achieve a far greater gain somewhere else. The effort is not constrained with a focus on what is not meeting requirements, but rather where best to invest resources, including time, money, thought, etc. Once completed, I stop and then look for the next such situation. I have likened this to asking where does a stitch in time save 7, perhaps, wherever one sees a greater return than the investment. Next up, perhaps asking where does a stitch in time save 5. And so on. Each change begins and ends. I would then offer continuous improvement as an effort to improve a given process, ad Infinitum, which could easily lead to improvement well below the point of the return being great than the investment. This is what I think of as improvement for improvements sake.
Are these explanations of continual improvement and continuous improvement in keeping with your interpretation of Dr. Deming’s explanations of both?
Ed: Yours is also a helpful perspective about the concepts. You have offered a practical definition of the words. I think that Dr. Deming would have liked it because it kind of resembles his views on the need to consider practical significance when evaluating the importance of any statistical test results. However, I do like the idea of plateaus since improvement is a learning process.
Bill: Given this appreciation of continual vs. continuous improvement, how would you explain the weaknesses of an improvement strategy which focuses on eliminating defects? That is, one which is problem focused. What comes to mind is a classic adage from Russ Ackoff that “getting rid of what we don’t want might not get us what we want.”
Ed: Dr. Deming provided many examples of how failure to think from a whole system view leads to incomplete information and wrong conclusions. He described a situation he saw in a plant that manufactures tires. The engineers studied only the defective tires to determine the causes of defects. They also should have studied the non-defective tires in order to understand the functioning of the system as a whole. Without profound knowledge, in this case theory of variation and appreciation for a system, how could they know the source of the defective tires?
Bill: We are often asked for examples of how to apply Dr. Deming’s philosophy more broadly. How might we look at the broader implications of not focusing on defects?
Ed: This type of thinking, to look beyond defects, has broad application that we can apply every day in our lives. You might have this experience in a restaurant. You ask the server what the chef’s special is. The server tells you, and you say that doesn’t appeal to you. Then you list other things that you don’t like, including seasoning and methods of cooking. Of course, the server still doesn’t know what to do because you haven’t explained what you do like. If you give the server an idea of what you do like as well as what you don’t like, that is, you provide a sample from your whole-system of preferences, it will increase the chance that you will get what you like and will be a satisfied customer. This highlights a weakness of defining quality only as the absence of defects and the limitations of zero-defects programs that don’t define what does satisfy the customer. Eliminating defects can’t help customers if the product or service does not meet their requirements. (See Symphony of Profound Knowledge, pp. 18-19)
A recent paper by Ron Snee and Roger Hoerl, “Show Me the Pedigree,” (Quality Progress, January 2019, pp. 16-23) highlights the critical importance of knowing the origin and history of data, including the sampling method, before any meaningful analysis can be conducted and valid conclusions can be drawn. The failure to do so can have tragic results. They cite the disaster of the Challenger space shuttle due in large part to faulty analysis of the relationship between temperature and O-ring failures. The analysis did not include data for which there were no O-ring failures, which, if included would have informed NASA that launching at abnormally low temperatures would be very dangerous.
In other words, data from the whole system were not evaluated.
This webcast shows Balaji Reddie’s presentation, Why Deming? Why Now? Why India?, given at the 25th Annual W. Edwards Deming Institute Conference in 2018.
A powerful point Balaji Reddie made during the presentation was that you learn about Deming’s ideas by applying them. Just reading is not enough, you must apply the ideas and learn from that experience.
By applying Deming’s ideas and practicing introspection (studying and thinking about what you see happening) you gain an appreciation for the interaction between the parts of the management system while you learn to view the organization as a system.
Balaji Reddie went on to discuss his belief that India is ready and needs to take an Deming approach to improvement country-wide. That takes long term thinking and considering the large scale systems within the country and creating, implementing and adjusting system improvements with an understanding of Deming’s ideas.
Guest post by Mustafa Shraim, ASQ Fellow and Assistant Professor, Department of Engineering Technology and Management, Ohio University
“Variation is life or life is variation” is how Dr. Deming described the extent of what we observe in our personal and work outcomes. If the outcome can be measured, like the commute time to work or school, one can easily show fluctuation from one day to the next. The variation observed may be attributed to controllable factors, such as departure time, as well as those beyond one’s control, such as weather and traffic conditions. If the commute time averages 20 minutes, it may take 23 or so minutes when traffic is dense or 18 minutes when weather conditions are favorable.
So variation is expected! – how we react to it is what’s important!
Shewhart determined that there are two types of mistakes that can be committed1. These come from the misclassification of the types of variation:
Mistake 1: Reacting to an outcome as if it came from a special-cause variation when it really came from common causes
Mistake 2: Treating an outcome as if it came from common causes of variation when actually it came from a special cause
The first mistake is called tampering. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines tampering as “interfering so as to weaken or change for the worse”. Dr. Deming demonstrated the impact of tampering using his well-known funnel experiment. Examples of tampering abound; from continuously adjusting machine parameters in order to produce an acceptable product to reaction of Wall Street to news or even reacting to rumors1, this phenomenon can be observed in production processes as well as management processes. It is the wrong reaction to the type of variation observed!
I recently published and presented a paper on a tampering experiment at the 2018 American Society for Engineering Education conference, where volunteers in an educational setting performed an experiment. In this experiment, we asked a team of students to run a catapult (process) without prior knowledge about any learning outcomes. The aim of the experiment was to introduce the concept of tampering to engineering students at the undergraduate level.
As is the case for any process, the catapult has controllable factors that can be set to increase or decrease the distance reached. There can also be some variability coming from noise such as slight movements while launching, inspector’s position when reading the distance, among others. To summarize, the experiment involved three scenarios:
(1) Run the process as is – no adjustments allowed
(2) Hit the target distance (80 inches) – make adjustments as needed.
(3) Run the process as is – but after collaborating as a team and making simple improvements.
The results were not surprising, and confirming the funnel experiment. The distance was plotted on an individual and moving range (I&MR) control chart below with three stages (scenarios).
*Note that the out-of-control point in scenario (1) was identified as a slip of hand when launching the catapult and was not removed to show how such conditions can be detected by a control chart.
As shown on the control chart above, Scenario (2), where the volunteers made what they felt as the necessary adjustments to hit the target value, had the most variation. It should be mentioned here that scenario (2) is like Rule 2 of Deming’s funnel experiment.
Scenario (3) on the other hand, represents a proper way of improving the process – after working on the system – not reacting to each point. In this scenario, the team made sure that the catapult was not moving while launching and the method of holding and launching was the same – which shows a significant decrease in variation.
The question that might be raised is: why would we tamper if the process is stable (in control)? Here is a quote from Dr. Deming in The New Economics, 3rd Edition, page 139 on this:
“A process may be stable, yet turn out faulty items and mistakes. To take action on the process in response to production of a faulty item or a mistake is to tamper with the process. The result of tampering is only to increase in the future the production of faulty items and mistakes, and to increase costs – exactly the opposite of what we wish to accomplish.”