The W. Edwards Deming Institute Blog

When We Understand Our Work and We are Given the Ability to Improve It – We Will

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Guest post by John Hunter

Jim Benson’s presentation at our 2015 International Deming Research Seminar explored how to manage the workload better to improve results.

We want to help people become happy so that they will build better products. We fundamentally believe that happy people do exactly that.

Companies that understand this important idea have a big advantage over those that retain a theory x management system that they believe is needed to control people.

When we understand our work and we are given the ability to improve it – we will. We don’t have to be told to, we just do it. Thats a fundamental human action – to improve the environment that is around you. It is alien to us to allow ourselves to live in substandard conditions.

People that working aren’t doing that naturally, why not? At the moment they need some reassurance. Years of top down, Taylorist-style management has given us bit of learned helplessness. We’ve tried to help in the past; we’ve been kicked in the head. We said “I am not going to do that again.”

People need some reassurance that their work isn’t in vein.

I agree, as I have discussed previously: People Take Time to Believe Claims of Changed Management Practices. A failure to appreciate that it takes time for people to unlearn the distrust that most people have gained for management throughout their career is a big part of the reason management improvement efforts fail.

A few pioneers will take the leap and accept a management system that claims to offer the prospect of them taking pride in their work again. But it is going to take a long time to persuade many others to believe the promises. Be patient, retain constancy of purpose and nurture the belief that this time really is different. Transforming the management system and people’s belief in it provides great rewards to those organizations that persevere.

In the talk Jim provided examples of the value of making work visible and limiting work in progress. Those two simple (though not as simple to do as to say) ideas are the core of his consulting efforts.

Related: There is No Instant Pudding, You have to Show Up to Disrupt (Jim Benson)Podcast with Jim Benson on Applying Deming’s Ideas to Knowledge WorkRespect People by Creating a Climate for Joy in WorkHow To Create a Continual Improvement Culture


Categorised as: psychology, respect for people, systems thinking, video


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