The W. Edwards Deming Institute Blog

Tom Rudmik: Thriving in the World of Massive Change

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Guest post by John Hunter.

This webcast shows Tom Rudmik’s presentation, Thriving in the World of Massive Change, at the 2012 Annual Deming Conference. Tom is CEO of Master’s Academy and College.

This is an interesting presentation that includes a look at an array of current scientific breakthroughs. The early part is reminiscent to talks I heard from Joel Barker a few decades ago – sharing their look at scientific discoveries, the innovations being brought to market and how we must change how to think and build systems with an understanding of where the world is heading toward.

As Walter Gretzky, Wayne’s father, said: “Go to where the puck is going, not where it has been.”

Like Joel Barker, Tom stresses the importance of making a significant effort to understand the innovation around us and plan for a future using the understanding of where we are heading.*

The existing assembly-line approach to education exists because it’s the only way we knew how to manage large groups of students back in the early 1900s. The world has changed and we need a totally new system of education. No amount of tweaking the industrial age assembly-line system will produce the kind of results that are needed in this 21st century that we live in today.

Most reform attempts, such as “no child left behind,” have focused on treating the symptoms of the system and not the real problem. The problem can only be understood when you have a vision for a brand new system.

For 25 years we have been developing profound learning in thousands of schools and over the years a new model of education has emerged where the vast majority of students can attain academic excellence.

The presentation discusses how to use the vision of the desired-state of the system to drive a transformation to the new system. He doesn’t mention Ackoff’s ideas on idealized design but he seems to be talking about to a transformation based on similar ideas.

Related: Fixing Education: A Model That Works by Bette MoenThe Neuroscience of DemingA Powerful Learning Tool: The Capacity MatrixThe Amazing Reality of Genes, Epigenetics and The History of Scientific InquiryDeming’s Stage 0: By What Method?


* Some may worry this amounts to making decisions based on predictions, which would then be brittle if the predictions are wrong. I think this is not the case. Paying attention to innovation quickly should convince anyone with an understanding of systems thinking that the exact impact of innovations are extremely difficult to predict. One needs to understand that relying on things staying the same is equally risky (actually, it is likely riskier to do so).

In planning for the future one needs to understand how brittle certain assumptions are and how to create systems that will be robust in the face of rapid change. In a future of rapid change in many significant areas systems must be able to cope with rapid change (in the marketplace, in technology, in the workforce, in the economy at large…). Rather than designing solutions based on precise predictions of what the future will hold, solutions should be designed with an understanding of a future where rapid change could take many forms.


Categorised as: education, video


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