2019 ASA Deming Lecture, Walking with Giants: A Research Odyssey

Guest post by John Hunter, author of Management Matters: Building Enterprise Capability.

Nicholas Fisher, University of Sydney, presents the 2019 ASA Deming Lecture – Walking with Giants: A Research Odyssey.

In the presentation, Nicholas shares his experience at a 4-day Deming seminar in Australia in 1991. Nicholas learned from Bill Conway, CEO of Nashua Corporation (who Deming quoted and worked with).

Nicholas continues to discuss his journey to improving management practices. He discusses the influence of management thinkers on his journey. Included in that list is Myron Tribus, who Nicholas worked with for many years and who he admired greatly.

From Myron, he gained insight into what measures could be useful to management. Nicholas shares these questions to guide decisions on how to measure:

What products of services are produced and for whom?

How will “quality”, or “excellence” of the product of service be assessed, and how can this be measured?

Which processes produce these products and services?

What has to be measured to forecast whether a satisfactory level of quality will be attained?

Nicholas makes clear that it is the answer to the second question, the value to the customer, that needs to be understood. Myron’s view stresses the importance of process indicators (which are leading indicators) to management, rather than relying on lagging indicators (such as what users tell you after they are using your product of service). You need to learn about the customers (and data you get from them are critical), but you also need to find process indicators you can use to monitor and manage processes to make sure you deliver to customers reliably (once you know what those customers want).

The presentation mentions many valuable ideas, including Customer Satisfaction is Not Enough and Purpose: To Benefit All Stakeholders.

Related: 2011 ASA Deming Lecture by Roger Hoerl, Need Any Country be Poor?2018 ASA Deming Lecture by Brent James: Long Term View of the Healthcare System2009 ASA Deming Lecture by J. Stuart Hunter (Princeton University), New Challenges for Statisticians

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