Feb 10, 2023
In this new series on applying Deming to education, Andrew talks with John Dues, Chief Learning Officer at United Schools Network and long-time Deming practitioner. This is the first in a series of 12 episodes using John's school system as a case study for applying Deming in education. 0:00:02.3 Andrew Stotz: My name is Andrew Stotz, and I'll be your host as we continue our journey into the teachings of Dr. W. Edwards Deming. Today, I'm here with featured guest, John Dues. John, are you ready to share your Deming journey? 0:00:17.7 John Dues: Yeah, Andrew I'm really glad to be here and looking forward to speaking with you today. 0:00:22.6 AS: Yeah, we've been talking about this for a while, and so it's exciting to kick it off. So let me introduce you to the audience. Ladies and gentlemen, John A. Dues is an accomplished education systems leader and Improvement Science scholar practitioner with more than two decades of experience. He is the Chief Learning Officer of the United Schools Network, where he directs the network's continual improvement fellowship and serves as an Improvement Advisor. He draws heavily on the work of Dr. W. Edwards Deming and his System of Profound Knowledge. He's currently continuing his education through the Improvement Advisor program at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement in Boston, Massachusetts. John, can you take a little bit and tell us about the story about how you first learned about the teachings of Dr. W. Edwards Deming and what hooked you? 0:01:21.8 JD: Yeah, happy to do that. I sort of, I'm about 20 years into my career as an educator, and I sort of think about my career across four stages or so. Stage zero, I was a teacher, I didn't really know anything about classroom management or how to lead a class, it was a lot of trial and error type learning, and then I start to figure stuff out over time and stage one, I transitioned into now working at a series of Public Charter Schools is on the founding team of seven schools or non-profits sort of than this next stage. And I think a lot of my learning was sort of what I would call subject matter learning, so cognitive science, curriculum and lesson planning, how to use data to drive instruction, those types of things, and then about 2016 or so, I started learning about improvement science. I got an e-mail, it mentioned a book called Learning to Improve, and that got me sort of started on this path to learning the tools of improvement science, and I did that for four or five years, and then in about a couple of years ago, I stumbled across the W. Edwards Deming Institute website. 0:02:53.0 JD: And I had previously come to the website a couple of years earlier, and truth be told, I went to the System of Profound Knowledge page, it didn't make a lot of sense to me, and so I sort of let it lay for a year or two, and I came back to it in 2020, and not that all of a sudden it made sense. But there was something there that sparked this interest that's been going on for three years now, where I've devoured books, listened to interviews, and really gone on this journey to learn exactly what Dr. Deming was talking about with the System of Profound Knowledge. 0:03:36.5 AS: And when you think about the improvements that you're trying to do, or the problems that you were trying to solve, and then you started to see, let's say the System of Profound Knowledge, what was it that stood out as, Oh, that explains why this is happening, that explains why... What were some of those revelations and things that you could then bring back to your work... I'm just curious. How did that unfold? 0:04:06.2 JD: Yeah, it took some time. I mentioned sort of discovering the Institute website in about 2018 or so, and it not initially making a lot of sense, there's probably two things. One, candidly, I saw a System of Profound Knowledge, and I was like, Well, who talks like that? What is that... Like who calls their stuff profound knowledge? And then the second thing was when I looked over the four components, systems theory and the theory of variation and the theory of knowledge and psychology, frankly, most of it was incomprehensive to me, and a couple of years later, I come back, I'm a little further in this learning journey, and I go back to it, not that I had any type of instant revelation or anything like that, it has taken a lot of deep study, it did start to slowly make sense and what I realized... In one of the books I was reading is sort of this idea that there's these two complementary types of knowledge, one is subject matter knowledge, so in my case, it's those things I mentioned, knowing how to plan lessons, knowing how to do classroom management, the things that an educator that needs to know how to do. 0:05:28.3 JD: And then there was this whole other bucket of knowledge, which I realized when Deming said System of Profound Knowledge he meant the components interact, that's the system part. And then the profound part is just that you have a deep knowledge about your organization across those four components, and I realize there's this whole other sort of bucket of knowledge that we're not attending to, that tells us some of the most important information we need to know about our organizations, and it's only when you bring those two things together, the subject matter knowledge with the profound knowledge that you actually then can transform your organizations. And so that realization along the way was a big part of me sort of latching on to Dr. Deming's philosophy. And I'd say the second thing that I did very early on, besides reading the books and listening to a lot of the Deming Institute's podcast interviews was I started talking to people that appeared on those interviews, and so I reached out to Kelly Allan and then he turned me on to David Langford, who's probably the guy doing Deming in Education and started relationships with both of them, and they were very, very generous with their time and expertise, and that really allowed me to clarify my thinking now because I have this expert in Deming philosophy helping to guide me answer questions, and sort of that rounded out some of the knowledge I was doing in my self-study. 0:07:02.4 AS: Which I guess accelerates things. In my age when I was young, I sat into two seminars with Dr. Deming teaching and yeah. Okay, that answers a lot of questions, but we don't have that luxury anymore, so it's gotta be number one, reading the materials, watching the videos and all that, but also checking our understanding. And I know both Kelly and David are great resources. Kelly helped me when I was writing my book, Transform Your Business with Dr. Deming's 14 Points to help me think about things, and I know there's even more, so much more to learn, and I think that's where... What I think about the profound knowledge aspect, and I think what you said was, there's kind of... You have to have these two components. And its subject matter aspect, that's just a given when you're teaching and understanding how to teach, but then this whole other thing about the system aspect of it, the psychology aspect of that. 0:08:09.0 AS: And I have a question for you about education, let's say I graduated from high school, from a pretty good public high school in Ohio, and I'm just curious, if we went back to that school today, and I spent... I don't know what it was, seven hours a day at school, arrive at 8:00 and leave at 3:00 or whatever that was. I spent X amount of time at school and I accumulated X amount of knowledge during that time, and my question to you is, if we go now from 1983 when I graduated to here we are 50 years later, or so or 40... 50 years later, so now we're... Here we are in the future with so much knowledge, so much experience, our students are attending high school for either the same time and accumulating much more knowledge, or are they attending school for a much shorter time and accumulating the same amount of knowledge, or are we doing the same thing? 0:09:28.3 JD: Yeah, that's a really good question. I think there's sort of a relevant Deming quote that's something to the effect of "experience teaches nothing" and it's, basically it was saying, you have to have an underlying theory and then you build the knowledge and testing that theory and see how it works in the real world. So in a lot of respects, I think in the 40 years or so since you were in high school, probably a lot of schools haven't changed much, they do the same thing year in and year out, they're not really learning, they're... Like I said, across that 40-year time period, it's just sort of a repetition. Now, of course, if you went into that high school, there would be differences like the type of technology you'd see in classrooms. I think by and large, when you're talking about school, effectiveness people will argue about this, I think depending on how you're measuring that outcome, I think that schools are, generally speaking, better maybe than they were 40 years ago. Now, the problem is that better typically means that test scores are better, and of course, there's variation in this in both time and place and the variation, I don't think it's linear. 0:10:58.1 JD: I think there are ups and downs in different places based on a whole host of factors like the pandemic or even... There's less spending in schools out of the 2008 hiring crisis... Oh sorry, housing crisis, and those had an impact on things like test scores, but I think with Deming, and he was very interested obviously in education, he was a professor for 50 years, as you know at New York University. The subtitle of his last book had education in the subtitle. What he was really talking about when he was thinking about talking about education was transformation, and that was a complete change in state. And so when I hear your question, that's what I think of... I think of have schools, if they know the Deming philosophy, have they undergone a transformation following Deming's teachings, and I would say by and large, the answer to that question, not withstanding the sort of test score question, the answer to the transformation question is no. I think by and large, that's not what I've seen across my career. 0:12:11.6 AS: And if we think about a person listening into this conversation who's an educator and they're looking for new answers to maybe old problems. [chuckle] And they come across this podcast, they come across the material like you did, what's the hope that you can provide to them about how they could benefit either individually by thinking about and learning about Dr. Deming's teachings for their performance as a... Maybe as a teacher or as an administrator, and what hope or excitement can you provide them if they're an administrator of a school thinking, "Hmm, this is interesting, maybe this could provide me some things that I need to start to think differently about it." Tell me a little bit about the journey of you then learning about Deming and then start to... Bringing it into your institution. 0:13:11.2 JD: Yeah, there's a few things that I think of. So one thing is, if I've discovered the Deming philosophy and I'm an educator, how do I bring that to my school, or how do I bring that to my classroom or if I"m a systems leader, how do I bring that to my school district? And I think one of the things that I learned from David is you preach to the masses and work with the willing, and so thinking about intrinsic motivation, which I know David has talked about on your podcast, is you want people to opt in to going on this sort of learning journey with you, so that's one thing I think of. 0:13:50.8 JD: The second thing I think of is, and this was from David as well, when he started doing the Deming philosophy in his classroom and using the System of Profound Knowledge, he was a classroom teacher. And so everybody has this circle of influence, this circle that they have control over, and in his case, he didn't have control over the school building, the high school where he was... He didn't have control over the school district at the time, but he did have control over his classroom, and it was basically through applying the Deming ideas in his classroom that people started coming and saying, "Hey, what are you doing in here? There's something very different that's going on here," and then the principal got so interested in it, he said, "I'd like you to sort of teach people how to do this building-wide," and he became the director of continuous improvement there at his high school in Alaska. 0:14:42.6 JD: And then ultimately, he was encouraged by Deming to go off and consult across the world to bring these ideas to schools all over the world. So I think that's another thing that I think of. I also think that in some sort of ways, you can learn aspects of the Deming philosophy and start to apply them tomorrow. So when I think about something like knowledge about variation, I may know nothing about the technical aspects of a control chart, for example, but what I can do is I can take any data that I have that occurs across time and just plot those dots on a simple line chart and start to understand what that data looks like versus having those numbers in a spreadsheet, and then there's other aspects that do take time. 0:15:34.1 JD: I think one thing that Deming said in one of his books was, there's no instant pudding, and basically he meant that when it comes to organizational transformation, you're talking about a four or five or even 10-year journey and beyond to get this to take root in an organization. At the same time, it doesn't take 1000 people. And I heard David talk about this, and I heard Deming talk about this idea of you need to capture and educate and bring along about the square root of the number of people in your organization that really have a strong grasp of the System of Profound Knowledge and so if you're in a roughly 100-person organization, like mine I need 10 people that have learned these ideas and are interested in spreading them to their classroom or to their school, or in our case, into the network as a whole. 0:16:32.2 AS: And how did it go finding those people, and as you say, it's voluntary, you want those people to come, you wanna attract them, attraction rather than promotion. How did that journey go for you internally? 0:16:43.9 JD: Well, it's definitely ongoing. It's definitely ongoing, and I think it's going really well, it's a process, we're probably about two years into that process, and so in some ways it's now a core part of who we are. So a good example of that is going back to this idea of knowledge about variation two years ago, none of us had any knowledge of what a control chart or a process behavior chart was, and now we have dashboards that are shared system-wide on all kinds of measures that are important to us, where we're now looking at data over time and realizing that until we sort of understand the patterns that we see in that data, we don't really know anything about whatever that area is. So that's something that's taken hold and we've spread it pretty quickly across the network. Before we would say we overreact to maybe like a single test score or attendance is down this month. Now we step back and say, "Okay, what does that look like over 12 months, for 15 or 20 months? What are the patterns? Is it sort of a common cause, is it just a part of our system, or is there a signal here that we need to pay attention to." 0:18:01.4 JD: So in many aspects like that it's taken hold and in other aspects, it does take longer to implement and that... A good example there is, Deming said abolish grades, and he was pretty unequivocal about that he didn't good grades in his graduate statistical courses at NYU. That's a much harder thing to change, it's a much harder thing to get people to understand why he said that, even for myself to learn sort of... Why did he say that? Is it feasible? What's the replacement? Those all have... There's practical considerations when you're in a school system, you have to give grades, you have to have report cards, or you think you do anyway, and so things like that take time, and we're not there yet on some of Deming's ideas, like abolishing grades or changing our grading practices. 0:19:01.4 AS: It's interesting, one of the beautiful things about having a private company is that you can implement these things without kind of... I don't know, kind of regulatory oversight or that type of stuff. You just can implement it, and so there's an enormous constraint in that field. Now, let me ask you about the charts that you talk about. I wanna ask two questions. First question is, from your experience of having, looking at different charts related to education, if someone's listening to this, that it is working in a school or a classroom or whatever, they're looking at it, what would be one chart that you think that they could start on today and implement? And that's the first question I have, and the second one is about how do you prevent people from obsessing about the data in a chart and help them understand that this is about understanding a system, it's not obsessing about some KPI type of thing. So, curious what you would say to that. What would be a chart that someone could start with? 0:20:13.8 JD: That's a really good question. I have a lot of different ideas. One thing because it's so prevalent in our education system it's pretty much across the United States, is state test scores. Now in some of the aspects or... Yeah, I mean in some aspects, it's not the best thing to put in a chart because they typically only happen one time a year towards the end of the year. So it's hard to gather enough data to sort of use in practice on a day-to-day basis. On the flip side, I do think it's helpful to put something like state test scores, even though they only happen on an annual basis in a control chart or a process behavior chart, because I think people forget, frankly, they forget what happened just a couple of years ago in their system when it comes to state test scores. And so you see all these documents created all the way from State Departments of Education to individual schools that are marketing to parents in their area that basically are writing fiction about their test scores. "We improved from last year." Well, yeah, technically, maybe it went up 2%, but then it's down 5% from two years ago. And so I think plotting the dots to your test score data over 12 or 15 years gives a sense of how the data is bouncing around in average probably. 0:21:41.8 AS: Okay. 0:21:43.0 JD: And not in a meaningful way. I think in most circumstances. And I think allowing them to see those patterns is really important. And I think another sort of helpful layer to that is annotate that chart with things that have happened in either your school, your district, or even at a state policy level. Label when the test format changed. Label when the state standards change. Label the year that what kids needed to do to be you considered proficient, the cut score for the proficiency, label when that changed, 'cause these are all things that have happened in the last five or six years in most states, including Ohio where I am. And when you start to label those things and then you see the ups and downs that are associated with those labels, you start to say, "Oh, this picture of what's been happening in my system makes a lot more sense." And most of that is completely sort of out of the picture for most people. We don't really remember what happened three or four years ago, even if we have a general idea, we don't have it pinpointed to a specific year. When do we start testing on computers instead of paper and pencil? That's another example. Those all have impacts on tests scores. 0:23:01.2 AS: Okay. That's a great one for the administrators, but if you were in a classroom and you say, "I don't really have control over what goes on in my school so much, but I do enjoy this Deming journey, and I want to start to bring some of that into my classroom," what would be one chart that you would make? 0:23:23.1 JD: A couple of ideas that come to mind, maybe two, I'd share with you. One would be something like homework completion. What percent of the kids are doing either in class or it doesn't have to be homework, it would be in-class assignments? And I think the key here is, one, you have to operationally define what completion means. And that can vary by a classroom as long as everybody's on the same page. And then with that, put it up on the wall, on a piece of chart paper, because so often the things that we want kids to improve are hidden from them. They don't... Oh, I didn't know that 35% of the kids in this class didn't do the assignment from the day before right, but if they start to see that, and then we start to talk about it, and then we start to say, "Well, what are the barriers or obstacles to completion?" 0:24:13.9 JD: And then kids start to say, "Well, how can I help you?" You start to create this completely different mentality in your classroom. One classroom also that we had in our network of schools, it was a fourth grade Science teacher, she started tracking how much joy did you find in today's lesson? And so she would actually... The kids would do a short little survey and assign a number out of 100%. And then they would also have us. There was a spot in the survey to say, "What did you like about it, what didn't go so well? Or whatever, what could I improve?" This is the teacher saying that to fourth graders and they're charting that on a piece of paper. And then she's starting to learn, "Okay. These types of lessons are engaging, these types of lessons are not so engaging. The kids want more of this, enjoyment goes up when we do this as a class." And then they did that over the course of three or four months, and slowly over time, you see the engagement levels, the joy raising, kids are happier. They're more engaged in class. The teacher is having more fun. And so those are just sort of two things that I've seen done in our network of schools that I think had a really positive impact. 0:25:33.9 AS: That's exciting. And I think it goes back to the intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation. And ultimately kids wanna be engaged, everybody wants to be engaged in what they're going through. And the reason why they disengage oftentimes, is because we don't involve them. 0:25:55.9 JD: Right. Yeah, I agree, 100%. I think kids are really... Students and schools are the improvement secret weapon. I think a mindset shift for me was when you think about in your system, who is the worker? And a lot of educators think when you ask them that question, they'll say, "Well, teachers." And not that there's a right or wrong answer to this, but I think it's actually the students, because the thing that has to be created, high quality learning has to happen in their minds. So if they're the ones where the work has to happen, they have to be the workers. So I think of students as the workers and I think more of the teachers as the supervisors of that work. 0:26:43.6 AS: That's a great way to think about it, because it also kind of pushes it down for the teachers to think that their objective is really creating that environment for learning. I wonder when you started bringing the Deming philosophy into schools and your operations there, was there one point that was like there was resistance to or what do you think is the hardest to digest for teachers or a school system when they're looking at this? 0:27:21.6 JD: That's a really good question. I think in my own sort of personal opinion, I think that a lot of the Deming philosophy is paradoxical to typical management practices. And I think there's a lot of counterintuitive ideas in the philosophy. So I think you have to sort of be open to that from the start. And so when I first started talking with people about these ideas, I did it, both internally and with some people externally, and I just put together a presentation, I said, "I'm gonna show you this thing and I wanna collect your thoughts." And one of the first things I said is, "Before I say anything, I want you to have in your mind preemptively that you're gonna experience some serious cognitive dissonance with these ideas because they're so different than what you've heard before." So I did that as a primer, so people sort of had that expectation. I think, generally, what I find from folks is openness to the ideas. I think there's a challenge in unpacking, going back to something like I was talking about abolish grades. Unpacking why exactly did he say what he said? Whether it's abolish grades or any number of other points that he made. 0:28:52.4 JD: I think there's this sort of realization for a lot of people that when you say, "Well, what's your philosophy, or what's your educational philosophy, what's your management philosophy?" They don't really have an answer. I didn't have an answer, frankly, before I started studying this stuff. And that's a little bit convicting. And then once you decide to go on the journey, you realize, "Why do we do the things that we do?" You could ask that about a thousand things a day, whether it's a policy, a practice, just something we do, 'cause that's the way we've always done it here. And again, it's a little daunting when you start to think about, "Well, what is the underlying reason that we do this?" And so... 0:29:40.3 AS: It kind of shakes the foundation of your thinking. 0:29:43.1 JD: Yeah. It shakes the foundation, so you have to be open to that. And I think that's where the, "No instant pudding," quote from Deming comes in, is that you really have to be committed to this. And I think about a story I read in a book, Henry Neave's book, The Deming Dimension, where he basically says, "A Board engineer, a quality control guy comes to a Deming seminar one week, a four-day seminar, goes back the following week and he read the 14 Points. And one of them's about inspection and not relying or overlying on inspection. And he went the next week and fired all the inspectors in his plant." I think it was a Ford Plant. 0:30:32.7 JD: And basically, Henry Neave says, "That's not the right approach. You have to understand why you're doing what you're doing first before you do it." And you have to remember that that thing, in this case, it's inspection is a part of your system, so you can't remove it before you understand why you're doing that and what you're gonna replace it with. And that should probably happen deliberately and probably over time and not the next Monday after you've heard this idea. So it's a little of both. It's how do you start moving the needle and then how do you do it thoughtfully with an underlying understanding of the theory under all of these ideas? 0:31:13.7 AS: Another question is, if we think about the... Really, you have to, if you're bringing the Deming philosophy into a school as an example, you have to kind of convince administrators and you have to kind of... Let's say educate administrators, you gotta educate the teachers, and also there's the kids. And I'm curious, what are the things that teachers really get from the Deming like, "Okay, that makes sense." And let's strip away some of the complexity sometimes in the way that it's presented, but let's just take some of the basic principles, what are some of the things that the kids would naturally get like that makes sense to them? I'm just curious what your observations have been there. 0:32:01.8 JD: That's a really good question. How would I answer that? I think I'd start with myself first. I think because Deming talked about an individual transformation has to happen as a precursor to a larger organizational transformation. And so for me, it was starting to take many of the ideas I was reading and then think about the application in my own life, maybe as a student myself. And as I did that and I thought through those things, I never came up against something that didn't make sense to me. I think the trick is, especially for adults, is that I think in a lot of ways, a lot of people would latch on to the ideas for themselves, but this won't work for... Other people need something different. [laughter] 0:33:06.1 JD: I think that's... A good example of it is like performance appraisals. They've never been effective for me. I never have gotten great feedback from them, or I've felt they're unfair, or I got rated on my use of technology in my classroom early in my career, but there were no working computers, but everybody else needs a performance appraisal. So you come across a lot of stuff like that I think what you have to say, "Yep, that works for me in my life." And we have to take that same lesson and apply it to others, that's one thing I think about. It wasn't the exact question you asked, but that's one thing I think about. I actually find... There's things to learn in terms of teachers, but I actually think a lot of teachers sort of have a natural inclination for the general Deming perspective, Deming philosophy. I think things like grading, I think teachers would latch on to Deming's idea of abolishing grading, I think actually much faster than maybe the administrators would in a lot of ways. 0:34:13.3 AS: I think that would be a hard one for them. I remember when I went to my first Deming seminar and I was a young supervisor at a Pepsi factory in the US. And I appreciate that Pepsi put me into those seminars 'cause it really helped me, and I think I brought back stuff to the Pepsi factory in Torrance, California. But the one thing that really struck a cord with me is I didn't realize I was operating within a system. I saw individual efforts of myself and others and everybody running around trying to get things done, but I didn't see that the limitation on the output of our activity was, to a large extent, determined by the system within which we were operating. If we didn't have the resources, if we had an accounting department that was just trying to cut cost, and so we couldn't get the replacement parts for the machinery. I totally understood that once I studied Deming and learned about that. And so that's why I'm kind of thinking about what makes sense to teachers. 0:35:27.8 AS: So let's talk about kids for a moment. I think about joy in work, as Deming says, and just the intrinsic motivation. And I think about kids, they're just full of positive energy and rolling around, and there's just so much positive energy and it's like the world just starts beating them down over time. It's hard enough to overcome some of the challenges you're facing with your family at home, and then you come into a school and you've gotta operate within this framework. And it's like, I suspect that kids would appreciate the idea of bringing joy to the classroom, but what have you seen from kids? 0:36:11.5 JD: Well, I think you're onto something when you say, as kids sort of go on in their educational career, a lot of times are sort of beat down by certain aspects of the educational system. So I think one thing is there's a process to undo some of that. And that's probably what I see most with my own kids or students that I'm working with in our network. So if you ask a student or if you ask your own kids something like, "How was school today? Or how are you doing in science?" What they'll often tell you is a grade. "I got... I got... " "Okay, you had a test today. How was it?" "Well, I got a B." "Well, what did you learn?" And often times it's really hard to pull that out because they've been so trained to think about school as a series of grades or a series of silence, a series of percentages versus what did you learn? What are you taking from that? What does that mean? So I see a lot of that. I also see a lot of... There's a lot of reward and punishment that is a part of a lot of school systems, whether it's treasure boxes or reward systems in the classroom. And I was just as guilty as a teacher and frankly as a principal in that other school of having those systems. 0:37:49.0 JD: But when you say at the end of the day, "How was your day?" And they sort of tell you back what they were doing in the behavior point system versus what did they learn, and who did they talk to that day, and what did they take from the day. I think you quickly realize that even if the behavior system or the grading system had good intentions behind it, that kids are often experiencing those systems in a very different way. And so I think kids are very open to it, just like adults when you explain it, I think what's... The tough part is that they've been in the system that has all of these different sort of things that are wearing them down. And I think you have to unpack that and untie that and sort of re-educate I guess this, re-train them to think about school and academics and how they're interacting in school in a different way. 0:38:46.0 AS: And it makes you think that students are the secret weapon of the implementation of some of this, because I think there's a lot of... At first, when you come across the Deming material, it doesn't feel intuitive. It feels hard sometimes to understand, it can be confusing, but once you start to realize and understand it, you start to realize that there's a lot of intuitive nature of things. And a kid can observe random outcomes, and then they see adults rewarding random and then they're like, "Well, Johnny just got lucky in that particular thing or whatever." And so they can understand a lot of things, so maybe we can say that there is a little bit of a secret weapon there. 0:39:33.0 JD: Yeah, and kids are very intuitive, and so I think in going back to some of those rewards systems, I think one of the things that happens and we maybe don't pay enough attention to it, is as soon as there is a reward system, there's a game that starts. And so a good example of this is there's a number of reading, online reading programs where kids read a book and then they take a quiz that sort of assesses comprehension. And on the face it seems like a positive thing, oh, kids have read X number of words, I'll hear there's a lot, or X number of books, and they weren't reading before and this program gets him to read. But when you start to unpack that, you go ask a kid, "Well, what do you think of this program?" "Ah it's pretty boring, but I do get prizes." Or something like, "Well, I'm impressed, you've read 10 books this in the past couple of months, and that seems to be because you're doing this program." And he's like, "No, I just pick short books because I know I can read them faster." 0:40:41.9 JD: And so as soon as you start to put those you take sort of intrinsic nature of enjoying a book for the book's sake, for the story, and you instead tie it to some type of point system. There's all types of things, many of which are hidden that are the motivations just under the surface for why kids are doing what they're doing that you're missing because you're not talking to them, and not really listening to how they're responding to that reward system. So like even a positive thing like a reading program, that seems good on the face can often have an underlying darker nature that's going on. 0:41:17.9 AS: Yeah, and I think... I wanna wrap up this section of the discussion, and I think what I would like to wrap that up with is taking on what you were just saying is that when you are measuring anything and you find yourself wanting to add on additional measures, because they're getting... Things are getting disincentivized. So okay, now you say, "Okay, well, we've gotta track it by the length of books or we gotta track their eyeballs, or we gotta... " Every time that you find yourself having to add on some different type of measurement, I think it's a good time to step back and say, "What are we really doing here, and do we really understand the incentives that we're... The activities that we're really incentivizing by this, and are we really getting to our goal of that." And that's a painful discussion because as you say, you're still sometimes, you're gonna have to search for what's the replacement, what's the solution. But when you find yourself trying to add on more things to try to box the kids in, you're probably now caught up in this system of testing and scoring and measuring that is going out of control. 0:42:41.2 JD: Yeah, I think that's right. And the thing that I think of, and I can't remember where I saw it, if it was a Deming thing, or maybe I heard it from David Langford, it was a shift in perspective. In terms of your role as a teacher, or if you're the CEO of a company or the principal school, whatever it is, many of those folks myself included at one point, when you ask them what their job is, many people will tell you it's to motivate my students or motivate the people that work in my company. But probably a better frame is not to motivate them, but rather to remove the obstacles to them finding joy in learning or joy in work, and that's a different mindset, right? And so instead of incentivizing or coming up with different metrics in the case of that reading program, what I would be thinking about is, have I created a comfortable spot for kids to read in the classroom? Is there a good supply of books with lots of different interesting topics? Have I talked to kids about what they're interested in reading? Have I carved out a time in the day where everybody is reading? And so then instead of me pushing, now I'm removing obstacles that would prevent kids from reading in that example, and creating an environment that makes it much more likely that kids are gonna enjoy it and wanna keep doing it in an intrinsic fashion, rather than trying to monitor extrinsically. 0:44:11.0 AS: So let's wrap up by talking about what you've been working on, you've been working, you've been writing and maybe you can share where you're at and what you're producing. And then after that, I think we'll highlight to the audience what we're gonna do in the future episodes. So maybe tell us about what you're working on and kind of where that's at, and then why you're doing it, and what's the value that you think it can bring. 0:44:37.9 JD: Yeah, I'm actually, I'm writing a book on applying Deming's ideas to schools, it's sort of the tentative title is Win-Win, W. Edwards Deming the System of Profound Knowledge in the Science of Improving Schools. So I've actually found a publisher, I've completed a draft and submitted it to them, and so we're working right now on getting the book published. And so I'm hopping by the end of the school year that'll be out and published and available for folks, so that's the big thing I've been working on, I actually started in September of 2020. So it's been quite the project to bring it from just an idea to an almost published project, so hopefully soon that'll be ready. 0:45:25.6 AS: Exciting, and I think that leads us into we're gonna... You and I are gonna have some conversations about that book and about the things that you're learning and teaching throughout that, and we'll have a series that we'll be going through, which I'm excited to learn from you. Ultimately I have businesses, and I apply Deming's thinking in business, but also I'm a teacher so I enjoy everything that I can learn from people like yourself and David, and I know the audience will learn. So let me ask one last question, and that is, why Deming? And why now? Why is it important that it's Deming and why is it important that we are looking at this now? 0:46:14.1 JD: That's a really good question, I would say I consider myself a learner, I read a lot, I watch a lot, I listen to a lot of podcasts, and across my 20 years I've never found anything quite like the Deming philosophy. You search for these magic or silver bullets and they really don't exist, but the Deming philosophy really has been that thing for me, because I think what I didn't realize is the importance of an underlying philosophy for then everything else that you're doing. And that foundation is what the System of Profound Knowledge has really provided to me in my work. And I also mentioned as I thought through the ideas pretty deeply, and wrote about those ideas in the book, every time I had some dissonance initially with the Deming idea and then I put it in my own life, I worked it out and said, "Yep no, that... He was exactly right. Have we thought about how we interact in our organizations, how we interact with each other." And so not that the dissonance has gone away, not that I understand all of the ideas perfectly, but every time I've tested it and tried to falsify the philosophy or the theory I haven't been able to do it. And there's nothing else that I can say that I've worked with that has held up to that scrutiny like this philosophy. 0:47:49.7 AS: Fantastic. Well, John, on behalf of everyone at the Deming Institute, I wanna thank you again for coming on the show, and I wonder, do you have any parting words for our audience? 0:48:00.1 JD: Yeah, I think one of my favorite Deming quotes is really short and to the point, he said, "I make no apologies for learning." And I think that's a really good way to end the conversation, and what he meant by that was, you might have not have been doing it right before, but there's this opportunity to learn this new way. And that's sort of the opportunity that I've taken as I've discovered Deming's work.\ 0:48:28.4 AS: And that concludes another great story from the worldwide Deming community, remember to go to Deming.org to continue your journey. This is your host Andrew Stotz, and I'll leave you with my favorite quote from Dr. Deming, and that is people are entitled to joy in work.