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Jan 31, 2020

In our 33rd "Deming Lens" episode, host Tripp Babbitt shares his interpretation of wide-ranging aspects and implications of Dr. Deming's theory of management. This month he looks at transforming an organization using the Deming Philosophy.

Show Notes

Deming Institute Podcast -Deming Lens Episode 33

Changes to Release of Episodes


Transformation of an Organization

Three Reasons to Transform

Transformation from The New Economics and Out of the Crisis

Continuous cs. Continual Improvement




Tripp: [00:00:14] In the thirty third Deming lens, we'll talk about transformation and the Deming philosophy.


Tripp: [00:00:28] Hi, I'm Tripp Babbitt, host of the Deming Institute podcast this month we're making some changes, I'm going to be doing 12 to 15 episodes during the course of 2020 and that that could be subject to change. But right now the plan is that I will at least do one of these Deming lens per month unless there's an interview that will be conducting.


Tripp: [00:01:00] This month, I'd like to cover transformation and transformation is significant to me because it was the first time I had heard it really applied to an organization back in the eighties when I was listening to Dr. Demings four day seminar and when he mentioned transformation for an organization, I thought that was so unusual.


Tripp: [00:01:28] I'd always heard people transforming themselves may maybe going from, you know, alcohol abuse to being sober or the way that they changed their lives, those types of things.


Tripp: [00:01:43] But it's the first time I heard the word transformation applied to an organization, so. I'd like to just kind of give you some observations, some quotes from Dr. Deming from both Out of the Crisis and The New Economics. And the first quote that I have written out here is the first step, and this is from out of Out of the Crisis step in the transformation is learn how to change.


Tripp: [00:02:12] That is to understand and use the 14 points and to cure themselves of the diseases, long term solvency, them solving problems big and small will not halt the decline of American industry, nor will computers, gadgets and robotic machinery and not even statistical methods.


Tripp: [00:02:33] So this is one of the things that really stood out to me in that he was saying and Out of the Crisis. The first step transformation is to learn how to change. And I would agree with that. I think that it and it's something that is very personal. But I think a lot of people, when they were first listening to Dr. Demings message thought transformation in terms of not necessarily themselves, even though they may have been transformed as an individual, but thinking in terms of the organization and in The New Economics, he said that the transformation begin.


Tripp: [00:03:19] The first step to transformation is with the individual. So The New Economics, which was written later, I think kind of qualifies that that change really has to happen at the individual level before you can really move to the organization. Now, I've experimented with different ways of doing this over the years and definitely there are some people that are not going to get transformed. You have to find people who are exploring or curious or put them in a mode of discovery in order to transform themselves.They have to be you know, you can't.


Tripp: [00:03:59] As I've mentioned in other episodes of this podcast that you cannot out logic somebody. You can not.Argue with them. They're not going to accept some of the things they're telling. And I've worked hard over the years to find ways for them. Them being the individual to discover for themselves and some people you spend some time on and others are never going to accept it. And that's just the nature of people. But, you know, I think the key here in making a transformation is getting to that critical mass of people.


Tripp: [00:04:42] Now, Russell, Ackoff mentioned the three ways that that reasons that people would be willing to transform themselves. The first way is that they're in a crisis. And the second way is that the CEO adopts it. And I think we see some of that with a lot of the people in the Deming community.


Tripp: [00:05:01] You had extaordinary leaders like Dick Steel and Paula Marshall and others that have gone out there and just said this is the right thing for me. Now, some of these people worked with Dr. Deming himself. So that obviously makes it a little bit easier to adopt. The third thing is that and where most transformation happens is going to be by other people within the organization that think it's the right thing to do for their company, for their organization. And they just kind of pick up the they got the gantlet and say, I'm gonna I'm gonna do this and they get other people involved. And I think that's not a bad way of going about it. You'd have to start somewhere. And as Dr. Deming told David Langford in a previous interview that I had with David was that when you reach a critical mass of people, so if you get a hundred people in your organization that Dr. Deming said the square root. Now, whether he made that up or whatever, it kind of makes sense to me. If you get 10 people on a 100 person organization to adopt that thinking, that's that's a lot of power within an organization to be able to make change within it. So this idea of starting with the individual does make sense to me. And then as you get to understand the first of all, the Deming philosophy or have a method to do so that you can begin the transformation from there.


Tripp: [00:06:42] So let me walk through a few of the things that I've written down. I just kind of pulled out from the word transformation. That was pretty repetitive. One thing that he said quite often in The New Economics and Out of the Crisis was that the transformation is to a new style of management. And and he really emphasized this multiple times in both books. Now, obviously, in the The New Economics would talk in terms of system, a profound knowledge. And then out of Out of the Crisis talk in terms of 14 points and the deadly diseases. But. He he was very adamant within the new The New Economics know, this is not for application to just shut the shop floor, and where we see a lot of the activities are the transformations going on. These wonderful things happen at the worker level and middle management gets a little bit weaker sometimes depending on who's champing at the bit. You know, you get to the executive, the executive level and then it gets a little rougher go and then obviously things die out. I think, you know, as I reflect on years of working with the Demings philosophy, I think the problem is we haven't focused on methods for executives to be able to adopt the Deming philosophy. I think it just makes sense at a worker level. I've never had a seminar or a workshop or a speech that I've given where the workers aren't standing there or sitting there shaking their heads.


Tripp: [00:08:35] Yeah, well, this yeah, it makes perfect sense, you know, to me. But you know, this isn't what our management's doing. And so we're Dr. Deming focused his time and effort was with management. And management is not a a does not necessarily want to be complicit in change. He liked the system the way that they like. And transformation for them is something. Now, that's something for the shop floor. And I think that these are some of the failings associated with things like Six Sigma and lean on other things that he talked about that, you know, he talked quite a bit about. It's not spontaneous. You have to kind of struggle with some of these concepts. I think at an individual and organizational level, as I've witnessed over the years, that there is no instant pudding. He also talked quite a bit and this is an interesting one to me because he talks in terms of its transformation is discontinuous. Now, I and the Deming users group that I participated in here in Indianapolis, one of the things we'd always say is continual improvement as opposed to continuous improvement. And that was a way for me anyway, as I could tell, whether people were Deming followers in the area by the words that they use, if they use the words continual improvement as opposed to continue suppor movement.


Tripp: [00:10:01] I knew that they were kind of in the Deming community.And the reason I was given that there is a difference between these two words is that it's an improvement is not continuous, it's not a straight line up, or that sometimes you have to take a couple steps back before you can move forward, which makes perfect sense when you start to look at plan to study, act and and experimentation sometimes. You know, this experiment is going to fail and you've got to move on to either another idea or pivot from it or scrap it or whatever you need to do. One other thing that he talked about in The New Economics was when I looked up, transformation was coming, that that the transformation has come from an outside view. And I think this is so important. And sometimes people say, oh, well, I need to get a consultant and then to be able to do the transformation. I certainly believe that can probably facilitate things happening faster for you. But I think more importantly is that you're taking a different view of your organization in order to make the transformation of yourself personally. It's something that I've been very passionate about as finding ways or methods for people to follow so that they can get an outside view, but not necessarily have somebody on site with them.


Tripp: [00:11:36] He also talked in terms of an Out of the Crisis, he talked on the transformation, that it's a directed effort and that it's a long term commitment and that it's everybody's job is job. And those are the primary words that are associated with Dr. Deming and transformation. One last comment I'll make about transformation is when you when you work with people, when or when I've worked with organizations, some people say, well, this is just common sense. And you know, Dr. Deming, I always laugh because when Dr. Deming would would talk in terms of what commonsense has told us to do in the past, and they are things like rank people on the job, the rank teams, divisions, dealers, the costs in hospitals reward the best, punish the worse quotas. Speak to a person that made the error. Reward the salesman of the month. All of these things are things that obviously people thought were common sense.


Tripp: [00:12:52] And I and a lot of them are steeped in different thinking.


Tripp: [00:12:58] And this is the transformation. It's it's a transformation of the way that you think. And taking the Deming philosophy and applying that to yourself first. You getting getting a view, then I think you can begin to look at the organization and maybe pull other people and get to the critical mass that we talked about in order to make that transformation.


Tripp: [00:13:26] Thank you for listening to the Deming Institute podcast. Stay updated on the latest blogs, podcasts, programs and other activities at Deming dot org.