Apr 29, 2021
In our 48th Deming Lens episode, host Tripp Babbitt shares his interpretation of wide-ranging aspects and implications of Dr. Deming's System of Profound Knowledge. This month he looks at management's job.
The Deming Lens - Episode 48
The Lost Art of Quality
The Source of Innovation
What's Happening in Organizations
[00:00:14] In the forty eighth episode of The Deming Lens, we'll look at Dr. Deming's last interview. Management doesn't know what its job is. For this month's Deming Lens, I was looking around for a subject, maybe something that I've talked about before, which after you've done a few podcast episodes, it's hard not to repeat yourself. But I came across an article from Industry Week and it was Dr. Deming's last interview with a gentleman from Industry Week. His name is Tim Stephens, and the article is titled Dr. Deming. Management today does not know what its job is. And it was a two part article. And I, as I started to read it, just brought back a lot of thinking and and it covered a lot of Dr. Deming's thoughts about quality, management, innovation and things of that sort. And it occurred to me that management still doesn't know what its job is. And in Dr. Deming's in this interview, the question was asked, what is management's job? And Dr. Deming responded, and I'm going to paraphrase a little bit. Here is Bob. They don't understand Mantid mean they management does not understand its responsibilities. They don't know the potential of the position. They lack knowledge or abilities, and there is no substitute for knowledge, which we've heard that phrase over and over again and. After you've studied the work of Dr. Deming for a long period of time, like I have when I went to his four day seminar in the 80s, you know, these things kind of resonate in your mind.
[00:02:39] And you reread them and read articles about them, people's comments about them. There is so much depth to even answering a question like what is what is management's job? And in a word, as Dr. Deming alludes to in this article, it's quality. And, you know, it's such a nebulous word. The word quality can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people and even for organizations or customers. How do you define that? In this article, Dr. Deming basically said quality what we'll do a customer some good and that what was required was to study the customer, get ahead of him or her. The customer invents nothing we've heard thus, you know, over and over again, it's his famous line which is actually quoted in this article. No customer ever asked for an electric light, a VCR or a CD. And so these are some of the things that Dr. Deming would talk about in terms of quality.
[00:03:59] And I think as time has gone by and you look at quality, first of all, it's a word that's rarely used anymore. We talk about customer experience and we talk about innovation. And I think those are components of quality, but really understanding.
[00:04:17] To me, there's two areas. One is understanding customer expectations of what they're going to get and a product or service. And even their Dr. Deming would say, you know, you as the provider of a service or product, build the expectations of what the customer is going to get. Now. Over time, I've learned to be very critical of organizations because I've seen what they're what they're capable of and what they're performing, and there is a huge delta there between at least at my expectations and what they're delivering from a service standpoint. And there's the curse of W. Edwards Deming, I guess one might say. And so that's the first thing is this this whole thing about expectations, especially if you've experienced good service, then you experience bad service and you understand what the delta is between those two things. And then the second thing is the source of innovation or innovation in general. You start and talk in terms of coming up with new products and services and ideas, whether it's in an effort to reduce variation or to come up with actually new products and services. And actually, if yeah, I would say that you're going to increase your variation till you work on that particular product or service where you can deliver it on a high level to a customer. But but the source of innovation. Innovation is what really kind of caught my eye in this article, too.
[00:06:20] And what he says and I'm going to quote from the article when he was asked the question, what then is the source of innovation? And Dr. Deming responded, The source of innovation is freedom. All we have new knowledge. Invention comes from freedom. Somebody responsible only to himself has the heaviest responsibility. Discoveries and new knowledge come from freedom. When somebody is responsible only to himself has only himself to satisfy, then you'll have invention, new thought, new product, new design, new ideas. And this ability to be free is one of the things that I see kind of disappearing and some cases they never had. It is an ability to be free within your job, especially if you're a front line worker or an employee of an organization. And this is where I think management is really squelching employees, front line people who are interacting with customers on a daily basis as they're so centralized and almost choreographed to a point where micromanagement is, you know, the the flavor of the day. We seem to be going not not not just in organizations, but just as a whole, this kind of pendulum swing to centralization of things and control of things and working in these organizations. And interestingly, I was participating in a LinkedIn conversation that I commented on. And let me just go back to this particular conversation.
[00:08:28] This started with a LinkedIn news poll, their LinkedIn news, if you're familiar with or have different topics, and then they'll pull comments and things from from folks. But the question was the poll. Have you considered leaving your job or actually left a role to pursue a passion project in the last year? Twenty two percent said yes. And I'm not looking back. Forty four percent said yes, I've considered it. Thirty percent said no, not at all. And four percent said it depends. And now there were over fifteen thousand responses to this poll, what you'll get when LinkedIn is sponsoring a particular poll, but. I wrote in this as a response, I said there are serious problems with our organizations. Why is it people have to leave a company define YOLO jobs and YOLO jobs? Are you only live once types of jobs? Where why would I want to, you know, experience grief in an organization that I have when I only live once? I might as well quit my existing job. I went on to write This is something I've been working on with executives, executive teams for over a decade now. It isn't easy to create a system people want to work in, but it is worth it. One large factor contribute to the YOLO mentality is control micromanaged. Employees will either leave, undermine your mission or mail it in meaning disengage.
[00:10:17] You, engage employees with purpose, assist you with the customer innovation and greater good, leaving the details to employees to accomplish and control their work. Opportunities exist for those wanting to run their own show, and organizations need to compete against it or lose people. This requires new approaches and methods, and I think a lot of that response really comes from my study of Dr. Deming and what is management's job. And with all the centralization that we seem to have going on not only in government but also in our organizations, we're losing that freedom that that creates this need to create the atmosphere, to innovate. And so I wanted to just share I still think management doesn't know what its job is. I worked very hard coming up with methods to help define that. They're very imperfect. But that's been a huge focus of how do you get management to understand what their job is. And then when you look through the lens of the system of profound knowledge, you're going to see things. When you look at your organization as a system, when you understand variation and the power of of using control charts, when you and understand variation, the power of how to get knowledge and using scientific method and and then the psychology of it. And in fact, one of the things I wrote in my notes here as I was reading this was, you know, does your organization provide freedom? And it's so important you want to create stress in people.
[00:12:21] Neuroscience has found that, you know, if you don't control your own work, this this is something that is really going to drive people out of your organization. They have no freedom. They have no sense of freedom if it's just about training them. And you do step one step to follow the procedure type of atmosphere, that doesn't help her company because you've got to constantly be innovating today and today's world. And it's one of the advantage, at least here in the US we've had for a long period of time, is allowing that freedom and, you know, tapping into that to come up with not only new ways of doing things, but new products and services. So anyway, I thought I'd share that with you this month. Hopefully maybe you picked up something off of either the article, which I'll put a link to in the show notes or possibly my response in my linked in response to why people are leaving organizations. But share your thoughts. Either you can go to the LinkedIn article or reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hi, this is Tripp Babbitt, one way that you can help the Deming Institute and this podcast is by providing a reading on Apple podcast.