The W. Edwards Deming Institute® Podcast (education)

Commencing in 2014, The Deming Institute has recorded podcasts on a monthly basis, featuring 20 to 30-minute interviews by Tripp Babbitt with members of the Deming Community who are advancing the use and explanations of Dr. Deming's ideas. 

In our May podcast, his sixth session with Tripp (1st2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th), David Langford, author, consultant, President, Ingenium Schools, and, 2017 ASQ Deming Medal Recipient, offers insights on his efforts to lead a Deming transformation within Ingenium Schools.

In his latest podcast, David reflects on 31 years of learning and applying the Deming philosophy to enrich society, with a focus on advancing education systems.   Beginning with his first conversation with Dr. Deming in 1986, when he personally answered David’s phone call from Sitka, Alaska, he has been on a personal learning journey, including mentored from Dr. Deming.   With encouragement from Dr. Deming, David reached out to Myron Tribus, who traveled to Sitka to learn more about David’s efforts to bring Dr. Deming’s theory of management to his high school education system.   Soon thereafter, David and Myron were speaking together at conferences about their efforts to improve education systems, using a Deming lens.

Fast forward to 2016, when David was selected to serve as president of Ingenium Schools and shift from “living vicariously as a consultant” (with Langford Learning) to “get back to the laboratory” of an education system in a full-time capacity.  In this month’s podcast, David goes down memory lane with Tripp to explore topics such as: 

  • His first phone call with Dr. Deming
  • Collaborating with his mentor, Myron Tribus
  • A 25+ year career as a consultant with Langford Learning
  • An offer from founder and previous president, Glenn Noreen, to join Ingenium Schools
  • Daily Innovation at Ingenium Schools, with 160+ employees
  • Have the fundamentals in education changed?
  • Finding meaning in the Pythagorean Theorem
  • Profound Learning Experiences
  • Looking for the smallest things which can have the biggest impact
  • Making decisions in a school system, both with and without the System of Profound Knowledge
  • Running meetings with "our" agenda vs. "the boss's" agenda
  • What teachers can do in a class room, in the absence of pre-determined answers to their questions
  • When teachers shift roles from managing behaviors to mentoring
  • Shifting from 1-way to 2-way conversations
  • “Ingenium Huddles”
  • Receiving the 2017 Deming Medal from the American Society for Quality
Direct download: DemingEpisode40.m4a
Category:education -- posted at: 9:43am EDT

David P. Langford, CEO of Langford Learning, Inc. – Where is all the Joy?

In this week’s podcast, David P. Langford, CEO of Langford Learning, Inc., focuses on “Joy in Learning” and how to bring joy back into the education system.

In answering why students aren’t experiencing “Joy in Learning” David starts by quoting Dr. Deming, “are we trying to create a system that teaches students to answer tests or are we trying to create a system that teaches them to think?” The current education system continues to focus on test scores, to the detriment of learning and the loss of elements in the system (like fine arts programs) that brought enjoyment. Dr. Deming was the first person David encountered who believed students have a right to joy in learning. 

What can you do to change the system?  David tells us that restoring joy begins with your “circle of influence” and connecting with those who want a better way to do things. Teachers can start by simply asking students, “what drives you to have joy in learning and what prevents it?”

David shares that there is no recipe for using the Deming philosophy, unlike other education movements. Often these methods don’t work because there is no understanding of variability between communities, states, cultures and the background of students. Once it’s decided to change the system, real learning happens, performance goes up and joy returns!

Direct download: DemingEpisode33.m4a
Category:education -- posted at: 1:50pm EDT

Kevin Cahill, Executive Director of The W. Edwards Deming Institute, and David Langford, CEO of Langford Learning, Inc. – “The Deming in Education Initiative”

In this week’s podcast, Kevin Cahill, Executive Director of The W. Edwards Deming Institute® and David Langford, CEO of Langford Learning, Inc., introduce The Deming in Education Initiative.  Kevin and David share how The Deming in Education Initiative was conceived, the impact of the Deming Philosophy on education, and where the Initiative is going in the future.

The initiative first began many years ago when David joined the Deming Institute Advisory Board to help with their efforts to apply the Deming philosophy in education. But the roots of Deming in Education go even further back.  As David explains, improving education was “a great love” of Dr. Deming, as an educator who taught at NY University for 40 years.  Many of Dr. Deming’s theories and teachings are directly focused on the education system.  After working with Dr. Deming from 1986 to 1993, David began implementing the concepts in his own education system, finding that students easily took to the new approach.

Over the last 25 years, David has seen the Deming teachings make a profound and lasting impact on improving school culture and the learning process in the US and around the world.  It is the only philosophy that improves all aspects of the education system.  That impact has inspired Kevin, David and The Deming Institute to commit a deeper focus on developing a long term, sustainable, systems approach to improving education for all students, through The Deming in Education Initiative.

Direct download: DemingEpisode30.m4a
Category:education -- posted at: 4:18pm EDT

Dr. Lisa Snyder, Superintendent of the Lakeville Public Schools In Minnesota – Moving from Good to Great.

This week's Podcast features Dr. Lisa Snyder, Superintendent of the Lakeville Public Schools. Lisa shares how the work of Dr. Deming is influencing her as a superintendent and the rewards and challenges of adopting his philosophies. 

Lisa's Deming journey began 23 years ago, when in a new job, she was sent to listen to Dr. Deming via satellite. The experience had a huge impact on Lisa as she connected Deming's philosophy to her own belief systems. She thought - this is the framework that public schools are desperately lacking. It was then that she became a Deming follower. 

What resonated for Lisa, was the idea of systems thinking rather than evaluating and blaming people. When she started to think about abandoning the "blame game" and looking instead at flaws in the system, it was very powerful.

Listen as Lisa talks about shifting the "mindset" in public schools from working in silos to working in collaboration through systems thinking. And how, as a district seeking to create meaningful change in the public school system, they adopted a policy to lead their organization through a continuous improvement philosophy.  

Lisa explains that it was both exciting and challenging to find where schools should have high levels of autonomy and where there should be more systems alignment for efficiency and effectiveness. But the process brought more people to the leadership table and broader sense of empowerment to those who would help change the philosophy of the district.

Direct download: DemingEpisode23.m4a
Category:education -- posted at: 5:55pm EDT

Alfie Kohn, National Speaker and Author on Education - "Students as the Center of Gravity"

This week's Podcast feature Alfie Kohn, national speaker and author of 14 books, and scores of articles, on human behavior, management, and education. 

Alfie discusses the inspiration for his books including, No Contest and Punished by Rewards, the divergent thoughts surrounding the history of education in the 20th century, and his views on standardized testing and homework. 

Alfie explains how, as a contrarian with a practice of finding issues where logic and research points in one direction and practices move in a different direction, he started thinking and writing about competition. He began debunking the common notion that "competition is inevitable because it's just part of human nature".

Next Alfie discusses the different philosophies on education in the early 20th century. As one side supported the experience of the student as the "center of gravity", the other focused on rules, curriculum, numbers and behaviors - things outside the classroom that can be measured. 

Alfie tells us how standardized testing has undermined education, even when test scores go up, and how much time has been taken away from real learning to teach kids how to be good at taking tests.

Lastly, Alfie shares what he will be talking about on November 8th, at The First Annual Deming in Education Conference in Seattle.


Direct download: DemingEpisode24.m4a
Category:education -- posted at: 6:43pm EDT

Bret Champion - Students Are More Than Test Scores

This week's Podcast features Dr. Bret Champion, Superintendent of the Leander Independent School District in Leander, Texas. Bret discusses Leander ISD's journey and how they faced the challenges of a growing school district, external federal and state standards and limited resources to create a quality education system focused on the most critical component, the student. 

Bret shares his early adoption of the "Leander Way" and how he discovered it was based on the Deming teachings. At Leander, he found a collaborative environment, free from the palpable fear felt at other schools by students and teachers alike. Liberated from fear through partnership, interaction, cooperation and training, it was about a system, "not just by the book". 

Bret explains how he is drawn to messy and noisy classrooms, because "that's where learning happens". At Leander, they realized they did not know what defined a quality classroom or how to measure it. From this experience they developed their "Seven Student Learning Behaviors".

As a district of 36,000 students and 400 employees spread over 200 square miles, Bret describes the constant "battle for balance" and the road to quality as a "marathon". But they continue to work towards incremental changes on their journey of improvement, never letting go of their culture, shared vision and belief that students are "more than test scores".

Direct download: DemingEpisode20.m4a
Category:education -- posted at: 5:47pm EDT

Doug Stilwell - "Preparing The Soil" - an Integral Part of the Learning Process

This week's podcast features Dr. Doug Stilwell, Superintendent of the Urbandale Community School District. Doug shares his application of the Deming Philosophy in education - looking at education from a systems point a view and driving out fear with trust.

Listen as Doug talks about how, after 35 years in education, he always felt that "something was not right." It wasn't until 2009 when he attended a David Langford Seminar, which applied the Deming philosophy in education, that he said "this is it, this is the stuff I have been looking for."

Doug endured 35 years of new initiatives from the legislature and Department of Education, with no changes in student achievement. It caused him to think back to Deming and that "people are not the problem, it's the system." If they did not take a systems approach they would be doomed to fail. He realized that whether you're looking at the district as a whole, or a building or even a classroom, it's a system, and the way you approach that system will have the greatest impact on student learning.

Doug shares his lifelong interest in trust, the role it plays in driving out fear, and his conclusion that, "if there is fear in an organization, that means that there is not trust." By engendering trust, Doug realized that people can be freed from fear and feel freer to innovate.

Lastly, Doug shares his recommendations for others are they begin their journey. It starts with defining an aim for thieir system and clearly communicating that with the students. A few years ago, Doug was disheartened after reading a study show that the decrease in joy for learning begins in Kindergarten. But this reinforced for him the value of systems thinking, and that teacher understanding of a systems approach in the classroom is a great place to start.

Direct download: stilwelldraft.m4a
Category:education -- posted at: 2:45pm EDT

David Langford - "Stop Doing the Wrong Thing Righter" to Start Changing the Education System

This week's podcast features David Langford, CEO and Founder of Langford International, Inc. and Deming Institute Advisory Board member.

In David's third podcast he explores ways to get started in employing the Deming philosophy in education. In many instances this requires an "out of body experience"; stop playing the blame game, stop being a victim. He tells us to stop worrying about the bigger system and start optimizing the performance of the group, which you have influence over. 

David shares an example of a student whose "new" knowledge and appreciation for a system led to a study of the most common systemic questions asked by students. Listen as he reviews what they learned - to stop wasting time on things that are not meaningful, to start concentrating on things that are and get those to a higher degree of performance and to concentrate on deep learning experiences with lasting impact.

David explores how a small group of committed people working in a consistent fashion can transform an organization. You don't have to be "all in" to create transformation. It can start with you.

Direct download: DemingEpisode17.m4a
Category:education -- posted at: 6:24pm EDT

David Langford explores Education and the Race to the Top  "...this too shall pass"

This week's podcast features David Langford, CEO and founder of Langford International, Inc. and Deming Institute Advisory Board member.

David discusses "Education as a System" and using the four parts of Deming's "System of Profound Knowledge" to make a systemic change to the current education system. He talks about the "aim" and "product" of the education system. "What are we trying to accomplish?" "Are we just trying to improve test scores or are we trying to teach kids to think?"

David talks about the difference between studying and learning and the diminishing returns you receive when you have a whole system based on memorization. And why attempts to improve the system through programs such as "No Child Left Behind" and "Race to the Top" do not work.

Listen as David explores "what is good learning" and how changing the education system through "continual improvement thinking" (rather than just adding programs) will lead to better results for students and teachers; a win-win for all. 

Direct download: DemingEpisode12.m4a
Category:education -- posted at: 4:36pm EDT

Monta Akin discusses Leander Independent School District's Transformation to "Happyville"

This week's podcast features Monta Akin, Assistant Superintendent for Leander Independent School District in Leander, Texas.

Monta shares her Deming journey and the compelling story of Leander Independent School District's transformation.  It begins when Monta was first introduced to Deming when she came across the PBS series "Quality or Else" featuring David Langford. What caught her attention was his Deming-based systematic approach to education, creating passion in students by engaging them in the practice of improvement. 

Serendipitously, the next day Monta picked up an educational magazine with information on a David Langford seminar. She rallied a few Leander colleagues to attend. It totally changed how they looked at instruction and the partnership with students. They realized that to be a great school district they would have to do something different. 

As they began adopting the Deming philosophies, Monta and her colleagues discovered how transparency built teamwork and realized the detrimental effect of fear, especially of teacher ratings. This led to a major change in how they conducted evaluations; a pivotal moment in their transformation. 

Monta shares the positive results at Leander independent School District, and why after more than 20 years, she is still passionately committed to the Deming philosophy.

Direct download: DemingEpisode13.m4a
Category:education -- posted at: 6:04pm EDT