The W. Edwards Deming Institute® Podcast (interviews)

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:Interviews -- posted at: 2:55pm PDT

Ron Moen and Cliff Norman of Associates in Process Improvement (API) - "I Make No Apologies for Learning"

Ron Moen and Cliff Norman, of Associates in Process Improvement (API), discuss their similar experiences where first introduced to Dr. Deming, their paper "Evolution of Deming's System of Profound Knowledge" and finally the "journey of learning" through the lens of SoPK, that Dr. Deming left the world.

Ron and Cliff start with an introduction on their first meeting with Dr. Deming; how he challenged what they knew and had learned and dramatically changed their thinking and lives going forward.

The main focus of the podcast summarizes the paper Cliff and Ron will publish next year about the evolution of The Deming System of Profound Knowledge, from it's beginnings when Dr. Deming was introduced to Shewhart in 1927 until his death in 1993. Listen as they walk us through Deming's own learning, starting with SQC (Statistical Quality Control) to SQC for Management (which he taught to the Japanese) through the tremendous growth in the 1980's after the NBC White Paper "If Japan Can...Why Can't We?" Deming's learning continued through multiple versions of the 14 points, Seven Deadly Diseases and the four elements of Profound Knowledge. Deming's work culminated with his greatest contribution, the theory and interaction between the four elements, which became The Deming System of Profound Knowledge.

The last portion of the Podcast focuses on the journey of learning. Dr Deming, said, "I make no apologies for learning" as his message changed and evolved throughout his life. The teachings continue to impact Ron and Cliff in their lives and work and this research provides fascinating insight into Dr. Deming's personal journey of learning. 

Direct download: DemingEpisode25.m4a
Category:Interviews -- posted at: 4:13pm PDT

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:Interviews -- posted at: 3:43pm PDT

Jim Benson, Founding Partner of Modus Institute and Author of Personal Kanban - "You Can Have Too Many Manhattans!"

This week's Podcast features Jim Benson, founding partner of the Modus Institute.  Jim discusses how he was introduced to the Deming Philosophy, how his team applies it to Knowledge Work (work that can't be seen), and what he feels is the biggest fear in an organization.

Though he was initially introduced accidently on an airplane, Jim shared how he was actively looking for a set of guiding principles around what would create a human oriented, self-aware way of managing work. As he hopes everyone finds out, the four points of the System of Profound Knowledge do that in a very elegant, concise and friendly way.

At Modus Cooperendi, they apply the Deming Philosophy with three guiding principles: Respect for people, SOPK, and the One Point (summation of the 14 points). They take those principles and help companies build new Life Systems, so they can visualize their work for the first time leading to better communication, collaboration and transparency.

Listen as Jim tells us why they feel "the unknown" is the biggest fear in an organization. And how building trust within teams can remove one of the largest barriers to your company. Hear how some companies they're working with are doing just that.

Direct download: DemingEpisode22A.m4a
Category:Interviews -- posted at: 9:58am PDT

Louis Altazan, President of AGCO Automotive Corporation - Realizing "I Was The Problem" Was The First Step To Success

This week's Podcast features Louis Altazan, President of AGCO Automotive Corporation in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Louis discusses his introduction to Dr. Deming and his philosophies, his "aha" moment, and the long-term thinking and trust that must be established to succeed. 

Louis starts with a brief introduction of AGCO, and his feeling that the automotive industry could be doing better. After toiling for 10 years with various philosophies, it was the 1980 NBC documentary "If Japan Can, Why Can't We" that hit home with him. He picked up the phone and called Dr. Deming. And as they say "the rest is history."

Louis began implementing Deming's 14 points right away. His biggest "aha" moment was that "I was the problem." Once he realized this, he called a meeting to apologize and things started to get better right away. Louis removed everyone from the "flat rate" pay system and put them on salary. This helped his staff change their focus from short-term thinking and profits to long-term thinking and trust. 

Louis warns that you can't apply some part of Dr. Deming's philosophy and not others - that "it's a cohesive system that all works together." Done this way you will start seeing improvement almost immediately, but the real benefits will be felt about 20 years down the road. 

Direct download: DemingEpisode21.m4a
Category:Interviews -- posted at: 9:51am PDT

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:Interviews -- posted at: 2:47pm PDT

Gordon McGilton - It's Not "I'll Believe It When I See It, But You'll See It When You Believe It"

This week's Podcast features Gordon McGilton, Director of a Private Equity Fund with investment in multiple industries. Gordon shares the humorous and unique way he was introduced to Dr. Deming's philosophies. He provides an example of a company that is using The Deming System of Profound Knowledge with great success, as well as how one can begin their own journey.

Gordon starts with, "every business is just a system and that system delivers some change of state that customers are willing to pay for. Everything else in between is just by what method to do it."

Listen as Gordon shares the Jet-Hot, Inc. story, a real example of how he applied the Deming System of Profound Knowledge and systems thinking to a coatings company on the verge of insolvency. After three years, with the same people, the company is prospering and the employees are proud of what they do, the company they work for and the solutions they provide the customers.

We step back and hear how Gordon was introduced to Dr. Deming's philosophies while working in the auto industry in 1980, when the documentary "If Japan Can, Why Can't We" aired on NBC-TV. This is a must listen podcast, as Gordon shares the tale of his initial resistance to attending Dr. Deming's 4-Day Seminar; and his subsequent understanding that everything he had learned in management, up to that point, was wrong.

Gordon explores his Aha! Moments, the first of which was, "you can't increase someone's capability by offering them money or by threatening them." This was a huge breakthrough, as he was raised on an intimidation model believing that's how you got things done. The breakthrough came once he saw that providing employees with the instructions, tools, information and support they needed, is what actually improved their performance.


Direct download: DemingEpisode19.m4a
Category:Interviews -- posted at: 3:15pm PDT

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: DemingEpisode18.m4a
Category:Interviews -- posted at: 11:45am PDT

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:Interviews -- posted at: 3:24pm PDT

Doug Hall, CEO of Innovation Engineering Shares the What, Why and How of Innovation

This week's podcast features Doug Hall, CEO and Founder of Innovation Engineering and Eureka! Ranch as he shares his approach for taking the systems thinking of Dr. Deming and applying it to the world of strategy, innovation, and growth.

Doug shares the story of how his father introduced him to Dr. Deming and systems thinking in the late 70's. Doug's father worked at Nashua Corporation, which was one of the early corporate adopters of Dr. Deming's philosophies. Later Doug took that systems mindset to the Proctor and Gamble brand management department taking nine innovations to market in 12 months, which is still a record today.

After 10 years he retired from corporate life and established Eureka! Ranch. He soon found that corporate executives were not interested in a systemic approach to innovation. Doug pivoted and repackaged himself as a innovation Guru who in truth was powered by systems thinking. He was soon named one of America's top idea gurus by A&E To 10, Inc. Magazine and the Wall Street Journal. Doug went on to do dozens of projects for such top innovators as Nike, Walt Disney, and AT&T. His fame lead to network radio and television roles, writing of books and to the role of "Truth Teller" judge on the first season of ABC TV's American Inventor. 

As he was getting ready to retire from consulting he returned to his roots and founded the new field of academic study known as Innovation Engineering at the University of Maine. Their mission is to change the world by enabling innovation by everyone, everywhere, everyday resulting in increased speed to market and decreased risk. Their method for accomplishing this is to apply the systems thinking of Dr. Deming.  The rise of the internet and the 2008 recession created the opportunity to transfer the system approach to innovation from universities to the commercial world. It worked-companies found that when they enabled their employees they could increase speed to market by up to 6x and decrease innovation risk by 30 to 80%. 

Listen as Doug explains why he feels today's younger generation are the greatest generation for workers. And why starting with the "what, why and how" is such an important first step in innovation.


Direct download: DemingEpisode16.m4a
Category:Interviews -- posted at: 4:15pm PDT