Wed, 27 May 2015
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.
Fri, 8 May 2015
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".
Thu, 9 April 2015
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.
Fri, 3 April 2015
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.
Mon, 16 March 2015
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.
Fri, 6 March 2015
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.
Fri, 20 February 2015
This week's podcast features Dick Steele, Founder and Chairman of Peaker Services, Inc. and member of The Deming Institute Board of Trustees. Dick discusses his company's transformation and how he has kept his employees engaged throughout their Deming Journey.
Dick shares his memory of how a book recommendation by his mother led to his introduction to Dr. Deming's philosophies. And how attending Dr. Deming's 4-day seminar led to the company dropping performance appraisals "cold turkey" the following week.
Listen as Dick discusses some of the changes that make the biggest difference (but are immeasurable) and how these changes have led to greater collaboration, employee engagement and innovation at Peaker Services.
Fri, 6 February 2015
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.
Sat, 24 January 2015
This week's Deming Podcast features Keith Sparkjoy, Cofounder and Culture Coach of Pluralsight, a leader in professional training for developers through an online learning experience.
Keith discusses his "awakening" on their journey to keep Pluralsight's healthy culture as they rapidly expanded. The Deming philosophies provided hope and as he came to understand variation and a new way to look at leadership, the transition moved very quickly. From creating a system that focused on customer - eliminating incentive pay for managers, commissions for salespeople, and paid time off policies - to establishing only two rules to guide the company.
Listen as Keith explains their journey to "seek the truth", how they have been able to burst the bubble of management, build trust, drive out fear and get people to work together as Pluralsight "grows up."
Fri, 9 January 2015
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.