The W. Edwards Deming Institute® Podcast

Frony Ward, Managing and Founding Partner of Pinnacle Partners, Inc. – Process Behavior Charts are the "Secret Sauce" to Seeing the World

This week's podcast, continues our "Knowledge in Variation Series" with Dr. Frony Ward, Managing and Founding Partner of Pinnacle Partners, Inc. Frony discusses the importance of Statistical Process Control (SPC) in all parts of an organization and why it's a barrier to many.

 Frony was first introduced to SPC (Statistical Process Control) when she was teaching at the University of Tennessee. An opportunity arose to be a part of an institute surrounding statistical process control and she jumped in with both feet, deepening her knowledge of Deming. The institute became a place for people to continue learning after Dr. Deming's Four-Day Seminar. Frony spent the remainder of her time at U of T working with automotive facilities that wanted to study variation and use SPC.

 Frony had an opportunity to meet Dr. Deming in 1982 and he completely turned her thinking upside down, especially around Acceptance Sampling Plans. Deming's theory was that the percentage of defective units in the rest of the lot is independent of the percentage of defective units in your sample. Her mind was blown when she went back and proved this herself.

 When Frony first learned SPC, it was totally new to her. At first she didn't realize the impact of knowing common cause and special cause variation. After a number of engagements it became obvious that SPC was "the name of the game". At all levels of the organization, from the inspection level to the management level, she could see instantly what was going on by using SPC. It was a powerful tool to "highlight" what people needed to know to make decision and help improve.

 Frony finds it fascinating and frustrating that many organizations are aware of SPC but don't use it. She feels that for some reason, finance systems can compromise improvement. Organizations just don't understand that the process behavior chart is the "secret sauce" to seeing their organization. 

Direct download: DemingEpisode27.m4a
Category:Interviews -- posted at: 4:01pm PST

10 Minutes With Dr. Deming - Innovation

This week we are kicking off our 10 Minutes with Dr. Deming series.  In this new series moderator Tripp Babbitt will cover, in 10-minute segments, a variety of topics that Dr. Deming spoke about in his seminars and speeches. In our first “10-minute” podcast, Tripp discusses innovation, mentioned prominently in Dr. Deming’s books, Out of the Crisis and The New Economics.  Enjoy!

If you have comments or suggestions for future 10 Minutes with Dr. Deming topics, please contact Tripp at or through Twitter @demingpodcast.


Direct download: Inaugural10withDeming.m4a
Category:10 Minutes with Dr. Deming -- posted at: 8:51am PST

Lynda Finn, President of Statistical Insight, LLC and facilitator for The Deming Institute – A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Data Points.

This week's podcast features the first episode of our "Knowledge In Variation Series" with Lynda Finn, President of Statistical Insight, LLC and facilitator of The Deming Institute's 2.5 Day Seminar.  Lynda discusses the importance of moving from spreadsheets to plotting data, and the common mistakes that organizations make if they aren't charting their data.

Lynda's Deming journey began when, shortly out of graduate school, she met Dr. Deming at one of his public seminars.  From that point she has been helping spread his ideas through her own consulting company and her work with The Deming Institute.

She starts by sharing some of the hardest things for people to grasp about the Deming philosophy.  Though it varies, Lynda finds it's most difficult when Deming's ideas don't align with the practices people feel have contributed their success.

The episode centers on why organizations should be plotting their data on charts rather than just using spreadsheets.  She feels that if the number is important enough to have on a table, then it should be important enough to see it in its proper context. 

Lynda outlines the mistakes people make if they aren't charting their data, starting with not caring enough to see what the data is telling them. The most important reason for charting data is so that everyone sees the same thing and can come to a common conclusion about what's happening and how to improve.  How can you "see" what the data's telling you if you don't make a picture of it?

Direct download: DemingEpisode26.m4a
Category:Interviews -- posted at: 2:24pm PST

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 PST

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 PST

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 PST

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 PST

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 PST

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 PST

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 PST