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Sep 12, 2023

In this episode, Bill Bellows and host Andrew Stotz talk about resource management in a non-traditional sense. Bill explains how managing the variation and integration in your product or service is just as important as increasing consistency and removing waste. 


0:00:02.3 Andrew Stotz: My name is Andrew Stotz and I'll be your host as we continue our journey into the teachings of Dr. W. Edwards Deming. Today, I'm continuing my discussion with Bill Bellows, who has spent 30 years helping people apply Dr. Deming's ideas to become aware of how their thinking is holding them back from their biggest opportunities. The topic for today is episode nine, Resource Management. Bill, take it away.


0:00:28.9 Bill Bellows: Thank you, Andrew. And thanks for our audience and thanks for joining in again. So we're picking up following episode nine, which was, I called it the Paradigms of Variation. It was, I think the title on the podcast may be a little bit different, but what we've been building up to from the beginning is, parallel tracks. But one aspect that I've been trying to bring forward is this idea of variation in the white beads. We talked about the white bead experiment and the idea that the red beads are not caused by the workers, they're caused by the system.


0:01:13.5 BB: And then what if we got to the point that there were no more red beads? Yes, we can make the red beads faster, we can make the red beads cheaper, but could we make, I'm sorry, we can make the white beads faster. We can make the white beads cheaper with the elimination of the red beads, but if we're dealing with nothing but white beads that are cheaper and made faster, can we improve the quality of the beads? And what I found is, when I press on people, they'll say, "Yes, everything can be improved. Everything can be improved. When I press, press, press, they'll say faster. They'll say cheaper. I said, "Yeah, we said that." I said, "But can they be better?"


0:01:53.4 BB: Is that what Dr. Deming's trying to say with continuous improvement that we stop it a 100% white beads? Or can we go further? And I find people get stuck. And I think it's very easy to get stuck, because that's the world we live in of good parts and bad parts. We focus on the bad to make them good. And what do they do when they're good? Well, they met requirements. But what's missing is this key word called variation. And yes, there's variation in the red beads and Dr. Deming would plot that on a control chart. But Dr. Deming also discovered in, definitely in 1960, from Dr. Taguchi who he met a few years earlier, this notion of variation in the white beads and that the, so I talked earlier also about question number one and quality management.


0:02:44.0 BB: Does this quality characteristic meet requirements? There's only two answers, remember Andrew, yes or no. But then question number two is how many ways are there to meet requirements? And I'd say there's an infinite number if you take into account, how many decimal places you can go. And that, the idea that you can have anywhere from the absolute minimum to the absolute maximum of the requirements is there's all those places be in between. That's called variation. And does it matter where you are within spec? Within spec? And again, by spec I mean specification. You've met the requirements for the activity. And so what we did in episode nine, I'm sorry, episode eight is look at what I call the Two Distribution exercise. And you may have caught me saying there are four suppliers.


0:03:41.7 BB: And at the end I said, forget about the four. There's actually two. I've done it with four, I've done it with two but the important thing is when I show people a number of distributions within requirements, and one of them will be, we'll go from the minimum to the maximum with near zero and frequency at either end to then high in the middle. And I'll say, "The middle is the ideal value." And then I'll say, let's say you also have a really narrow distribution consuming, and I said, last time, 10% of the variation, what I meant to say, and I said at least once, is 10% of the tolerance that, so you're using a very small portion of the tolerance, but you're far away from the ideal value.


0:04:27.0 BB: You're shifted to the right. And so when I give people the choice of buying from one of those two suppliers under the idealized situation, you may recall, Andrew, of same price, same schedule, everything's guaranteed to meet requirements. We've got histograms, we've got control charts. The processes are in control with all those, what Ackoff would call idealized situations. Make it really, really simple. Do I go with the wide one centered on the ideal value or the narrow one over to the right? And time again, people take the really narrow one, which we said was about, why do you like the really narrow one? Because they're more consistent. Then I explained that that's precision. And that's the most popular answer. And I'm reminded of that every time I use the exercise. Within the last few days, I've used it again.


0:05:19.6 BB: And that narrow one gets people's attention. What I find really fascinating is if the goal is to meet requirements, then why is the answer not, I'll take either one of them, which was one of the choices. You could take the wide one in the middle that covers the entire, or the narrow one. Why does it matter? Why not say in the world of meeting requirements, what's the driver behind the narrow one? Why don't people say it doesn't matter anymore? And I think because there's something about variation and consistency. I was talking with somebody the other day and they said, "Being consistent is, that's everything in terms of quality." And I said, "Not quite. Not quite." What... And this will become the focus of a later episode, that you could, ideally you could put the variation where you want it to be along the ideal and end up with improved what?


0:06:18.4 BB: The answer is improved integration. Because the very simple model we use in organizations is that if the parts are good, whether it's two parts, three parts, four parts, number of parts going together, you have to have at least two. And I say if the parts are good, then they fit. That's the model. If the parts are good, then they fit, then is there anything wrong with that model? And people are like, "No, that's the model we use." If the parts are good, then they fit. Now, if you're developing an airplane or a rocket engine, you've got a wing and a fuselage, then you've got all the parts to make the wing, all the parts to make the fuselage, all the parts that do these separate components, you could say the same thing for a play. You have all the elements of the first act, all the elements of the second act, and then you put them together for the entire play. So the point is that what I'm talking about is that integration is not black and white.


[overlapping conversation]


0:07:23.2 AS: What... Just... Can you define integration just so we can make sure we understand it?


0:07:27.5 BB: Yeah. Integration is when I'm going to put the cap onto the bottle of water. That's integration. The cap is good, the bottle is good. Now I'm trying to put the cap, which is good, and the bottle, which is good, and I'm trying to put the cap onto the bottle.


0:07:46.0 AS: Okay.


0:07:46.5 BB: Yeah. That's integration. Or I'm trying to put the, I'm trying to put two parts of something together. I'm trying to put the cap on top of the pen. What I love about water bottles as a prop is wherever I'm presenting, someone in your room will have a water bottle. And I'll say, can I use this as a prop? Sure. And I say, if all the requirements for the cap are met, what do we say about the cap? It's good. And if all the requirements for the bottle are met, what do we say about the bottle? It's good. Then I'll say, see what we're doing? We're managing parts in isolation. We're saying the cap is good, the body is good. Then I say, why don't we focus on how well the cap mates with the bottle? And I had a co-worker once said, well, if the cap is good and the bottle is good, then won't it fit. Fit as in absolute fit, right?


0:08:39.7 BB: Not relative fit ‘cause remember in early episodes we talked about black and white thinking versus shades of gray thinking. Good versus bad is black and white. Fit is black and white. It fits or it doesn't. What I'm talking about Andrew, is the idea that there's variation in good and the variation in good cap, and the variation in the good bottle show up when I go to put the cap onto the bottle. Because if the, if the outer diameter of the bottle is on the high side and the cap, inner diameter is on the low side, then I'm gonna have trouble putting the cap onto the bottle, ‘cause one's too small, one's too large. Boom. And, so what I'm trying to imply, [chuckle] not what I'm trying to imply. What I'm stating is fit is not absolute.  It's relative. Integration, which is about fit, is relative. And I don't, did we talk Andrew about a hundred percent…?


0:09:41.1 AS: Wait a minute. You gotta say that again. I didn't catch that. I know many of our listeners are a little faster than me. But say that again about relative versus...


0:09:56.6 BB: Okay, so what I'm saying is the fundamental model we're using is if the cap is good of the water bottle and the bottle is good, then the cap will fit onto the bottle. It'll fit when you go to...


0:10:05.7 AS: Yep.


0:10:07.8 BB: Put the, put it on it fits just like that. What I'm talking about…


0:10:12.1 AS: And when you say fit, are you using that as a general term in a system or are you just talking specifically about the cap?


0:10:17.8 BB: No, no, I'm really, I'm glad you brought this up. What the suggestion is that fit, there's only one degree of fit. It goes together you know with a, technically what we're talking about is how much torque is required to screw it on, how much force is required. And so fit is about how much force is required to screw it on. And the implication behind them being good and fit is that they always fit the same. So the model is that parts that are good fit together the same way each time. And that's not the case. So there's a... And I, one of my first exposures to this was reading a book by David Kearns and I mentioned this, I don't know which episode. And I said that Frank Pipp, an assembly plant manager at this Ford factory had his assembly team routinely buy competitor's cars and put them together.


0:11:19.4 BB: Because at the Ford plant, most of the time when they're putting parts together, they needed rubber mallets to bang them together because they didn't quite fit. And, so they needed help. And the help was the hammers to bang them together and out. Every now and then two parts went together without a hammer. That means fit is easy as opposed to hammers, which means fit is difficult. So imagine you've got everything between I can put them together, with little effort at all to I need a hammer to bang them together. That's degrees of fit, which I'm saying Andrew is degrees of integration.


0:12:00.4 AS: Okay.


0:12:01.2 BB: And, so the point I was trying to, what got me excited about Taguchi's work and then really excited when I saw Dr. Deming realizing it, is that when I came across this a hundred percent snap fit Toyota pickup truck story account, I thought, well, holy cow. And I found in listening to these podcasts that I use a expression quite a bit.


0:12:24.1 AS: Holy cow cow, holy spicoli.


0:12:26.3 BB: Holy... Holy cow, Andrew [laughter] But what was cool is this Ford plant has discovered that Toyota, where I know Dr. Deming had some influence, but some influence, okay, what influence? that's a whole ‘nother topic, but I know Taguchi had an influence there. So I'm looking at that with my understanding of variation and thinking, that's incredible. And brought that awareness to my coworkers at Rocketdyne. And we developed, with, I provided the education, they provided the hands-on go make it work. They developed hardware that went together beautifully. And why is this important, Andrew? And this is one of the things we got to in the end of the last podcast is if you would like your customers to have products that go together easily if they're assembling it or going together means that it, this product fits well with how they use it.


0:13:22.7 BB: That the car starts each time or the stopwatch, whatever they're using, works really well, which means there's degrees of performance. That's what excites me about the idea that if we can pay attention to the variation, we can either have designs that require hammers to assemble or we can design them to go together well. And, and all of this is to say that's what prompted me to get people excited by the paradigms of variation to get them to better understand that a mindset of meeting requirements is different from a mindset of precision, which is different from a mindset of accuracy. And what I've just repeated is Paradigm A is meet requirements. Get the darts somewhere on the dartboard. Meet requirements be anywhere within the requirements. Paradigm B is this idea that we're striving for consistency, incredible uniformity, otherwise known as, as precision.


0:14:30.7 BB: And, and there may be a place for that. But what Dr. Taguchi's talking about is different than that, that's precision is Paradigm B. Paradigm C is trying to be close to target. So that's taken the distribution, which is precise, and then finding a way to adjust it to be on the bullseye. And what does that gain us, Andrew? That, well, first of all, I would say when we're working at home looking for, working on the recipe, trying to get exactly one cup of flour, exactly 350 degrees, exactly one hour in the oven.  As we pay attention to how close we are to those values, chances are we're gonna end up with an incredible product. And that's, we're trusting that the person who developed the recipe has done that.


0:15:23.2 BB: But so whether it is woodworking or working on any project, it could be making things out of cloth where you're, you’re putting together some outfit out of cloth that my father used to do for my sister when he was in the textile business. That is about the idea that things come together well is about accuracy in improving integration. And that's what I find the Deming philosophy offers an understanding of what does it take to inspire an organization where, where it takes the people working on their different elements, not to meet the requirements any way they choose, but to meet requirements in a - ready Andrew - synchronous way. So you and I are on the soccer pitch, and it's not about your position, it's about my position and your position on defense that we're trying to win the World Cup.


0:16:25.2 AS: Yeah.


0:16:26.4 BB: And so all of that is about the Paradigms of Variation. Go ahead, Andrew. You were gonna say.


0:16:29.0 AS: You referenced sports and I was just thinking about how easily we work together in team activities, team sports that are just, clearly great teams are the ones that integrate each individual's doing their own personal work and they're doing training and they're improving themselves, and then they're practicing together. How do we bring this together into an integrated system that then wins?


0:16:54.9 BB: That's right. And so when you say bring together, that's what integration is. It's bring together, right? And we're looking, we we're screened a bunch of candidates on the phone, now we bring them in for face-to-face interviews. What are we looking for? Why isn't it enough that they meet the requirements that are on the website? We wanna know which of these potential employees is the best fit with our team, whether it's to play first base, or play senior researcher. Are they a fit? They may be very consistent in what they do, but is that consistency...I mean, they have to be, their consistency has to mesh what we want. So they may be consistently tardy, they may be consistently dominating the meeting, but what we want them to do is fit into the meeting.


0:17:50.0 AS: And the other thing that I always think about when I hear you talking about this stuff is, I think about when I was younger, when Lexus came out, if you remember Lexus, when they first...


0:18:01.8 BB: Absolutely.


0:18:02.5 AS: Launched...


0:18:02.5 BB: Oh yeah.


0:18:03.7 AS: Their great video or the great advertising was stacked up champagne glasses...


0:18:09.5 BB: Yes, yes.


0:18:11.6 AS: Onto the hood of this car. And then they lifted the wheels off the ground and then, or not off the ground, but like they had a roller that they were rolling it on, and then they revved that car up to as fast as it could possibly go, and those glasses did not fall. And you know the only way you can get that is by improving not only each individual part, but how those parts work together with the end result being less vibration, less friction.


0:18:39.9 BB: Yes.


0:18:41.1 AS: All of those things.


0:18:42.0 BB: Yes. Exactly.


0:18:42.5 AS: And you couldn't do it by just improving one part.


0:18:45.6 BB: That's right. And that's a great example because together you've got minimum vibration. That's not an accident. That's they have figured out how those things come together to have an incredible product, which is consistently, it works consistently. But the consistency, there's nothing wrong with consistency. Consistency is not the issue. But it, the issue is is the consistency we're talking about striving for precision or accuracy. So a car that consistently doesn't start is consistent, but that's not helpful. I want a car that consistently starts, right? I wanna be consistent around... I want you to bring your consistency in concert with others' consistency where those consistencies matter, you know? And if we don't need you to be consistent, then that's okay. Then we save money by having lack of consistency because why have consistency if you don't need it? But all of that's about...


0:19:50.6 AS: It's hard. It's hard. Consistency is hard and fit is hard.


0:19:55.4 BB: Yes. And, and, and, to build upon what you just said, consistency is about managing variation as a system. And so, another thing I wanna point out, and I got some comments from some friends about, you know, the last podcast.  The Paradigms of Variation are about the paradigms of white bead variation. So, so, Paradigm A is we've got variation within the requirements and, and is that okay? Is it enough to have variation in requirement? It doesn't matter where we are? That's Paradigm A. Paradigm B is precision. We're consistent, but we're not around the ideal. That's accuracy. And then paradigm D is....and I was searching for the word, the expression Dr. Taguchi used. He calls that Technology Development, that we're developing an advanced technology for use in... And I, the example I used last time is, let's say we're fac…we’re developing a new way of making tubes for plumbers to use.


0:21:07.6 BB: And I said in the beginning let's say we just have one inch outer diameter tubes, and that's Paradigm C because everything we make is one inch outer diameter tubes. And then somebody comes along in our research labs and comes up with a novel way to make tubes of different sizes. That's variety. So they can make them down to quarter of an inch, half an inch outer diameter. And then what we're doing with what Paradigm D is about is developing the technology that allows us to be really accurate around all these different values. That's what Dr. Taguchi calls Technology Development. I called it Paradigm D, he called it Technology Development. And in the world of sports, we talk about sports. That's the ability of the soccer player to kick the ball, or I should say a football player. [laughter] To put the ball anywhere in the net during at any time. Whether it's...


0:22:03.6 AS: That's within spec.


0:22:05.4 BB: Yeah, it's so the goalkeeper goes one way and they can hit any point in there. Because if you come up and the goalkeeper knows, oh, here comes Andrew, Andrew's gonna go to the lower left 'cause that's all he knows how to do. But you don't think I know that as your opposing goalkeeper. I know Andrew, Andrew's gonna fake, but I know what Andrew's gonna do. So the Paradigm D is in sports is the ability to move the ball around. If you're the pitcher, if you're the tennis player, and that's how you become a professional athlete, is that ability to move it around. That's Paradigm D. So, years ago, and this, I was developing this and sharing this, refining it with co-workers.


0:22:44.4 BB: And I was at a Deming Institute conference. True story, in Washington DC with Tim Higgins, a co-worker, and got a call from a really good friend, Jim. So Jim calls up and Jim was in this professional development program within Boeing doing a lot of travel. Every time he called, he was somewhere different in the country doing some really cool stuff in this incredible program to develop next generation leaders. And he definitely fit the mold. So he calls me up and he says, so he says, Dr. Bellows, have you discovered Paradigm E yet?




0:23:17.9 BB: I said, Jim, there is no E. He said, yeah, there's letter A, there's letter B, there's letter C, there's letter D. Oh, so there's also E. I said, Jim, A meets requirements, B is consistency anywhere, C is being on target, D is being on any target. I said, there's nowhere else to go. I said that we've run out. He said, we haven't run out of letters. [laughter] So I said, so he pushed on me and I pushed back. He pushed on me. We literally pushed on each other because I kept saying, Jim, you're you... Let's find another topic. No, no, no, no. I wanna hear about Paradigm E. And then it dawned on me, and I can remember it like it happened yesterday.


0:23:58.8 BB: And every time I have lunch with him, I say, Jim, I give him a big hug because I could not explain with the Paradigms of Variation, why would I pick up a nail in the parking lot, right? Why would I pick up a piece of glass in a parking lot? '‘Cause I viewed that as minimizing loss to society, that if I pick up the nail, prevent the flat tire, pick up the piece of glass, prevent the flat tire. I am, to quote Dr. Taguchi, "minimizing loss to society." But I don't know how to put that into his loss function, which is a subject of an of a future episode. And the idea of the loss function is there's an ideal value somewhere within the requirements. And the closer we are to the ideal value, the better the integration, and therefore the easier the effort.


0:24:55.2 BB: And, so now I'm stuck trying to say, so Jim's poking me, and I'm thinking, I'm stuck trying to explain everything through Dr. Taguchi's loss function, which is looking at the impact of variation relative to meeting requirements. And it dawns on me, and what Jim is saying is, I'm stuck in the world of variation. And, so when he, as he pushed and pushed and pushed, and it dawned on me that there's another whole world called managing, not... There's managing resources. I'm sorry, managing variation is Paradigms A, B, C, and D. What Jim got me to do that he called Paradigm E, and later we called it Resource Management, he realizes variation is a resource. Variation is a result of how we define our processes. There's managing cost.


0:25:52.3 BB: What is the cost of what we're doing? How much time is required? So, I look at resources as all the things we have in our organization from people to equipment to software to hardware and tools and techniques. Those are all resources. And picking up a piece of glass in the parking lot is a way of managing resources to improve the system, just as being on target is a way to improve how resources are managed. I started, I just jumped back and thought, holy cow, it's bigger than variation. And I think Dr. Deming really had this in mind. It's not just about variation, it's about the system includes variation, but it also has resources. Again, people, time, ideas, money. How do we use our money? That's a resource.


0:26:39.4 BB: Are we using, 'cause the other thing that was bugging me was are we using our money to improve things that are good? No, we're using our money and our time and our resources to focus on what is bad to make it good. And so that's what started off as Paradigm E then became Resource Management. So that's the genesis for Paradigm E. Managing resources is, should I get a college education, right? Should I exercise? How often should I go to the doctor, right? How often should I go shopping for groceries? Should I go shopping every day on my way home or should I go once a week? Those are resource management questions. Should I have a garden in my backyard? Should I buy the groceries? What's a better use of my time when I'm running errands?


0:27:33.2 BB: So on Saturday morning, I'm gonna run out and I'm gonna pick up the dry cleaning, go to the drug store, go to the veterinarian, pick up something for the cats. Do I do each of those randomly, come home and I say, what do I do next? Or Andrew, do I line up the errands and figure out what time the store opens? When do the lines occur? What time does traffic start to pick up? Am I making right-hand turns or left-hand turns? And I find what I do is I'm trying to figure out how do I get all these things done as fast as possible? And that directs my route. What I'm I doing, Andrew? I'm managing resources.


0:28:11.7 AS: And you remind me of the book I'm reading right now, Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.


0:28:16.8 BB: Yes, I listened to it, it's fantastic.


0:28:18.9 AS: Yeah, and there's just these times that Steve Jobs would just go into an absolute focus into some minute detail that all the people around were thinking that, and rightly so in some cases, that he was wasting resources, the resource of time. But there was another component that I think they couldn't see maybe was the passion that he was conveying to people around them that this matters.


0:28:48.0 BB: Yes, well, I don't know if this story shows up on that book, but that book was a fantastic read, oh I just loved it. Do you know the subject of Walter Isaacson's next biography? I don't know when it's due, but the very next auto, biography that Walter Isaacson is doing, take a guess who it is?


0:29:07.7 AS: No idea.


0:29:08.4 BB: Elon Musk.


0:29:10.9 AS: Oh, great.


0:29:12.7 BB: Yeah, yeah. So I think Fortune Magazine had an article that Jobs, well, first of all, let's go back, let's say 15, 20 years when I would go into work with others and we'd turn on our computers and then go get a cup of coffee. You know what I'm talking about, Andrew? You know where I'm coming from?


0:29:35.4 AS: I remember that very well.


0:29:37.8 BB: And why are we going to get our coffee, Andrew?


0:29:41.1 AS: Man, it takes minutes to boot up.


0:29:43.1 BB: Yes, so because we're going to go, we gotta turn on the computer and it's going to take minutes, five, 10 minutes. And for those of you that are, I mean, really, now we're so used to turning on the iPhone and it comes right up. Yeah if you shut off the iPhone, it may take 30 seconds to turn on, but you start your computer and it, from scratch and it's within 30 seconds, your computer's up and running. No, what we're talking about, Andrew, is you go into the office, turn on the computer, go get a cup of coffee, talk with some friends, you come back in 10 minutes, your computer's up.


0:30:18.9 BB: So Jobs supposedly went to people that were working on that boot-up system and told them that if we could shave a few seconds off of the boot-up time, multiplied by the million or so users around the world, we can save society big numbers. And the person that went off and did this, or the team that went off and did it, went way beyond what he was talking about, but he's the one, he Andrew, saw that as a loss. All right, so when you're banging things together at the Ford plant and I come in on day one and, Andrew, what are you doing? You're like, and you're banging things together. I said, "Andrew, why are you doing that?" And you say, "Bill, this is how we assemble cars here." I said, "Andrew, look at those calluses on your hand." You're thinking, "Bill, you'll get used to it, but this is how we put things together." In the world of automobiles, this is how you do it, Bill." And I think, "Geez, I don't think it needs to be done that way." And what's fundamental here is, and again, the whole idea of the loss function, the integration loss function, we'll look at in a future episode, but what I want to point out here, Andrew, is if I believe you that banging it together with hammers is as good as it gets, then there is no loss.


0:31:51.6 BB: Meaning that as soon as I say that's as good as it gets and I stop, then I'm saying that this is how we do things here. But if I come in and look at that with an understanding of Taguchi's work and how to manage variation as a system or manage resources as a system, I have the capacity to look at that and say, as Jobs did, and say, "I think it can be better." And the difference between what it is and what it could be is loss. But as long as I look at what we do and say, "That's it, let's stop right here." Then what I'm saying is... What I'm acknowledging is that, that's okay. And so what I was looking for within Rocketdyne and got the president of the company to agree to this is finding some people that I was mentoring for several years and their role was to go around the organization and look for loss.


0:32:54.8 BB: And, loss is the ability…Ready Andrew, to look at what is in terms of integration and wonder what could be. And then look at the components and then ask, "Can we change the variation of the components to improve integration?" And of course, the big question is, is it worth the effort? But it's having the vision that the integration and I think that's a great example. The integration is all that time we're spending waiting is not only is it lost, but that's integration time. [laughter] Bingo. So, the next thing I wanna point out before we close is... So this conversation with my friend Jim got me out of being stuck on the loss function and then stepping back and saying that's... There's... It's a global thing. It's all about managing resources, which also means it's more than quality. It's not managing quality, it's managing resources.


0:33:51.8 BB: And if we improve how we manage resources, quality goes up, integration improves, all these things improve. Well, the next thing I wanna point out is, I started thinking in terms of a model that says, how do we allocate our resources? Again, resources are time, energy, equipment, software, ideas. How are we using them? And the first model I had in mind was, are we applying... Are we allocating the resources proactively or reactively? Are we applying the resources to go to the doctor for annual checkups just to see how we're doing. We're going to the dentist for an annual checkup. Are we having somebody come by and look at our plumbing system and getting a feeling for how is it running? Are we taking the car in for routine things. Or are we reactive? We call the plumber when it breaks, we go to the doctor when we're sick. We bring the car in when it's broken. And, so what I started focusing on is what is our preference? How are the resources being allocated?


0:34:55.6 BB: And, without a doubt, what I found is the majority of the resources, time, energy, equipment are being used reactively. Focusing on things that are broken, not good. And, and I would go into big production meetings and say, "How much time are we... How much time do you ladies and gentlemen spend every day discussing parts which are good that arrive on time?" And, no matter where I went, the answer was “little to none.” And, so what I found is the resources were being used reactively, reactively. Now, let me also throw in that if the company's doing research and developing, developing next generation products, that is proactive use of resources. But what I also found is for the products that are in production, rarely did anybody ever come to me for something in production and say, "This could be better."


0:35:52.0 AS: Mm-hmm.


0:35:53.1 BB: That's rare. So the other dimension of this model. So the first dimension... I was just... In fact... It wasn't till I discovered Taguchi, Deming's work that got me to realize this is focusing on things that are broken is the norm. It wasn't just where I work. I started to see that pattern play out elsewhere. Well, the other axis of this resource management model, so the vertical axis is... Are the resources being applied proactively or reactively? So that's let's say the vertical axis going up. Top versus bottom. The horizontal axis are, is are the resources mine or are they ours? Is it my equipment, my people, my department? Or is it ours, Andrew? And so on the horizontal axis, the left hand side is the resources are mine, my department, my, my, my... And the other side of the horizontal axis is ours.


0:36:53.1 BB: And so in this two dimensional model, the vertical axis is, are the resources applied proactively, that's the top. Reactively, that's the bottom. If you think of a two by two matrix, the top row is proactive, the bottom row is reactive. And then when it comes to columns, so the left hand column is the resources are mine. The right hand column is the resources are ours. So we've got a two by two matrix. And I say to people, so given your understanding of Red Pen and Blue Pen companies, me and we organizations, last straw, all straw. I say, according to that matrix, how do you see resources managed in a Red Pen Company, a non-Deming company? And people will say the lower left quadrant, which is what, which is my resources applied reactively. Right?


0:37:43.4 AS: Yep.


0:37:44.9 BB: And then I'll say, "Okay." [laughter] And the name for that is... And it took a while to come up with a name and you're gonna love this. We started calling that at Rocketdyne, Reflexive Resource Management. Reflexive Resource Management. Because a wise man, born in Iowa in 1900, Andrew [laughter], by the name of W. Edwards Deming, once said, pulling your hand off of a hot stove requires no thought. It's all reflex action. When I saw him and that, I don't know where it was, I said, but I know he said that. And I thought, that's it. It's all reflexes. There's no thought involved. Why are we reactive? Because! I mean, why would I be proactive? I mean, why would I work? So when I started realizing is there's no thought involved in being reactive in a Red Pen Company. It's just that's what we do. So then the question is, well, how are resources managed in a Blue Pen Company? A We Organization, a Deming organization. And, what people will say is the upper right quadrant, which is proactive ours, the resources are ours.


0:38:56.1 BB: We're gonna be proactive. And wherever I go, that's people's answers. And I say, you, are you ready? And okay, what? I say, the entire right hand side is a Deming organization. What does that mean? It means I'm smart enough to know when to be proactive, and I'm smart enough to know when to be reactive. I choose, I choose to replace the light bulb when it goes out, it's a choice. Or I choose to replace the battery in the smoke alarm when it goes out. I, being reactive in a Deming organization is a choice. Being proactive is a choice. And so the right hand side, it's about choice. And it took some time to figure this out. What do we call that? What do we call this? So we call it the left hand side, the left lower left quadrant, Reflexive Resource Management. So it took a while to find out what's the adjective for the right hand side.


0:39:55.6 BB: And I come up with an adjective, find out that it's an acronym used by somebody for something else. No, can't use that. Try it again. Try it again. Try it again. Try it again. Try it again. It took about an hour to, at least an hour and finally came up with a term used by the Bureau of Land Management in the late 1800s. And it, and it's, it was known as Purposeful Resource Management. And I thought, bingo! One is nobody's got a trademark on it, [laughter] And so we started calling the deliberate use of resources to be deliberately proactive, or we choose to be proactive, or we choose to be reactive. We started calling that purposeful, thoughtful resource management.


0:40:45.5 AS: Yeah, that choice. It made me think about there's a lot of things in business that you just, your choice is to be reactive. When that breaks, we're gonna fix that because it's not so critical, whereas we cannot have a situation where we're reacting to this particular process. Like, think about my coffee business as an example. We cannot be reactive to downtime on the roasting machines. Well, we're not just waiting for that. We're doing preventive maintenance. We've got stocks.


0:41:17.7 BB: That's right.


0:41:18.5 AS: Stock of parts. We've got, so we make a deliberate effort and resource allocation to make sure we never in that situation, but there's other parts. Let's say we have a few grinders and something like that, we'll fix those when they break. [laughter]


0:41:35.0 BB: Yeah. Well, I've shared this with a woman who, the hairstylist I go to. My kids used to go there and I've been going there ever since. And she is awesome. Just awesome. So I, these are the things I discussed with her, all kinds of things. And so I have a photograph of her, Andrew, holding a hairdryer in her hair salon. And the hair salon is called Kids Cuts because a good part of her business is kids. And then people like me bring the kids in there and next thing you know, I'm a customer, too. Well, so I'm explaining this to me and she says, "Bill, every 6 months I get rid of all the hair dryers". I said, why? She says, "I cannot afford to burn somebody's hair". And so, so I've got a photo of her holding it, so she doesn't monitor how it's performing.


0:42:24.1 BB: She just knows 6 months, get rid of it now. You know, does she donate it? I don't know where it goes. And I don't wanna get into recycling, but she deliberately, she's not gonna burn somebody's hair.


0:42:35.0 AS: Right.


0:42:38.1 BB: Alright. And, what else? Oh, but you and I talked earlier in one of the episodes, this idea of choice, that instead of following the domain that says you can't have inventory, we gotta have blah, blah, blah, you realize this? No, we can choose to have inventory, or we can choose not to have inventory. And so what we're talking about in resource management is, which gets into all those things we talked about earlier, is it's about choices. And so I would say to people, I've got a slide, then I say, it's like you get to the end of the road and you turn right and turning right is being reactive.


0:43:21.3 BB: And I say, Andrew, I've been patterning you, and you get to the end of the road and you turn right, you're always reactive. Why do you turn right? And you say, "Bill, there's only a right-hand turn". And I said, "No, Andrew, there's a left-hand turn, but you can't see it. It's in your blind spot". So the right hand turn is to focus on what's bad, to make it good, what Ackoff would also call managing actions. And that's the road that's well traveled, [laughter], the road less traveled is the left-hand turn, which is to be proactive, again, when it makes sense. I'm not saying being proactive all the time, I'm saying there's a place for it. Consider being proactive, consider being reactive.


0:44:04.0 AS: So, on that note, I think we ought to leave. Why don't you leave the listeners and the viewers with a concise statement of what you want them to take away from this discussion. We went through a lot of different things, but if you wanna bring it down to something clear and concise, how would you describe that?


0:44:24.5 BB: I'd say the, um…I'd like, I'd encourage our listeners, viewers, students of the Deming philosophy, those new to it, to expand their appreciation of quality management and realize that to managing resources period. And the better we manage our resources in our organization, knowing when to collect data, when not to collect data, when to meet requirements, when to be on target with minimum variation, when having lots of variation. Should we be proactive or re…. These are all choices. And they're, and I think the better we understand those choices about how we manage variation as a system in concert, I think the better the performance of the organization and improving productivity, improving quality, improving profit. So I think all those things we're striving for come from a better understanding of how to manage resources. And so instead of just being narrowly focused on the quality dimension, I think if we step back and realize that that's one aspect of how an organization operates.


0:45:42.4 AS: Bill, on behalf of everyone at the Deming Institute, I want to thank you again for this discussion. And for listeners, remember to go to to continue your journey. If you want to keep in touch with Bill, just find him on LinkedIn. This is your host, Andrew Stotz. And I'm gonna leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Dr. Deming, "People are entitled to Joy in work."