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Feb 6, 2024

In this episode, Bill Bellows and host Andrew Stotz talk about where and how to start using your new knowledge when you're learning Deming. 


0:00:02.1 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 in episode 15 is Start Where You Are. Bill, take it away.


0:00:25.0 Bill Bellows: Thank you, Andrew. And for our audience, you may notice there's a different background. This is not a green screen. This is actually a bedroom at my in-laws in upstate New York. Hey, Andrew, I've been listening to some of the podcasts, and I've collected some data on each of them. Would you like to see it?


0:00:53.0 AS: Yeah, definitely.


0:00:54.2 BB: I've got a control chart, I've got a control chart for each of the 14 sessions for how many times I say, holy cow.


0:01:02.9 AS: Holy moly.


0:01:04.4 BB: In each episode. Yeah, and the process is stable. [laughter] So I say holy cow, I think the average is 2.2, and the upper control limit is... I'm just kidding.


0:01:25.4 AS: You're a sick man.


0:01:27.7 BB: But I think outside of this podcast, I don't know if I use that expression. And I don't know where it comes from, I just, it must be...


0:01:37.7 AS: Did you grow up around cows? You said you're near where you grew up.


0:01:44.4 BB: Yeah, I am staying at my wife's sister's place. And my wife's father, when I met her, had cows in his backyard. And we used to chase the cows. When they got out, we would chase them. And let me tell you, they move fast. [laughter] And I came down several times, severe cases of poison ivy, trying to herd this one cow that was always escaping. And I thought, oh, I'll tell my father, let me go out and I can scare this cow back. Now, no the cow got the best of me. I got covered with mud and went home with poison ivy. Those things, they move fast. So that's my only personal experience with cows. [laughter]


0:02:33.5 AS: Did the cows ever go to a nearby church?


0:02:38.9 BB: No.


0:02:39.2 AS: To become holy.


0:02:40.1 BB: That's a good point? I don't... Yeah, how do those words tie together? I don't know.


0:02:43.4 AS: I don't know.


0:02:45.4 BB: I have to go find out who I got that from. So what I thought we'd talk about today is this, Start Where You Are, Start Where You Are. And first share where I... One context for that expression was the first time I saw Russ Ackoff speak, well, first where I met Russ. I had seen him speak before at a Deming conference, but I didn't get a chance to talk with him. But I saw him a few years later, and he was doing a one-day program in Los Angeles as part of a management series that he would do around the country. And there are about, I don't know, 150 people in the room, 25-30 from across Boeing sites in Southern California that I had invited. And at the end of the day, with about an hour to go, Russ says, okay, I'm going to give you a break. I'm going to give you time to formulate some questions and we'll spend the last hour discussing wherever you want to go. Well, I took the time to go up to Russ and ask him a couple of questions. I had met him earlier in the day. He knew that most people in the audience were there from across Boeing and that I had arranged them.


0:04:06.3 BB: And so I had a chance to talk with him. So I went up and said, I said I've got two questions for you that are not relevant to the audience, but I'd like to ask you one-on-one. He said, sure, go ahead. Well, no, I said knowing that you've known Dr. Deming for, since the early '50s, I said, over that period of time, what do you think he would say he learned from you that would stand out? And vice versa, what did you learn from him over those years that you would say stands out? And he looks at me and he says, well, I don't, I don't know what he learned from me. Then he says, then he answers the question and he says, he says, I think Ed, and he liked to say Ed, 'cause he liked to brag that, yeah, everybody calls him Dr. Deming. I call him Ed. I've known him since 1950.


0:05:05.2 BB: But Russ, by the comparison, if I ever introduced him to you as Dr. Ackoff, he would say, Andrew, call me Russ. So he says, relative to what he learned, what Dr. Deming learned from him, first he says, "well, I don't know what he learned from me. But I think his understanding of systems is very implicit and I helped him develop a better explicit understanding." And I think that makes a lot of sense. I think Dr. Deming's understanding of systems is a lot of what he talks about in The New Economics is what he learned from Russ. It's a very, I think you know when Dr. Deming shared the Production as a Viewed as a System that flow diagram in 1950, he always talks about systems, what comes around, goes around. But Russ was a master at systems from an academic perspective, and that was not Dr. Deming's forte. Now, when it comes to variation, that was Dr. Deming's academic forte. And that's where I would find Russ's understanding of variation, I would find to be very implicit, whereas Deming's was explicit. But anyway, he said he thought it gave him a better understanding of systems, that it was very implicit, very intuitive, and it helped him develop a better, a more academic sense of it. So I said, okay, so what did he learn... What did you learn from him? And he says, "well, I never gave that much thought to the whole quality movement.”


0:06:38.7 BB: “But he... I got a better, a warmer feeling of it." Russ would talk about quality of work life, and there's parallels with what Russ has talks about quality of work life that resemble Dr. Deming's work very well. And I'll give you one short story which ties in well with the Deming philosophy. Russ says he was at an Alcoa plant once upon a time, and he happened to be there on a day in which two workers were honored on stage in front of a bunch of coworkers with an award. Now, we both know what Dr. Deming thinks about giving people awards. So, but the fun part of the story is, Russ says he went up to these two guys afterwards, after they came down off the stage and he says, hey. And he says, and Russ was so precise with language. I mean, he walks up to these two guys and he says, ready Andrew? He says to them, I caught them at their point of maximum puffery. I mean, have you ever heard anyone use the word puffery...


0:07:56.7 AS: No.


0:07:57.1 BB: In a sentence? So he says, I walk up to these two guys and I said, I caught them at their point of maximum puffy. Right? And then he punctures them with the following question. "For how long have you two known about that idea that you were awarded for?" And they looked down at their feet and he said, "Come on, for, for how long have you had that idea before you shared it with management?" And they said, "20 years." And then Russ says, why did you wait so long to share it? And Russ says, he says to him, "Those sons of bitches never asked."


0:08:51.8 BB: And so, and Russ would talk about that as a quality of work life issue. Now, I've heard him tell that story many times, and I once asked him, I said, so what was the idea they came up with? And he said they would take these four foot wide rolls of aluminum foil off a machine, and these are the types of rolls that get used to make aluminum cans. And the roll may be, you know, so it's four foot tall. It's a, it could be easily a foot in outer diameter. And he said when they, when they're taken off a machine, they stand them on the concrete floor. And then to move them, the workers would tilt them back a little bit and then roll them.


0:09:43.9 AS: Which damages...


0:09:47.0 BB: The edge.


0:09:47.7 AS: Yeah.


0:09:47.8 BB: Exactly. So their idea was to, instead of putting them on a the concrete floor, to put them on a piece of plywood. So, what Russ saw was, which very much resembles a... The prevailing system of management where you're gonna wait 20 years before somebody asks you a question, until there's a program, until there's an award, then I'll come forward. All right, so let's go back to the audience. So I went up and asked Russ those questions, and now he is fielding questions from the audience. And one question really struck me and he says, Dr. Deming, not Dr. Deming, the guy says, "Dr. Ackoff," he said, "what you're talking about all day makes a lot of sense. And most organizations have little understanding of it, where you're just talking about, you know, managing interactions, the system, whatnot." He says, "but don't we have to wait for senior management to get on board before we do something with it?


0:10:54.2 BB: Don't we have to wait?" Right. And I'm listening to this, and I don't know what Russ is gonna say, but I'm hearing where the guy's coming from. And Russ turns right at him and he says, "Andrew, John, Sally, you have to start where you are." And I told him later, I said, I could've run up and given him a big hug, because if you're gonna sit back and wait for your management to get on board, you know how long that's gonna take? And so I just love that perspective of starting where you are. Now, let's flip to Dr. Deming, and a great quote that I like to use with students and clients with his work is "The smaller the system, the easier to manage. The bigger the system, the more complicated, but the more opportunities." Right? Now we'll go back to Russ.


0:11:54.0 BB: Russ would say, if you're a school teacher, like our daughter's an eighth grade teacher, start in your classroom. Why? Because you're not gonna start at the elementary school level or the junior high's, that's bigger than you. You're not gonna smart start smaller than that because then that's minimizing what your impact could be, but start where you are and then expand. Now, what that also means is it may be that when you start where you are, as you expand the size of the system, you might need to go back and change what you did now that you're looking at a bigger system.


0:12:37.8 BB: And so that's a great likelihood that what is optimum for you in the classroom may not be optimum when you're starting to think about the elementary school. But even if you start at the elementary school, what is optimum may not be optimum if you have the school district. So there's, no matter where you start, there needs to be an appreciation that in hindsight, what you did before may not be what's best for the bigger system. And the same thing applies when you're talking about integration. You know, Dr. Taguchi's loss function and the ideal value of a given characteristic, well, what I tell people is the ideal value depends upon the size of the system. And so if I'm designing two things to come together and I'm looking at the clearance between them, well, there's a clearance that makes it easy for these two things to come together if you're Andrew doing assembly. But let's say downstream of you is somebody who's using that product, you know, where that clearance is important, so the clearance that makes it easy to go together may not be the clearance that improves the functionality.


0:14:00.2 BB: And that will always be the case that you, that what is optimum where you are, may not be optimum when you expand the size of the system. So you have a few choices. One is, don't do anything. You know, for fear of making it worse, do nothing. Or, run a small scale experiment, use the PDSA model, try some things. But, that is still not a guarantee. 'Cause that small scale experiment still could be with me in my classroom and I run that experiment for a month, two months, three months.


0:14:44.4 BB: So even if I use that model, I can't know everything. And that's the... I mean, those are the complications of viewing things as a system, is to know that the system is not closed, it's open. I met a professor years ago at a conference and he had a model in his presentation that was very much a closed system. You know, they're working within this model, looking at these factors and these factors and these factors. And he went up after us. And I said, yeah, there's factors outside of that system. And he says, "Well, yeah, but we're just looking at this in scope." I said, "You have to frame it to a given size, but you know there's always the possibility that what's outside [chuckle] that you're not including, could haunt you for some time to come." And I didn't get the impression... I mean, it was almost like in engineering we talk about a free body diagram where you take whatever is your list you're looking at and you draw a line around it and you say, "That's the system I'm analyzing."


0:15:58.1 BB: But there's always a system which is bigger than that. And then again, bigger. So no matter where you start, again, and I look at the options are, if you're fearful of not including everything, well, then you're gonna do nothing. And that's easily what Deming and Ackoff were not saying. What they're saying is start where you are. Run experiments. Now, what I expect to be the beauty of a Deming-based organization, a "we" organization, is flexibility.


0:16:29.9 BB: And the flexibility is when things don't go as planned and we learn something, that we have the ability to reflect, note what we've learned, share it with as many people that we think could... would benefit from that. Get back on the horse and try again. I've worked with groups who were quite willing to do that. I worked with groups that were quite... They wouldn't get back on the horse. We were running some experiments dealing with hole machining of some small drills, you know, like on the order of a 16th of an inch, very small. And the experiment was, let's say eight... Seven different factors at two values each, eight experiments. And I don't know, they might've been machining in each experiment, 10 holes, say. And I wanted them to measure diameter of the top and the bottom of each hole, something like that.


0:17:29.3 BB: And I get the data prior to meeting with them. They sent me the data and I had enough experience running fractional factorial experimentation using Doctor Taguchi's ideas that upon first blush looking at the data, I either get a warm feeling or I get a queasy feeling. So in this case, I get a queasy feeling and there's... I'm looking at the data and immediately I knew this is... But I didn't know why. I just knew that, I'm not... And I'm wondering how am I gonna say this to them in the meeting? 'cause they're all excited. For a couple of them it wasn't their first study; they had done this before with great success. So I'm in the meeting and I'm listening and then one of them says, you know, in the experiment we're looking at starting each experiment with a new drill. And the experiments we're looking at different speeds of the drill, different cutting fluids, different parameters associated with machining these holes. And one of them says, they didn't... In hindsight, they didn't use a brand new drill for each experiment. So now I'm thinking, okay, say some more.


0:18:50.0 BB: Well, the drills we used in the experiment had all been used before and were resharpened to be like new, I mean, not new, but like new. And I said, "So say more." And then he said, "Well, when they looked at them under the microscope, the very tip of the drill was not in the center of the drill." 'Cause if you look at a drill, there's a cutting edge on the very top, you can say that near the left side or the right side. And those two cutting edges weren't the same length. So when the drill is cutting, it's not... The hole is not gonna be round, it's gonna have an oblong... So now I'm thinking, kind of explains the data. So he says, one of them say, "Can we salvage the data?"


0:19:45.3 BB: I said, no. And they said, why not? I said, because the assumption we had was that that the drills were reasonably the same. I mean, of course, even eight brand new drills are not identical, but now what you're telling me is the biggest source of variation is in the drills that we thought were the same. And that is wiping out the variation that we introduced. That's the issue, is that the signal coming from the drills that we didn't ask for is bigger than what we asked for. "So you mean we have to run all the experiments again?"


0:20:26.9 BB: And now they're, and I said, well, let me ask you this. So here's the good news. The good news is we didn't spend more time than we did on this experiment. That's the good news. I said, the good news is, we now know that the sharpening process needs to be relooked at. And as it turned out, probably the biggest thing we learned in the experiment, was that it ain't worth resharpening the drills. At that size, throw them away. But what I was hoping is that they would get back on the horse and go back to what we originally planned to do with eight brand new drills. It never happened. But we learned something, but what we learned is not what we had planned to learn. And that gets me to what I would tell people, is if you don't look, you won't find. But then you have to be willing to take the existing system and what is...


0:21:39.3 BB: Do anything, but that just means it stays the way... So if you don't look, you won't find. And if you do look, there's no guarantee. So that was a situation where I was very bummed. And every time, I mean, what I, one of the things I learned early on was preparing management and the team for such situations.


0:22:02.6 BB: That everybody was expecting, you know, a grand slam every single time. I said, no, that's not the way it works. In the real world, you try, you fail, you try, you fail, you learn, hey, you learn what we did here is that the sharpening process doesn't make sense. Had another experiment where, and I don't know which is, which was the bigger disappointment, but in the other one, there were 18 experiments with a lot of hard work, oh my God, and incredible precision as to how each of 1080 holes would be machines. So there were 1080 holes in a ring that was about eight feet in diameter. So there are holes about three tenths of an inch in this ring. The holes were all numbered one through 1080. Every hole had a different recipe. Somehow, the machinist wasn't informed of that.


0:23:08.5 BB: And the manufacturing engineer went to a meeting and he came back only to find out that the instructions, so machinists didn't know. And I said, "So, so what'd you learn?" He said "I learned not to go away to a meeting." So these things happen. Another thing I say in terms of starting where you are, my boss at one time knew I was involved in half a dozen to a dozen different Taguchi studies. And he calls me in one day and he says, "So how many studies are you working on?" I said, half a dozen to a dozen. He said, "Which of them is gonna have the biggest improvement?"


0:23:55.8 BB: So like the biggest... So I said, "So you mean like the biggest percent gain?" He says, "Yeah, which one's gonna have the biggest percent gain?" I said, "I guarantee you that we'll be smarter about everyone after we're done, I guarantee you that." He says, "But which one's gonna have the biggest percent improvement?"


0:24:17.2 BB: I looked straight at him, I said, if I knew the answer to that question, would I be working here? I'd be doing what you do, Andrew, I mean, financial forecasting. But he's like, "Well, don't give me that." I said, "I don't know which is gonna have the biggest gain, but I know we're going to be smarter. And I know all the things we try that don't have an improvement, we're smarter about it." But I said, "if you don't look, you won't try." So you have to start where you are. Another thing I want to point out is, and I wrote an article about this for the LEAN Management Journal, and if any of our listeners want a copy of the article, they can reach out to me on LinkedIn, and the article is about the, gosh, pragmatism. And viewing things with pragmatism.


0:25:15.3 BB: And I uh, and the possibilities of pragmatism, anyway, there was a lot of alliteration at the time, there was a lot of P's, 'cause what started dawning on me is this need to be practical, pragmatic. And I've got a dictionary definition, "pragmatic, dealing with things of sensibility, and dealing with things that are sensible and realistic in a way which is practical rather than theoretical," right? And where that comes from, in terms of starting where you are, is...


0:26:04.2 BB: Everyone is right. And there's a philosopher years ago that came across this. He says, everyone is right. And so everyone works in an organization where they believe, firmly believe that what they're doing is right, is practical, is pragmatic. And so in a non-Deming organization, would you work on things, Andrew, that are good and going well, that arrive on time, would you spend any time on those things, Andrew?


0:26:33.0 AS: No.


0:26:33.8 BB: And why not, Andrew?


0:26:37.0 AS: If it ain't broke, don't fix it.


0:26:42.1 BB: And that's very practical and pragmatic of you, isn't it?


0:26:46.6 AS: Exactly. I've got limited time. I gotta put out fires.


0:26:51.2 BB: Yeah. And that started to dawn on me, is that in a non-Deming "me" environment, working on things that are good doesn't add value. And so I thought, I mean, how do you argue with that? Now, in a Deming organization, it'd be pragmatic to work on the things that are not broken to either prevent them from breaking or to improve integration. And to not do so would not be practical. So there's two different environments of practicality depending on how you see the world. Um, oh, and last time I named the company, this time I'm not gonna name the company. So I was in an environment with a very well-known consultant.


0:28:00.6 BB: I was invited to travel with this consultant several times over a few years. I could take notes, I was given access to a lot of information on how these ideas were being used in the organization, but I can't talk about where it was, what they were doing, but it was really cool. So in one of the first scenarios, a team came in, led by this guy, and he presented to the consultant over the course of two hours a situation that he was dealing with. And teams would come meet with a consultant for a couple hours. This is one of the very first meetings, so that the engineer came in and said, here's where we are. We've got this issue. And the issue involved a commercial product with a... Let's just say, something about the product, how the customer interacts with it was very laborious. Let's just say like banging it together.




0:29:08.7 BB: It was very laborious. And the resulting warranty claims were on the order of $10-20 million a year in warranty claims. And the solution was kind of like giving the customer a bigger hammer, and actually along those lines. So that scenario was presented and that 10-20 billion at that time was a fraction of the total warranty claims for the company, which was on the order of 2-3 billion. So this was not the biggest issue, but it was a lot of $10-20 million issues. So the engineer proposes a solution, which I would paraphrase as: Spending, hiring someone to manage the variation in the parts that went together to mind the gap. And his theory was that if we minded the gap, we could make these things go together as the customer used it and get rid of all those warranty claims. So I'm thinking, hiring the person to collect the data because it definitely involved hiring someone to give them responsibility. Let's just say putting in place the use of control charts on the respective parts, minding the gap that, you know common cause variation and whatnot. So at that time I'm thinking, salary and benefits, that's maybe a $100,000. Saving the corporation $10 to $20 million. How's that sound, Andrew?


0:30:42.6 AS: Sounds good.


0:30:44.3 BB: Spent a $100,000, save $10 million. So the consultant says to the engineer, so what did the plant manager say? And he said, the plant manager says no. He said, why did the plant manager say no? He said, the plant manager said, why should I spend my budget to save the corporation?




0:31:08.4 BB: Now, if I told you the consultant's response, then you would know the name of the company. So I'm not gonna tell you what the consultant's response was other than the paraphrase would be, I thought you were looking at things as a system. Isn't that the company's slogan? He says, well, not quite. But if you're the plant manager, you're being practical. You're saying, why should I spend my budget to save the corporation? Does that get me promoted? Does that give me visibility or does it make my boss angry? In terms of starting where you are, this is a story you're gonna love. I had an intern one summer, his father was a coworker, he came to a class I was offering twice. 'Cause we allowed employees to bring family members and our vision was to get these ideas out there, fill the empty seats in the classroom. So one is we're filling empty seats, two is, the thought was if we bring in volunteers from the community, and that was a... The training was open to what we called members of the community. Members of the community are people who are working full-time, part-time to serve society. The fact that they work for, you know, General Electric or Lockheed Martin, that was not the issue.


0:32:28.1 BB: So you get to come in because you're a soccer referee, you're a Girl Scout leader, you sing in your church choir, we're gonna fill the empty seats. So this was not taking the space of employees. This is, we have employee space, we have customers, space for customers, place for suppliers, but we still have extra spaces. Let's fill those seats. Boeing's vision was to help the communities in which we live. So I went to my boss with this proposal and he said, go right ahead. And so the operational definition was we invited members of the community. A member of the community is someone who works full-time, part-time to benefit the community.


0:33:05.5 BB: So this, and also we invited family members. And so this guy brings his son in and it was an evening class and which, you know, second shift, which means it ends around midnight. And the one who came in, the son was a, graduated from high school two years early, one of the brightest people I've ever met in my life. And he's an economist by training. So he starts asking economic questions. And he brings up, because hears me talking about how, you know, this movement within Rocketdyne that moved from being a "me" to a "we" organization, the progress we're making, the improvements we're, you know, that we could at least properly talk about. And he says says in economic theory there's this thing called the freeloader principle. Have you heard of it? And I said, no. I said, how does that work?


0:34:00.8 BB: And he says, well, economists will talk about, there'll be people that do the work, and then people who want to ride the train for free. So in your effort for Rocketdyne to move in the direction of being, you know, more of a "we" organization, how will you prevent people from freeloading? And I said, it's easy. I said, everyone will see them and they will know we see them. [laughter] So what you have at Deming organization is, if I leave the bowling ball in a doorway without asking you, you have the visibility to see that. So anyway, he threw that question out. He contacts me a month or so later and he says, Hey, Bill, he says, I'm, I'm gonna be home from college for the summer. I'm looking for a summer job. If you don't, I dunno if you have budget, if you don't have budget, I'll work for free. So I said, I don't have budget. So I made a deal with him. I said, you can come and attend all this training that we're offering over the entire summer. In exchange, here's some things I'd like you to do. So I arranged for him to get a badge. He came in every day.


0:35:10.0 BB: Everywhere I did training across Southern California, he would come with me, be a fly on a wall. And he got to see some really cool stuff. Well, towards the end of the summer, around middle of August, he comes to me and he says he's gonna quit. He's done. Next week is my last week. He says, did I tell you about my other job? I said, no, what other job? He says, oh, I told, I guess I didn't tell you. He said I wanted to see during my last summer in college, 'cause once I graduate, I'm gonna go get a real job. So this is my last summer in college and I figured if the ideas I'm learning from you are worth anything, I wanna go see now. So I says, so what'd you do? He says, I've had a summer job applying these ideas, starting where he is.


0:36:02.6 BB: And I said, okay. And he says, I got a job at a Western Wear store, in Thousand Oaks, that had a sign, walked into the mall, saw a sign at the door looking for a salesperson. So I hired in as a salesperson. I said, so how'd that go? He said, well, the way it works is the salespeople rotate as to who gets the next customer. So there's like three salespeople at any point of time. While I'm working on this one, you sit behind the counter with the others,


just sitting there, you know, twiddling your thumb. So, I said, so, so what'd you do? He said, well, what I started to do was, instead of just sitting behind the counter, if I saw the person waiting on the customer needed a calculator, I'd have it ready for them. If I thought they needed a stapler, I'd have it ready for them.


0:37:00.0 BB: I said, holy cow. I said, what'd that lead to? He said, well, next thing you know, there's, we're doing that for one another. Well, he ended up, after about a month of working there, he was named manager of the store, as a walk-in. I said, how'd that work?




0:37:01.5 BB: How did you after a month become salesperson, you know, moved from being a salesperson to being a manager? He said, well, they keep track of who sells how much each week. You know, it's not a commission system, but they keep track. And because I had the most sales, I got promoted. I said, well, how did you get the most sales? He said, I started asking questions that I learned from you and Tim and the others in the training. I started asking questions about, so somebody comes in, they're looking for a suit, I'm asking them, what's the engagement? And the better I understand where they're coming from, the better I know, you know, you don't need to buy this, you can rent this. And so I started asking questions. The better I understand the questions, the better I'm serving them. So one is, I'm helping my coworkers.


0:38:08.3 BB: Two is, I have been named manager because I'm helping the clients understand...we're better understanding their needs. So he starts off as a salesperson, wins over his colleague and start mimicking his behavior, gets promoted to manager. Now, what he starts to do, in the manager role, is he, there's a, there's... He in the manager's role gets like 10% of all the sales above a certain value. So he starts sharing that profit with all employees on a prorated basis. And there's, the overall sales for the store have improved dramatically.


0:38:56.6 BB: Now he's gonna go off and work on this other big project which was his senior thesis, which also involved taking Deming's ideas and Ackoff's ideas and putting them into a company that he wanted to start. But before he did that, he hired another student, turns out a Stanford graduate, and brought him to class such that this guy could take over for him and keep this thing going. And I said, so are you gonna bring the owner of the store? And he says, no. He says, they have no interest. I say, so what's gonna happen after you leave and after Sam leaves? He says, this is gonna go back to zero. But he walked away having just tried to do what he could with what he learned that summer and made a difference from where he was.


0:39:45.7 AS: Well, that's a great point to end on. And the idea being that when you look around at your company, at your school, at your job, at your life, and you wanna start implementing these ideas, it can get overwhelming as you look at the bigger and bigger systems or other things. So the objective really is just start small and start where you are. Anything you would add in a wrap-up?


0:40:11.6 BB: Yeah. Another thing I'd like to add to that, have you heard the expression, management works on the system, people work in the system?


0:40:24.8 AS: Yeah.


0:40:27.6 BB: Okay. That's attributed to Myron Tribus. And people have said to me, Bill, management works on the system, people work in the system. Well, I've heard people use that expression as a means of saying, if you aren't in management, then you can't... Then just wait. Just wait. Because if you're a willing worker, Andrew, you're just a machinist in the factory, well, Andrew, you're not, that's not management. I mean, you're working in the system. The people in management work on the system. And so a disagreement I've had with some people is that if I was to believe that expression, then I would wait for management to take action. And that may take forever. And so...




0:41:23.7 BB: In fact, I had a guy who was working with Deming, or a guy who was somehow affiliated with some Deming consultants, and he came to a class at Rocketdyne years ago and he says, so Bill, how often do you meet with the president of Rocketdyne? I said, not very often. He said, does he support what you're doing? I said, of course he does. If he wasn't, you wouldn't be here and I wouldn't be here. But how often do you meet with him? I said, not very often. He says, you know what Myron Tribus says, I say, oh, no. What did Myron say? He says, Myron says, management works on the system, people work in the system. He says, you need to be meeting with him all the time. I said, he's in Washington DC trying to get us next generation contracts, and I think that is far more important a point of work for him than anything else. And he says, oh, no. He says, I think you're wrong. And I said, I look at him, I said, so actually, I said, I think there might be a bigger system.


0:42:27.0 BB: You know, it's something more important to do. "More important than working with the president of your company, Bill?" I said, "What if I am meeting with people at NASA headquarters? What if I am meeting with the Army's first [woman] four star general," which I had. I said, what if that? I said, "So you just want me to start, you think the system is constrained to me just getting the president smart?" And so there I would say is, one is, if you follow the belief, and Myron was brilliant, and I don't... But I think if you take that verbatim, management works on the system, people work in the system, now you're back to Russ Ackoff and that student asking the question, where do I... Yeah, don't I have to work for management to get on board? And I said, no. What I try to do in my classes and with clients is help people on any level get smart about these ideas, try to give them everyday examples that they can share with their peers relative to givng an everyday example of Dr. Taguchi 's loss function.


0:43:40.1 BB: Giving an everyday understanding of the difference between managing actions and management systems, so that individuals can become more articulate in explaining to others. And simultaneously, what Ackoff would say, the best way to learn something is teach it to others. And so, my hope is that people listening to our podcast, don't think you have to wait for senior management to get on board, start to make a difference from where you are, practice your understanding of these ideas, explaining them to people outside of work where you might be given more time to explain it than somebody at work.


0:44:18.3 BB: Use that experience to try to do something with it. Maybe the experiments you run are at home, in some manner. And hopefully that then inspires you to go a little bit further. And another thing I'll point out is in a future podcast, I'll talk about what I learned from a good friend on how to create change within an organization starting at the bottom of the organization, which gets into some more detail, but it's still based on the premise of starting from where you are with a theory and understanding that what people call practical, there's Deming practical and there's non-Deming practical. So if they're saying they're being practical, they are truly being practical, don't be dissuaded by that.




0:45:04.4 AS: Boom. Well, Bill, on behalf of everyone at the Deming Institute, I want to thank you again for this discussion. For listeners, remember to go to to continue your journey. And if you wanna keep in touch with Bill, just find him on LinkedIn. This is your host, Andrew Stotz, and I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Dr. Deming, "People are entitled to joy in work."