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Jul 25, 2023

Learning Deming is like seeing the world through a different lens. In this episode, Bill Bellows uses various examples to show us how powerful that new vision can be. 


0:00:03.4 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 Vision Therapy. Bill, take it away.

0:00:29.9 BB: Welcome back, Andrew. Yes, I wrote an article, gosh, maybe 10 years ago now for the Lean Management Journal under the title Vision Therapy: Shift from Big Problems to Great Opportunities. And in the article, I talk about vision therapy - as getting glasses is one form of vision therapy or perhaps you need surgery on your eyes. I also talked about therapy our son once went through which is hand-eye coordination. And all of that is leading up to a vision exercise I put together 1998 timeframe and was inspired by a number of things. One is I had read a book written by David Kerns, former CEO of Xerox, and it's called 'Prophets in the Dark.' And he shared a story in there of a senior executive who had come from Ford. And he said, this guy named Frank Pip, who went on to become an outstanding leader within Xerox. If there was... I get the feeling if there was a hall of fame within Xerox, David Kearns would be in it. Frank Pip would be in it.

0:02:02.0 BB: And quite likely Barry Bebb, who's a mentor of mine, would be in it. And others, and... Anyway, relative to Frank Pip: Pip started his career at Ford and he got to the point of being a plant manager for the Ford final assembly plant. And there was an account he gave to Kearns of whenever they did final assembly of automobiles, rubber mallets were used to bang the mating parts together. They didn't quite fit. And every now and then, two parts would go together without a mallet. And the Ford, at Pip's plant, they called the parts that assembled without a mallet Snap-fit - everything else required mallets and mostly it was mallets. But every now and then there'd be Snap-fit. And then he explains how they, Pip was inspired to go off and buy competitor's cars for the purpose of buying them, taking them apart, putting 'em back together. And unfortunately, Pip died a few years ago, and I... And it never dawned on me to reach out to him. I thought by the time I heard of him, it was maybe too late then, it turns out I had plenty of time to reach out to him. So I don't know what inspired him, but I get the feeling he was routinely buying competitors' cars, taking 'em apart, putting 'em together, just alike, and they assembled just like theirs, just like theirs, just like theirs.

0:03:26.7 BB: And then there was a pickup truck they took apart, put together, and never used a mallet. It was, in Ford's language, 100% Snap-fit. And Pip was so astounded by the results he had the assembly team take it apart again and put it back together again 'cause he couldn't believe it was a 100% Snap-fit. Well, when he found that it was 100% Snap-fit twice, now he thought, "Holy cow," he calls up corporate, had someone come out from Dearborn, which was Ford's corporate headquarters, and I don't know if it was his boss, whoever the person was, came out very, very senior. And he says, they met with the team. The team's answering his questions. And as I explain it to people, you can imagine what it's like when somebody from corporate comes out. That's typically in my experience, somebody coming from corporate that's either, they're there to celebrate something or it's a bad day or it's a routine, but it... Anyway, it's a big deal for him. And as Pip's account was when the plant manager, when this executive came out from Dearborn and heard this account first hand, blah, blah, blah, his comment to the team was "The customer will never notice the difference."

0:04:38.1 BB: And in the book it said Pip was so frustrated with that attitude that he quit 'cause he thought, "We have uncovered something and this guy is treating it as no big deal.” Well, then I point out to people that was the late '60s and which was at the beginning of Ford, I'm sorry, of Toyota selling cars in the States. It was a Toyota pickup truck. So I just... I shared this story in part for this term, Snap-fit. Well, then in the late '90s I was teaching a graduate class in quality management at the Kellogg School of Management, Kellogg Business School, Northwestern University, which I checked very recently. It's the number two business school in the United States. And I'm teaching a class there. Through some interesting occurrences, I was invited to teach this class there. And I wrote up this contrast between the very simple black and white model. And we've been talking black and white models and I was using a black and white model of organizations which were about continuous improvement versus black and white thinking in that kind of contrast. And I gave them pairs of words and I said...

0:06:16.5 BB: You could have "good versus bad" - is one model. What I was showing 'em is, is black and white words versus continuum words versus relative words. I said, there's, let's see the good versus bad, and then that would be a black and white. And I said, "If you take the good versus bad and put it into a continuum, what would it be? And people would joke, "Gooder." And I said, "Well, faster, it could be tall versus short - taller, cheap versus expensive - cheaper." And I was using those pairs, getting them a sense of relative thinking versus black and white thinking. And I put out the word Lean, L-E-A-N and I said, "Let's say you don't know anything about the word. In which category does this word apply? Does it fit into the black and white mold or the continuum mold?" And a first of them would say it's shades-of-gray thinking. And I said, "Well, why?" And they come up with explanations and finally one guy says, he says, "It's black and white thinking." And I said, "Why?" He says, "There's no 'er' in the end."

0:07:36.4 BB: Lean, Lean. It's right? And then there's a woman who pushed back on that. And she said, "No, I disagree." She said, "You can continuously eliminate waste." And I said, "How far are you gonna go with that?" And she said, "Until there's no waste." And I said, and I was trying to point out is, well then we're done. I said, "Where is the continuous improvement, the continuum thinking behind being done?" And I said, [laughter] what'd I tell her, saying to her, I said, "So if you're done, well then what do you do?" She said, "Well, you continuously eliminate waste until you're done." Well, then I said, "Well, describe to me what an organization looks like that has no waste. Is what does it look like?" She says, "I don't know." Well, I think those two things inspired me in a class later that year, this is 1998, to throw out as an exercise, a vision, and I call it vision therapy exercise.

0:08:38.0 BB: And I said to them, "Yeah, I want you to take a piece of paper, divide it into half, into half, left and right, and then top and bottom. So there's four quadrants." And I said, "Label on the left hand side Blue Pen for Blue Pen Company. The right hand side for Red Pen as in Red Pen Company." And I held up, I would have these transparency markers. I had eight different colors. And I pulled out one, which is blue. And I said, "Imagine each of you have recently visited a company which makes blue pens, only Blue Pens. And every week I'd buy one that costs a dollar." And, I pulled out a Red Pen. Why red? 'cause I wanted something the other end of the spectrum. So I had eight different colors to choose from. So one was blue, one was red. Later somebody said to me, "Why did you pick blue versus red?"

0:09:31.2 BB: And I said, "Well, Rocketdyne was owned by Boeing at the time." And when I looked at the colors, you know a lot of the, advertising the logos of Boeing were blue and white. And I thought, blue is the company I have in mind for one side, and then something not blue, not green, not brown, red is the other side. So I said, "So imagine you've recently visited a Blue Pen Company, that only makes blue pens. You buy one every week, it costs a dollar. When you need a Red Pen, you buy that from the Red Pen Company, and they only make red, you buy it, it cost a dollar." So I had them create this - left and right. Imagine you've recently visited both organizations for two weeks each. All right? And then I said on the, you've got a left side and a right side, one's red, one's blue, top versus bottom.

0:10:24.1 BB: I said, "So imagine for the first week as you're visiting these two companies, nobody's there. So give us some additional information. What I want you to do is describe the physical layout of both organizations." And this ties in really well with... So my idea, as I shared in a recent session from Edgar Schein who had passed away back in January. He was an organizational therapist for most of his career at MIT. And in his book, 'Organizational Culture and Leadership,' he talked about organizational culture can be analyzed at three levels. And I didn't know about these levels back in '98 and found about them later. And I found it fits really well. And he said the first level is artifacts. And he says, I just wanna read, he says, "The constructed environment of an organization, including its architecture, technology, office layout, dress code, visible or audible behavior patterns, public documents like employee orientation, handbooks."

0:11:27.8 BB: And, what Schein says is that those artifacts come from values, the reasons and/or rationalizations of why members behave the way they do. And values come from assumptions. And again, I'm quoting from Schein, "Typically an unconscious pattern that determines how group members perceive, think and feel." And again, I didn't know about those at the time, but going back to the exercise, there's a left side and a right side. One is Blue Pen Company, one is Red Pen Company. The top two cells are, what would you see physically as Schein would say: what are the artifacts of these two organizations? And all you know so far is that one makes blue, one makes red, they both cost a dollar. And I buy one from each. Well then in the bottom two cells, what I want you to imagine is, so for the first two weeks, you visit both organizations, write down what are the physical characteristics of both organizations for the bottom two cells.

0:12:25.5 BB: And I apologize for coming back to this. In the first week you visit, there's no one there but you, no one there but you. So you're walking around both organizations, you're the only person around. You've got a clipboard. All you can talk about are the artifacts. What do you see? And the bottom two cells, imagine the second week in both organizations, there are people there. So for the bottom two cells, describe the people in both organizations. So all of this is artifacts and they come from values, they come from assumptions. But all you're doing is saying...but what I specifically wanted to differentiate is, what does the place look like different from what are the people like? And so everybody's ready to go. I'm gonna give you five minutes to put something in each cell. And here's the additional information. Andrew, you're ready?

0:13:12.7 BB: When I go to use the Blue Pen. So I would take the Blue Pen out and I would say, "When I use the Blue Pen, the cap goes off, the cap goes on, it goes off and it goes on nice and easy." And at the time I'm explaining this, they don't know anything about the prior story of Toyota, the pickup truck, 100% Snap-fit, Frank Pip. I usually... I save that for later. I said, all you know is the cap goes on, goes off nice and easy. Now the Red Pen, when I go to use the Red Pen, I need pliers to get the cap off. And there were times I had a little pair of pliers and I would use the pliers to pull it off and I need a hammer to get it back on. And I would have a little hammer and I boom, boom, boom. Now however, the Blue Pen... The cap is said to be Snap-fit. Then I would say just like snap your fingers, it comes off nice and easy goes on nice and easy, it doesn't fall off. That's all the information I have. Spend the next five minutes putting something in each cell.

0:14:14.3 BB: I've done that exercise around the world over 500 times of all different audiences, as young as college students, people working in the fishing industry, all over. And what's really cool is what shows up in those four cells is nearly identical. There may be some caveats due to language and whatnot.

0:14:40.8 AS: Identical across the 500, or again, identical...

0:14:44.1 BB: Yes.

0:14:44.5 AS: Across the red and blue.

0:14:46.5 BB: Yes, I... Well... What shows up in those four cells is nearly identical. So I would give people five minutes. And the other thing for those who are listening, my advice when you're doing this, that it took me a while to figure out the additional benefit is, what I would do is go around the room in each cell, the Blue Pen physical and ask if anyone has an example. So for the Blue Pen physical, someone will say: an open environment, bright lights, windows. All right. Then I'd go to the Red Pen Company, physical, "Okay, what do you see over here?" People might say, "Closed doors." Then I'd go to the Red Pen people, what about the people? And the... There might be "rigid,” “looking over their shoulder,” “on a time clock." Blue Pen Company, people might be happy and smiling. So I would go around the room before I give 'em five minutes just to make sure most of us are on the same page 'cause now, and then there'd be some people who are lost. And... But in general, people are pretty good. So then I give 'em five minutes and then depending on the size of the room, I might go around the room, table by table, look over your shoulder, see how you're doing, onto the next one, onto the next one and I get a feeling that they're doing pretty good. So then when I have them stop and there's different things I do at this point. I've had people at this point after five minutes stand up. Okay, there's a couple hundred people in the room at a conference.

0:16:31.0 BB: And I'll say: okay what I'd like you to do is find someone you've not met today and go introduce yourself and spend five minutes comparing trip reports. What's in your trip reports? And the room will very quickly erupt in laughter, whether I do it having you stand up, go find somebody or whether you are sitting at a table of four or five and I say across the table share. And then after they're done with that I'll say, "Okay, what did you find when you share your answers with others at the table?" And again and again, they'll say, "Their answers are just like mine." And I'll say, "Did anything come up in any of those quadrants that you were lost? That you said, Andrew, I... What do you mean by this? I don't know where you're coming from." And that's never happened. Every single time, they may have... They're looking at a factory and somebody may be looking in the kitchen, someone's looking in the lobby area. So they may be looking at different places, but it always fits together well. In the very beginning, what I would do, is I would give them five minutes. I wouldn't have 'em share anything yet. And I would go around the room and I'd say, get in the front of the room and the very first person, and I'd say if it was you say, "Andrew, what's the first thing you have for Blue Pen Physical?" And you'd say, "Clean." In fact, what's really cool is "neat, clean and organized" came up in order again and again.

0:18:13.6 BB: So I would ask you, "Andrew, what do you see?" You would say, "Neat," next person "Clean," next person "Organized." And I go all the way around and just fill up one cell with the very first... One thing you have that you haven't heard yet. Then I would jump over to the Red Pen, fill it out, then I'd go to the Red Pen people. So I would fill up a given cell and in the beginning I would write these on flip charts. And again, I don't know exactly what I was... I had in mind, "It's gonna be interesting," but I didn't appreciate how powerful this has become. And in the beginning I would write these on flip charts and then at the end of the class, I would throw them away. Then as I began to see how common the patterns were, then I would write them onto transparency and save them and I would date them. And at one point of time I've a colleague who's working on a PhD thesis, University of Texas and his PhD research, Andrew, [laughter] came from 200 trip reports that I still had in my files that I hadn't thrown out. And he and his brother took the data 'cause we knew exactly who was in each class. And so he had... He and his brother had some methodology in his... So his research data for his PhD thesis, looking at the leadership styles of these two organizations. And so let me...

0:19:52.3 BB: So in the Blue Pen physical, it's: an open layout neat, clean, organized, what else? Harmonious and as needed, if you were to say harmonious, then I might say, "Andrew, what do you mean by that? What do you mean? What do you mean clean? What do you mean this? What do you mean?" And so there's nothing wrong for our listeners who are trying this out with people. It's just keep asking them: "What do you mean by, what do you mean by." What's most critical is write down exactly what people say. Don't interpret. Don't yeah I would just say don't interpret. So I go all the way around and people would be astounded.

0:20:40.9 BB: I mean, I'd say a couple of things. One is quite often what people see in the contrast is where they work [laughter] versus where they would love to work. [chuckle] Now let me also say, in the very beginning when I did it, I did not explain to them what Snap-fit meant. So I did not say Snap-fit is good. I just said Snap-fit. Now, there would be people who would say, "Well, does it mean because it's Snap-fit, that it's good." And I would just say, "I didn't say one is good, one is bad. All I'm saying is one goes together with the hammers, one doesn't," and then I would eventually explain to them the a 100% Snap-fit Toyota pickup truck, and it would come together nice for them. Well, when I found the uses of this are one, people can, but Dr. Deming talked about prevailing style of management, but talking about it and having conversations about it is, what I found is this exercise...

0:22:00.1 BB: I think helps people in their own words, explain to them. It allows them to create a sense of: what is the prevailing system of management? And it's the Red Pen Company's side in many ways, and then: what is a Deming organization? It's the opposite. Now this is a very simple black and white model. And as George Box's quoted saying "All models are right. Some models are useful." I have found it enormously useful to look at the two organizations and ask people, what are the conversations like in both organizations? And I would say, "Okay, you're walking around a Red Pen Company, you come across two people in the hallway, what are they talking about?"

0:22:48.4 BB: And what you'll get is: it's second-shift people complaining about first-shift people, or it's engineering complaining about manufacturing. And then people would say, there's a lot of "us and them" and I said, okay. What I've also heard people say, is they'll say, "Well, on second shift where they work, we're a Blue Pen Company." "Also on second shift we're a Blue Pen, but those first-shift people, those are Red Pen." And you know, I said, what's a conversation like in a Blue Pen Company? "I've got an idea. Hey, let me hear about it, blah, blah, blah. Tell me more. Tell me more." I'll ask them, what are survival skills in both organizations, survival skill in a Red Pen Company? What'd you find there? And people would say you know, being able to finger-point, not being blamed, protecting yourself, you know, the CYA mentality. Mentality. Don't ever...

0:23:52.8 AS: Surviving the occasional backstabbing.

0:23:55.9 BB: Oh yeah. Don't ever try anything new. You know, what will also come out is, you know, "stodgy, stiff, inflexible." Whereas I said, what about people in the Blue Pen Company? And they'll present this. And I'll ask them, "Which organization would you call a learning organization?" And people will always say, the Blue Pen Company. And I say, why? And they say, "Well, you know, they're always trying to figure out, you know, they're doing PDSA cycles, trying to figure out improvement, improvement." And I'll say, you don't think people in a Red Pen Company have learned how to survive [laughter]? You don't think they've learned how to finger-point, you don't think they've learned how to duck and cover?

0:24:39.9 AS: In a Red Pen. You were saying in a Red Pen Company or in a Blue Pen?

0:24:40.7 BB: Oh yeah I meant Blue Pen, I meant red I mean Red Pen. I said, what I was trying to point out is people will say a Blue Pen is a learning environment. What I'm trying to point out is, don't underestimate the ability of people in a Red Pen Company to also learn, but that learning is about self-protection. And, you know, so the survival skills in that environment are protecting oneself, hoarding information, not allowing others to know how to, you know, do things. So they have secret tools, secret analysis methods, and I say, what are survival skills in a Blue Pen Company? And people will say, "Sharing knowledge is power in a Blue Pen Company." And so I constantly wanna make sure that I'm sharing. And, but it's not that I inundate everyone with everything, but a week later after Andrew, you've asked me for something, a week later I come to you and I say, "Hey, I've been thinking about it.

0:25:34.3 BB: And something else occurred to me that I thought you might value." What I would also add to the conversation is, "What percent of organizations are Red Pen companies?" And I just say, just, you know, in your experience. And then I would say in this unscientific survey, people would say the majority, 80% to 90% of companies, they would say, are Red Pen companies. And I would say, "Well, what keeps them in business? I mean, how could, what is, if 80% of them are Red Pen companies? What keeps all of these companies in what Deming would call the prevailing style of management and business?" People are like, "I don't know."

0:26:17.0 BB: In my response, I shared with my boss who was once President of Rocketdyne. I said, "What keeps us in business?" He said, "What?" I said, "Lousy competition."


0:26:27.1 AS: Yeah. That's what I was gonna say. What keeps us in business is the other 80, 90 percent that's in the same boat as us.

0:26:32.7 BB: Exactly. Because they blame their people. Their people become dejected, withdrawn, only do as they're told, hide mistakes, which caused others to make the same mistakes. How can you keep in business focusing on the past to get back to the present when you're in this constant firefighting mode? How do you stay in business other than: others run the same way. And Deming somewhere in The New Economics, I believe in The New Economics. He says, "Be thankful for a good competitor." So that's what I mean by the vision therapy. This Blue Pen Company, Red Pen Company. I've done variants of it. The very first one was blue and red Snap-fit versus not snap-fit. I've, in the last few years, we'll get exactly the same results with a different starting point.

0:27:30.2 BB: And the starting point I use is, I tell the story of the executive sitting next to me that I think I've shared about the last straw. The straw that, what if you're in an organization where you believe the last straw broke the camel's back, what would it be like to work there? And people would say, "Oh, I wouldn't wanna work there is a culture of blame." So I would explain, imagine you recently visited an organization where everyone believes that the last straw did it, and that's called the Last Straw organization. And then there's also this All Straw organization where you understand the systemic aspect of all the straws getting together. And so if I was to start this exercise and explain this belief in the last straw that we have in society, that the basketball game has won on that last shot, or lost in that last shot, versus an all straw, I can use that starting point, Andrew, and have people go through and compare the physical aspects of both organizations and people and get exactly the same results and if it's, 'cause what I found with people, they'll say that...

0:28:31.9 AS: When you say exactly the same, you're saying exactly the same as the Red Pen Blue Pen?

0:28:36.1 BB: Yes. If you were to look at the... If you had a group of 30 people and get a composite score in those four quadrants, you wouldn't necessarily know if it was started with Red Pen, Blue Pen, or All Straw, Last Straw. And I've also done it when I worked for the Deming Institute in that timeframe when I left Rocketdyne, I started explaining it as what if there was one organization where there's a sense of "we," look what we did, how did we do on the exam? Andrew, you're the student, I'm the professor. A collective sense of all for one and one for all versus a "me" organization. Where the question I ask you, Andrew, is "How did you do on the exam?" And inferring that your ability to learn from the exam is separate from my ability to teach.

0:29:28.6 BB: Like I could be saying, "How are you doing in sales" versus "How are we doing in sales?" So if I was to describe it as a "me" organization, everything I do, everything is accomplished by me alone breaking things into parts. My task is done. A lot of this question one stuff that we've been talking about in terms of quality versus a "we" organization, if I explain the "me" and the "we," and there's ways to do that and then get into the trip report, me, we, and the four quadrants, very, very similar. And so I found is in terms of a vision exercise, first of all, depending on who the audience is, I'll get a... I'll figure out do I wanna use Red Pen, Blue Pen, All Straw and Last Straw, me versus we. And there's a couple others that I've used, but I know that once I get them thinking about, I just have to come up with what is the differentiator.

0:30:26.7 BB: And then I get them thinking about the artifacts. And then from the artifacts, once that is done, then I can talk about the conversations in both, the survival skills in both, the what if an... What is an ethics issue in both organizations? And I'll just say a little more about that. And I've worked in large corporations and ethics training. Really, what does it come down to the end of the day is that I didn't misuse company resources, that I didn't charge Project A using the Project B charge number [laughter], right? And I didn't fill out my timecard deliberately wrong. I didn't try to cheat the company on a trip report kind of thing. Well, then what I start thinking about is what's an ethics issue in a Blue Pen Company?

0:31:23.5 BB: And I believe, I think this comes from Dr. Deming, he would say, if, I'm pretty sure it was Deming, Deming would talk about a salesperson for a copying machine. And so Andrew, I'm the salesman and I come to your company and wanna sell, you're in need of a copier. And Deming would say, if I tried to sell you a copier that was bigger than you needed, because there's a bonus for me, Andrew, or a copier that was smaller. If I sold you a copier that I knew was much less than what you needed or much more than what you needed, then Deming would say, that would be unethical. He'd say, "My job is to sell you exactly what you need." And I view that, and I thought, "Well, that's a Blue Pen phenomenon where ethics is about how am I treating others with a sense of sharing or hoarding or whatnot?" So what I found is...

0:32:21.3 AS: Well, also ethics is how am I treating the customer?

0:32:24.4 BB: All of that. Well, how am I treating my coworkers? There's a poem I use with a great quote from Robert Frost and he said "What's the secret to selling a horse?" Have I ever shared this with you?

0:32:35.0 AS: No.

0:32:36.1 BB: The secret to selling a horse. Are you ready?

0:32:36.8 AS: Yep.

0:32:39.5 BB: Just sell it before it dies. [laughter]

0:32:41.7 AS: There you go.

0:32:44.3 BB: And so, and what Frost says in the poem is that we go through life handing off our problems to others. And I've written about this and I said, well, you mean like selling a coworker a horse? And then you come back the next day and you say, "Bill, you know this horse is dead." And I say, "Andrew, it was alive when I gave it to you." What? So I look at it as whether you're a coworker or a customer, what's that all about? And so I throw that out because...

0:33:12.2 BB: I find that that simple model is an incredible mechanism. Earlier today I was in a conversation with a coworker and the word that came up in conversation was you're "driving change." Driving change. And I said, "Driving change is what happens in a Red Pen Company." And the explanation I gave, in the Red Pen Company, I come to you Andrew, and I said, "I want this by tomorrow." And driving change is: I've got a gun to your head. And I say, "Do you understand what I'm looking for?" And you're like, "Right, 'cause I can find somebody else to do this, Andrew. I need this by tomorrow." That's driving change. And so what I'll say to people is, if driving change is a Red Pen Company, then what's the word we use in a Blue Pen Company?

0:34:05.2 AS: Coaxing.

0:34:07.4 BB: And people will say, "I don't know, what's that word?" And I'll say, "Lead, lead!" [laughter] That's what leadership's all about. You want to follow. And so, what I find is this model has allowed me to get a great number of people to explain in their own way, envision the two different organizations. And there's no doubt where they wanna work. They'd much rather be in the Blue Pen, "we" organization, an All-Straw organization. And then we can talk about, how does... The next thing I look at is with an understanding of the System of Profound Knowledge. Can you understand how a Red Pen Company might become a Blue Pen Company? Or my other proposal is that all organizations start off as a Blue Pen Company. So I started off an organization in my garage. I'm the only employee, I have customers, I have suppliers, but I know where everything goes and everything is Snap-fit because it's all about me and I wanna make sure these things integrate really well. And so how does that become a Red Pen Company?

0:35:19.7 BB: Well, here's what happens Andrew is, I hire you right outta school. You're all excited and you come in, you wanna join this organization, and I need help. Andrew, I need help. And I like your attitude. But then what happens is, I go to you and I say, "Andrew, here's what I want you to do. Your job is to answer the phone. Your job is when people call in, here's an instruction sheet, here's the order sheet. I want you to take the order. Here's what we do. We offer different sizes, different colors. You're gonna sell them what they need, not more, not less. You're gonna take their credit card information, you're gonna repeat it back to them, blah, blah, blah."

0:35:54.0 BB: And what I point out is that what I'm slowly doing, once I hire you, is putting people in separate roles. And next thing I know, I've got a baseball team where everybody's covering their own base instead of being incredibly flexible. And so I use that to point out that with the best of intentions, you could go in that direction. And, but what I've seen is I can use the four elements of Profound Knowledge to explain how one becomes the other. I can also use the System of Profound Knowledge to explain why the behaviors are the way they are. Which goes back to: what are the value systems in both organizations? What are the fundamental assumptions? Now relative to what is meant by big problems? Well, Red Pen companies, again, going for those listeners who have heard the earlier podcast. Well, Red Pen companies, all straw, I'm sorry, Last Straw organizations.

0:36:57.7 BB: They're focusing on parts in isolation. They don't work on things that are good. They focus on the things that are bad. So it's always big problems. They're focusing on the past to get back to the present, kept in business by competitors who waste their resources exactly the same way. And it's not to say you never have a problem, but it's to say instead of having a full-time fire department where that's all we're doing, all the doing all the time with a significant portion of our resources, we're using control charts in places where it makes sense. Run charts when a control chart doesn't matter as much. Or we are not even collecting data 'cause intuitively we have a sense of how things are going and where we get blinded, we have problems, but we're also in that environment. We know where can we be spending time to save a lot of time. That's the great opportunity.

0:37:49.7 BB: Things are, so I'm saving time by not having things break. I am managing variation in my resources accordingly, just to allocate my resources for the greater good. A stitch in time saves time. And that's the great opportunity focus that Red Pen companies don't know anything about 'cause they're so focused on the firefighting. And to me, what allows the shift from the Blue Pen to the Red Pen. I mean, what, either if you're unaware of these dynamics, then my Blue Pen Company will gradually become this Red Pen Company nightmare. Because I'm not paying attention to what Deming's talking about. I'm unaware of the System of Profound Knowledge. And I just lapse into that unknowingly. It's not intentional. I just don't know that addition doesn't work, you know, only works when the activities are independent. I think things that are good are equally good.

0:38:47.1 BB: And so to me, I can explain with the System of Profound Knowledge how red becomes blue, how blue becomes red. I can explain the conversations. And the last thing I wanna mention is, is when people come to me with, "Hey, how can I handle an X, Y, Z situation, something we've never talked about in the class or in a seminar?" And people will bring this to my attention and say, "Here's the issue I'm dealing with. Here's that problem I'm dealing with. How can I solve that?" And what I find is, is what I tell people is, here's my advice.

0:39:24.0 BB: And you can do it on your own, or ideally if you can explain this to others and have some others understanding this contrast, then you can - with a group - do what I'm about to explain. And that is first ask yourselves, "How would a Red Pen Company address that issue?" "We're gonna do a root cause investigation. We're gonna find the person who screwed up, we're gonna replace him, blah, blah, blah. We're gonna go that way." And then I would say, "Okay, after you've exhausted that, now ask yourself, what would a Blue Pen Company do by comparison?"

0:40:51.0 BB: And I'm not saying one of those is right, one is wrong, but my belief is that as a starting point, no matter where you are in your Deming journey, I believe, again, and the more people are involved in this, the better - I think the better we can get our minds around how a Red Pen Company handles it. And then say, "Okay, what if we become aware that the ability to learn together and work together is based on the our ability to think together?" Now you go the other way and I have individually done that when someone has asked me. And so I just want to throw that out that I find the model, this vision therapy model to be immensely valuable in brand new situations as a starting point.

0:40:51.1 AS: And in wrapping up, how would you describe kind of the number one takeaway without talking about Blue Pen, Red Pen and the exercise, how would you describe the takeaway that you want our listeners and our viewers to get from this?

0:41:07.6 BB: The number one takeaway is: don't underestimate the value proposition of a shared mental model. And this is what I find is, I can within a half hour have people imagining both organizations, imagining the conversations and that for the, and this is what is so cool that I wasn't anticipating in the beginning, is how quickly people can, without reading The New Economics, just by, 'cause essentially what you're getting them to do without talking about assumptions, they are focusing on assumptions and values. So we're not talking about the artifacts, but we're taking the artifacts and without getting... This is what's so cool is without reading Edgar Schein's work, we're really doing what he's talking about is going from the artifacts down to the values, and then we can talk about the values within organizations. And I find, and another thing I would say is, I've never met anyone that thrives to work in a non-Deming organization.

0:42:15.6 BB: They wanna work in a Blue Pen Company. And so I would, that's what I also find is without mentioning Deming's work, which is also pretty cool about this, I don't have to mention Deming, Taguchi or Ackoff. I could very simply get them and they will self-identify, reveal things. And another essential aspect of this is, this is not me telling you where you wanna work. This is me not telling you what you see. This is you sharing with others. And I learned from a colleague years ago that you can't tell anybody anything. So another immense value proposition here is that people are telling you, and then all you have to do is guide them. And that's what I find is immensely valuable.

0:43:02.6 AS: It's like you're teasing out the intrinsic desires, values and all that.

0:43:08.1 BB: All of that is coming out...

0:43:10.5 AS: Without...

0:43:10.5 BB: They're sharing frustrations. They're articulating frustrations in areas that they've not thought about. And then when they share and realize... In fact, I had a guy in a class once going through this exercise and he came up to me actually, we went through...I did this with a bunch of co-workers at an offsite location where all of them knew each other. And we went through the exercise and then took a break. As we're going to a break, one of them come up to me and he saw all the things on the whiteboard and the four quadrants.

0:43:50.3 BB: And he says to me, "These people, my co-workers," this is one-on-one. He's looking, and he says, "My co-workers got all of that over the cap fits or it doesn't."


0:44:09.6 BB: And he wasn't denying, but he's like, "I don't get it." He came up to me two hours later when the class is over and he said, "I can't believe what I couldn't see." [laughter] And that's when I realized this is a really exciting exercise that I've written about and helped others present literally around the world. And I find it works amazingly well to create a framework that people aren't realizing is helping them achieve what they really all want. I believe. I believe.

0:44:46.2 AS: Yap. Well, Bill, on behalf of everyone at the Deming Institute, I wanna thank you again for this discussion. For listeners, remember to go to to continue your journey. 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."