I had the good fortune to attend the Fall Conference sponsored by the Deming Institute this past weekend. This visit was extra special as I was able to attend with my son, Dan.

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The conference was great (as always) and several times Dan asked me how many companies understood and applied what was being talked about and discussed.  It’s pretty clear that the percentage is low.  It would be much easier to say “I don’t see any reason to work uphill since these principles are not being followed by most people.”

Yes, it’s easy to give up.  But I keep coming back.  Why?  Since I first met Dr. Deming in 1985 I knew what he was talking about was important, but was understood by few.  I think it’s important to keep trying and keep up the hope.  As I talk with people, I come to realize that there ARE some people who are “getting it” and the number is growing, but perhaps not at a steep pace.

So, there’s hope that that there’s hope.

I simply don’t see an alternative but to try, and to continue to learn.  I can’t go back to managing by results just because others are doing it.  I can’t start a performance evaluation system just because it’s the prevailing style.  I can’t chop the organization into parts and manage the parts just because others do it.  I simply can’t do it.  And I won’t.

I take solace from the advice from Dr. Deming in is 1993 book The New Economics:

“The first step is transformation of the individual.  This transformation is discontinuous.  It comes from understanding of the system of profound knowledge.  The individual, transformed, will perceive new meaning to his life, to events, to numbers, to interactions between people.  Once the individual understands the system of profound knowledge, he will apply its principles in every kind of relationship with other people.  He will have a basis for judgment of his own decisions and for transformation of the organizations that he belongs to.  The individual, once transformed, will:

  • Set an example,
  • Be a good listener, but will not compromise,
  • Continually teach other people,
  • Help people to pull away from their current practice and beliefs and move into the new philosophy without a feeling of guilt about the past.”

W. Edwards Deming. The New Economics for Industry, Government, Education (p. 93).

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