I am reading (again) Out of the Crisis by W. Edwards Deming and his prescription for US businesses from our last crisis. Let’s give US businesses a grade of pass, fail or incomplete for each of the 14 points.
1. Create constancy of purpose for improvement of product or service.
Comments: Dr. Deming asked us to not put the quarterly dividend ahead of the company existence decades from now. Our search for bigger dividends in the short-term helped contribute to our current financial crisis. We are still slaves to defacto purposes like budgets and dividends. We judge management by what they can do for us in the short-term.
2. Adopt the new philosophy.
Comments: I never heard Dr. Deming once mention tools found in Lean, Six Sigma or Lean Six Sigma to be part of the new philosophy (other than control charts). Many manufacturers are gone, some have adopted the new philosophy. The largest part of the US economy is service and little evidence exists that we are still anything but command and control thinkers.
3. Cease dependence on mass inspection.
Comments: The mass inspection in manufacturing that Dr. Deming referenced is certainly better, but I suspect because they either had to because of competition or those manufacturers are gone. Service industry is still full of this form of waste with inspections, re-inspections, reviews and double-checks.
4. End the practice of awarding business based on price tag alone.
Comments: Manufacturing: Pass; Government: Fail; Service: Fail, especially when purchasing technology.
5. Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service.
Comments: See comments for #1 and #2.
6. Institute Training
Comments: Dr. Deming is talking about training to understand the organization as a system or systems thinking. Few organizations are viewed this way. This is not scientific management style functional training.
7. Adopt and institute leadership.
Comments: The command and control style of management in force today is still the style of management. Dr. Deming was clear that management by the numbers (Alfred P. Sloan), MBO, performance appraisals, work standards, etc. had to be replaced by leadership.
8. Drive out fear.
Comments: Decision-making is still in the hands of the manager, the worker has little say in the work they do. Technology has been created to dumb them down and keep them in line even more. Check you brain at the door.
9. Break down barriers between staff areas.
Comments: OK, there are more birthday parties, balloon-kicking, pancake days and group hugs. However, systems thinking is still missing and scientific management theory still prevails. The end-to-end work is still segmented and managed that way.
10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the work force.
Comments: Ever walk through a call center and you will see lots of all three. The targets one is killing our competitive position.
11. Eliminate numerical quotas for the work force and numerical goals for management.
Comments: Are you kidding? . . . the worker has been torn down to the smallest iota and there is plenty of technology to allow this to happen. Sales still have quotas. Management numerical goals are in the form of budgets and targets.
12. Remove barriers that rob people of pride of workmanship.
Comments: As long as command and control thinkers separate the decision-making from the work and have a problem with the first 11 points we will fail.
13. Encourage education and self-improvement for everyone.
Comments: Individuals that are intrinsically motivated are filling the void. Encouragement is often lacking.
14. Take action to accomplish the transformation.
Comments: We never really started.
Obviously, this is my opinion. What is yours?