Dr. Deming's Influence on Me - Point #1

Derek BDerek B PQ Systems Employee
It's hard to work at PQ Systems and not be influenced by the teachings of Dr. Deming.  His thoughts on quality in leadership and management are weaved tightly into our company's culture and - I believe - directly impact most of our decisions regarding the system in which we operate.  Over the next few weeks, I'll be introducing each of Deming's 14 Points for Management along with an example or two of how I've caught myself implementing them into my everyday life.  I would encourage you to share your experiences by commenting as well!

Point #1
Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service, with the aim to become competitive and to stay in business, and to provide jobs.

My Reflection
Continuous improvement is a good place to begin this journey.  Commit your focus towards long-term success and try to resist being funneled into short-term solutions to bigger issues.  Perhaps my favorite explanation of this point is the following, "Don't just do the same things better - find better things to do."  Challenge yourself to think about (and prepare for) the problems of tomorrow rather than being fully consumed by the problems of today.

Here's a fun personal example for you.  Surviving parenthood (so far) with a two-year-old, I've stumbled across a few companies who effectively solved tomorrow's problems.  If you've had kids, you understand the car seat and highchair crumb trails left behind by your hungry, but clumsy toddler.  Solving today's problem would be focusing on techniques for cleaning up the mess. For example, car seat vacuums and spill-resistant fabric would do a great job at that.  Improving constantly and solving tomorrow's problems introduced me to the Gyro Bowl.  If you haven't seen it before, Google it!  It's a children's snack bowl suspended on three axes so that, regardless of the way the bowl is held, the contents remain upright and in the bowl.  The point for me is that I didn't even realize the effort I put into constantly cleaning until I learned of the "guaranteed no spill" bowl.  Parenting gadgets = continuously improving the quality of life!

What about you?  How has Deming's 1st Point presented itself in your professional or personal life?


  • Anne SAnne S PQ Systems Employee

    I am intrigued by: “Don't just do the same things better - find better things to do”.

    In How to Start Applying Deming's Ideas on Management  by John Hunter, on the Deming Institute’s blog, it encourages us to “start small, but on things that are important, and build on each attempt. Change what you do. Experiment and learn and experiment some more.”

    Performing multiple experiments requires the collection of data. Data collection requires organization. Learning and examining data requires time to absorb new information and practice new ways of thinking. I think it’s important to discuss with others. “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”. (Quote by Albert Einstein)

    This approach is very different than what I’d call a ‘reactionary approach’ which I’ve noticed in more traditional business cultures. It seemed new policies were rolled-out to teams on a regular basis. This left employees thinking, “Oh, so we’re doing it ‘this’ way now? OK, let’s try that, then.” Six months later there’s a ‘better’ idea. Four months later, (and another manager later) employees hear ‘We’re going to try it this way’. Employees never knew why things changed and lacked feedback regarding which ideas worked, which didn’t, and why.

    When I experienced this, my reaction was to feel unimportant because my team was removed from problem-solving activities. I wondered if what we did each day had any effect. If it didn’t, why bother trying so hard?  Was the point of our work to simply earn a paycheck? Was it asking too much to understand how our work fit into an overall system, the goal of which was to make life easier for our customers?  

    I can see how experimenting, learning and discussing with others instead of being fully consumed by the problems of today (by reacting…and reacting some more) is a better way to make decisions about a system.

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