The Public Sector and Deming

Posted on January 7, 2006  Comments (3)

Public Management-The Bush Administration

Paul Soglin, former Mayor of Madison Wisconsin, quotes one of Deming’s 14 obligations of management:

W. Edwards Deming’s point number ten is, “Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the workplace.”

In looking for online background on Deming thinking in Madison I came across this explanation of Madison’s start, on the US Department of Labor site:

Madison’s quality improvement efforts began after then-Mayor James F. Sensenbrenner and his staff were exposed to the teaching of W. Edwards Deming in 1983. A pilot project at the motor equipment division made substantial improvements in prioritizing repairs, improving communications with customers, reducing steps in the inventory purchasing process and, ultimately, reducing vehicle down time, all of which saved money and improved service at the same time. Based on the success of the pilot, it was decided to expand the philosophy throughout city government. A range of quality improvement projects, with active involvement by union members, saved the city between $1.1 million to $1.4 million over a four-year period, agency heads estimated.

My father, Bill Hunter, was very involved (responsible for it, if you want my version of events) with the effort so I am interested in the results. He wrote up the experience for Deming’s Out of the Crisis (pages 245-247). It is always nice to see that Deming’s ideas have stayed in the minds of leaders (in Madison this is no doubt due to the great work of George Box, Peter Scholtes, Brian Joiner, Tom Mosgaller, Barb Hummel and many others).

For those partisans who want to hear from the other side (Soglin is a democrat), Newt Gingrich, former Republican Speaker, U.S. House of Representatives, is well know for his support of Deming’s ideas: “I’m a disciple of Edwards Deming. I really believe in a culture and system of quality.” (Transformational Leadership lecture, 2003) He met with Deming several times and has long spoken of the importance of Deming’s ideas. Gringrich’s required reading list (Out of the Crisis and New Economics by Deming, The Effective Executive by Drucker, The Art of War by Sun-Tzu and and 8 others).

More online resources on Madison’s efforts:

I also ran across this essay/application by Michael Masterson, former Police officer in Madison:

I was part of a pioneering city staff team which adapted Deming’s 14 points for public service and applied them in Madison. I described, in detail, one of the ways the City developed a quality purchasing toolkit, which was published in Quality Progress, ( a professional journal for engineers).

Our continuous organizational improvement journey continued in 1986 when Chief David Couper designated me as team leader of a project team to explore the concept of the Experimental Police District – a study of changing the traditional paramilitary hierarchical profession which emphasized control of its employees as well as its citizens to a new philosophy based on quality management tenets. Both would now be called customers. This change effort was premised on developing quality from the inside – out. By developing a new leadership philosophy we called “The 12 Principles of Quality Leadership”, we saw improved workplace conditions and employees attitudes which then led to community benefits of improved neighborhood conditions, reduced victimization, reduction of fear, increased citizen involvement, and increased satisfaction with police.

By the way he got the job as Boise Police Chief

3 Responses to “The Public Sector and Deming”

  1. CuriousCat: Blog Archive » Lean National Health System
    June 28th, 2006 @ 12:29 pm

    This is an example of focusing on improving the system which will then result in improved measures (cost savings for example). This systems approach contrasts with cutting costs by cutting every budget by 5% across the board which often fails. Without improvements in the system reducing budgets just reduces capability…

  2. Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog » Six Sigma for Erie County Government
    November 12th, 2007 @ 10:42 am

    Chris Collins proposed bringing six sigma to Erie County government in his campaign for county executive. He won the election…

  3. Transforming a Management System – A Case Study From the Madison Wisconsin Police Department » Curious Cat Management Blog
    March 17th, 2015 @ 1:48 pm

    By developing a new leadership philosophy we called “The 12 Principles of Quality Leadership”, we saw improved workplace conditions and employees attitudes which then led to community benefits of improved neighborhood conditions, reduced victimization, reduction of fear, increased citizen involvement, and increased satisfaction with police…

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