Topic: Management Improvement
Management Advice: Which 90% is Crap? by Bob Sutton, Stanford University:
I share this frustration with declaring old ideas new: Management Improvement, Better and Different, Quality, SPC and Your Career, Deming and Six Sigma, Management Lessons from Terry Ryan, Everybody Wants It, Toyota’s Got It, Fashion-Incubator on Deming’s Ideas and on and on.
Why does this matter? Two reasons, most importantly to me is that when we fail to value the best ideas, instead valuing the new ideas, we are not as effective as we could be. We often accept pale copies of good old ideas instead of going to the good old ideas – which will often lead to a much richer source of knowledge. When I compare copyrighted versions of management thinking to ideas from people like Ackoff, Deming, Ohno, Scholtes, McGreggor the depth and richness of those I admire is much greater than the packaged solutions, as I see it (and they are often more concerned with furthering the practice of management than further their brand). Second, it is often dishonest, or at least sloppy thinkers, that don’t acknowledge the history of management ideas.
Sloppy (or dishonest) thinking feeds this condition. Either people fail to learn (PDSA is a great way to encourage learning – predict the results of the improvement strategy, then measure the results and then study the results) or they just want to accept some easy fix today that they know won’t work (which puts off trying to find a real fix until later). It is amazing to me how often we accept non-solutions. If someone objects that we have tried that “solution” and it didn’t work they are often shut down with a version of: “don’t be negative” or “I don’t want to hear we tried that before and it didn’t work” (we are different now) or “we need team players” or “if you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem”…
Great point. Dr. Deming was constantly citing the sources of ideas he discussed. Maintaining academic and scientific integrity is not just a sign of honesty but I believe leads to better performance. When one markets that they are the source of new wisdom they have to try and separate themselves from the past and others. Over time they will do so not just in marketing but in their own thoughts. When one is trying to bring together great ideas they can continually learn from the past and present.