I recently created one RSS feed for all the Curious Cat Network blogs (which also includes other blogs I author). Of course, you can also subscribe to the RSS feed for this blog by itself: Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog RSS feed. RSS readers are by far the best way to read blogs; if you want some more information here is a post on RSS feed readers and how to use them.
Posts about John Hunter
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Building a Great Software Development Team
Adam Solove: Why do you think that happened? They hired for passion, rather than experience?
If I had to pick one thing, passion would likely be it but really it is a complex assortment of things. Passion for the right things, based on what we aimed to be, mattered a great deal. That took the form of being passionate about the user experience, being passionate about good software development practices, being passionate about good software itself, being passionate about treating each other with respect, being passionate about learning and improving.
I think there were several other important factors, such as: the skill to turn a passion for good software into actual good software. This required intelligence, interest and knowledge about software development but didn’t require specific experience (computer science degree, 2 years of Ruby on Rails development, certification or any such thing). Hiring based on experience is a big mistake. In my opinion hiring based on capability and potential (which is based partially on experience) is wise.
Another factor is that we had people (those first few hires were critical) that were really knowledgable about programing good software and that became a self reinforcing process. The gaps one person’s ability and knowledge could be filled by someone else helping them understand and get better.
The expectation was that we found great solutions. If we didn’t we kept looking and asked each other for help (another factor in creating a great team). We didn’t just accept that we were confident the solution wasn’t very good but couldn’t find any better options so I guess this is the best we can do.
We were interested enough in good results that we would push for better options instead of just accepting something that was kind of ok. This shouldn’t be such a big deal; but in practice it is huge. So many places just end up avoiding conflict to the extent that it is a huge detriment to results.
Without confidence, honest debate about ideas is suppressed as people are constantly taking things personally instead of trying to find the best ideas (and if doing so means my idea is criticized that is ok). Our group was great at this. It is something I find it a bit silly to say a workplace was “great” at but in most places I find the fear of someone being concerned stifles discussion to an unbelievable extent.
This is also one of many areas where the culture within the team was self reinforcing. As new people came on they understood this practice. They saw it in practice. They could see it was about finding good ideas and if their idea was attacked they didn’t take it nearly as personally as most people do in most places. I sought to understand if people we looked at hiring would be comfortable in such an environment.
Interview on PDSA, Deming, Strategy and More
Bill Fox interviewed me and has posted part one of the interview on his web site: Predicting Results in the Planning Stage:
John: I would say the PDSA improvement cycle and a few key practices in using the PDSA properly like predicting the results in the plan stage—something that a lot of the times people do not do—to determine what would be done based on the results of that prediction.
People discover, especially when they’re new to this stuff, regarding the data that they’re collecting, that maybe even if they got the results they are predicting, they still don’t have enough data to take action. So you figure that even if that number is 30, they would need to know three other things before they make the change. So then, in the plan stage, you can figure that you need to address these other issues, too. At any time that people are collecting data is useful to figure out, for instance: “What do we need to do if the result is 30 or if the result is 3?” And if you don’t have any difference, why are you collecting the data?
Another important piece is the D in Plan, Do, Study, Act. It means “do the experiment”. A lot of times, people get confused into thinking that D means deploy the results or something like that, but thinking of D as ‘doing the experiment’ can be helpful.
A really big key between people that use PDSA successfully and those who don’t is that the ones that do it successfully turn the cycle quickly.
John: I would say that there are a couple. The followers that want to pin everything to Deming tend to overlook the complexities and nuances and other things.
The other problem is that some of the critics latch on to a specific quote from Deming, something like a one-sentence long quote, and then they extrapolate from that one sentence-long quote what that means. And the problem is that Deming has lots of these one-sentence quotes that are very memorable and meaningful and useful, but they don’t capture every nuance and they don’t alone capture what it really means (you need to have the background knowledge to understand it completely).
They are sort of trying to oversimplify the message into these sound bites, and I find that frustrating. Because those individual quotes are wonderful, but they are limited to one little quote out of hours of videotape, books, articles, and when you don’t understand the context in which that resides, that’s a problem.
See the full interview for more details and other topics. I think it is worth reading, of course I am a bit biased.
Deming and Software Development
I am sometimes asked about how use Deming’s ideas on management in a software development context. My belief is Deming’s ideas work extremely well in a software development context. The main issue is often unlearning some assumptions that people might have about what the Deming management system is.
It really is surprising to me how many “knowledge workers” respect Deming ideas but then say his attempts to treat factory workers as thoughtful people who should be respected and involved in improving their processes doesn’t make sense for them because they are “knowledge workers.”
There are many good things being done to improving the software development process. I think many of them are very Deming-like in their approaches (but to me miss out on aspects of the Deming management system that would be helpful). I think Dr. Deming’s approach to software development would focuses on the system of profound knowledge (the 4 inter-related areas below):
- Understanding variation – software development has quite a bit of variation, some probably innate [unique work] and some due to not having good procedures, batching work, not fixing problems right when they are seen, quick fixes that leave the system venerable in the long term (when you make one simple change to the code it has an unanticipated consequence due to poor practices that could have been eliminated), etc.. Many good coding practices are effective strategies to deal with this issue. And building an understanding of variation for managers (and business process owners/product owners) is very helpful to the software development process. The ideas in agile and kanban of focusing on smaller delivery units of work (one piece flow, just in time, cycle time…), customer value, maintainable code, sustainable work conditions, etc. are directly found in a Deming management system.
- Appreciation for the system of software development. Don’t just complain about bugs. Examine the process of development and then put in place mistake proofing efforts (don’t duplicate code, use integrated regression tests, don’t put artificial constraints on that result in system distortions – unrealistic targets…). Use things like kanban, limited work in progress, delivering value to customers quickly, think of success in terms of getting working software to customers (not meeting internal delivery goals), etc. that take into account our experience with systemic software development problems over the decades.
- Theory of knowledge – how do we know what we know? Are estimates reliable? Lets look at what users do, not just what they say (A/B testing…). Software developers often appreciate the value of usability testing, even though they rarely work for organizations willing to invest in usability testing. In my experience when software developers object to usability testing it is normally really an objection to overwork, and the usability testing is just going to give them more work or criticize things they were not allowed to spend the time they needed to do great work. That won’t always be the reason but it is the main one in my experience (I suppose their is also fear and just the psychology of not wanting to hear anything negative about what has been created – even if the usability testing shows tons of great results people will often focus on the negative).
- psychology and respect for people – This pretty much seems like it is the same for software development as everywhere else.
What is the Explanation Going to be if This Attempt Fails?
Occasionally during my career I have been surprised by new insights. One of the things I found remarkable was how quickly I thought up a new explanation for what could have caused a problem when the previously expressed explanation was proven wrong. After awhile I stopped finding it remarkable and found it remarkable how long it took me to figure out that this happened.
I discovered this as I programmed software applications. You constantly have code fail to run as you expect and so get plenty of instances to learn the behavior I described above. While I probably added to my opportunities to learn by being a less than stellar coder I also learned that even stellar coders constantly have to iterate through the process of creating code and seeing if it works, figuring out why it didn’t and trying again.
The remarkable thing is how easily I could come up with an new explanation. Often nearly immediately upon what I expected to work failing to do so. And one of the wonderful things about software code is often you can then make the change in 10 minutes and a few minutes later see if it worked (I am guessing my brain kept puzzling over the ideas involved and was ready with a new idea when I was surprised by failure).
When I struggled a bit to find an initial explanation I found myself thinking, “this has to be it” often because of two self reinforcing factors.
First, I couldn’t think of anything else that would explain it. Sometimes you will think right away of 4 possible issues that could cause this problem. But, when I struggled to find any and then finally came up with an idea it feels like if there was another possibility I should have thought of it while struggling to figure out what I finally settled on.
Second, the idea often seems to explain exactly what happened, and it often feels like “of course it didn’t work, what was I thinking I need to do x.” This often turns out to be true, doing x solves the problem and you move on. But a remarkable percentage of the time, say even just 10%, it doesn’t. And then I would find myself almost immediately thinking, of course I need to do y. Even when 10 seconds ago I was convinced there was no other possibility.
Leadership and Management
I don’t think the attempts to separate leadership and management are useful. I read plenty of things that are variations on Peter Drucker’s:
“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”
A manager that is not concerned about doing the right things is a lousy manager. And a leader that doesn’t care about doing things right is a lousy leader.
Another theme of this contrasting type quote says some version of:
“Managers care about efficiency and leaders care about effectiveness”
A manager who doesn’t strive to be effective is also a lousy manager. It is also odd to suppose the detached leader (the type that lets the manager deal with the mundane while they dream), one that doesn’t concern themselves with customer focus, value chains, going to the gemba really has a clue about effectiveness. The idea seems mainly to view a manager is a cog looking at some tiny process and making it efficient without understanding the organization as a system or value chains or customer focus.
I think, the main problem is all of the attempts to contrast leaders and managers. Much of the time people are saying managers don’t do things they certainly should be doing.
The desire to express how leadership traits can be used by those without organizational authority are useful. Discussion of how certain traits can be seen as within the domain of leadership I suppose may be useful (it can help our minds see how various traits and practices combine to help get results – and we can categorize these under “leadership”).
Leaders that are primarily “big thinkers” and motivators without a clue about how to actually do the things they advocate (the model of “managers” deal with the implementation with blinders to the system while “leaders” are “above the fray”) is not useful in my opinion. It does note a somewhat common practice (in organizations today) but not one that is wise. Separating leadership from the gemba is not wise. Separating leadership from a deep understanding of customers is not wise. Separating leadership from how the organization actually works is not wise.
Plenty of others seem to disagree with my opinion though, there are many articles, blog posts, podcasts, talks… on separating leadership from management.
Lean Blog Podcast with John Hunter
Mark Graban interviewed me for the Lean Blog podcast series: Podcast #174 – John Hunter, “Management Matters” (listen using this link). Links to more information on what we discussed in the podcast.
- Madison, Wisconsin: William G. Hunter, George Box, Brian Joiner, Peter Scholtes, Joe Sensenbrener (Quality Comes to City Hall), Statistics for Experimenters, Out of the Crisis, Doing More with Less in the Public Sector: A Progress Report from Madison, Wisconsin
- My online efforts: Curious Cat Management Guide, Curious Cat Management Blog (where you are now), Curious Cat Investing Blog, Curious Cat Science and Engineering blog, Living in Malaysia, more blogs, Public Sector Continuous Improvement
- My book, Management Matters: Building Enterprise Capability
- Long Term Thinking with Respect for People – incentive schemes to get people “motivated” backfire
- What Does Respect for People Actually Mean?, Respect People by Creating a Climate for Joy in Work, the difference between respect and disrespect is not avoiding avoiding criticism
- confirmation bias
- The W. Edwards Deming Institute – blog
I would most likely not exist if it were not for George Box. My father took a course from George while my father was a student at Princeton. George agreed to start the Statistics Department at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and my father followed him to Madison, to be the first PhD student. Dad graduated, and the next year was a professor there, where he and George remained for the rest of their careers.
George died today, he was born in 1919. He recently completed An Accidental Statistician: The Life and Memories of George E. P. Box which is an excellent book that captures his great ability to tell stories. It is a wonderful read for anyone interested in statistics and management improvement or just great stories of an interesting life.
George Box was a fantastic statistician. I am not the person to judge, but from what I have read one of the handful of most important applied statisticians of the last 100 years. His contributions are enormous. Several well know statistical methods are known by his name, including:
George was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1974 and a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1979. He also served as president of the American Statistics Association in 1978. George is also an honorary member of ASQ.
George was a very kind, caring and fun person. He was a gifted storyteller and writer. He had the ability to present ideas so they were easy to comprehend and appreciate. While his writing was great, seeing him in person added so much more. Growing up I was able to enjoy his stories often, at our house or his. The last time I was in Madison, my brother and I visited with him and again listened to his marvelous stories about Carl Pearson, Ronald Fisher and so much more. He was one those special people that made you very happy whenever you were near him.
George Box, Stuart Hunter and Bill Hunter (my father) wrote what has become a classic text for experimenters in scientific and business circles, Statistics for Experimenters. I am biased but I think this is acknowledged as one of (if not the) most important books on design of experiments.
George also wrote other classic books: Time series analysis: Forecasting and control (1979, with Gwilym Jenkins) and Bayesian inference in statistical analysis. (1973, with George C. Tiao).
George Box and Bill Hunter co-founded the Center for Quality and Productivity Improvement at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1984. The Center develops, advances and communicates quality improvement methods and ideas.
The Box Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Industrial Statistics recognizes development and the application of statistical methods in European business and industry in his honor.
A few selected articles and reports by George Box
Software Process and Measurement Podcast With John Hunter
In my podcast with Tom Cagley, Software Process and Measurement Cast: John Hunter on Management Matters, as you might expect there was a bit of a focus on software development and agile software development as related to the ideas I expressed in Management Matters: Building Enterprise Capability.
- Deming: management system, continual improvement, respect for people (the 3rd point I said I would mention, but didn’t)
- Why do so many management improvement efforts fail?
- The proxy nature of data
- Building Adoption of Management Improvement Ideas in Your Organization
Podcast Discussion on Management Matters
I continue to record podcasts as I promote my new book – Management Matters: Building Enterprise Capability. This the second part, of 2, of my podcast with Joe Dager, Business 901: Management Matters to a Curious Cat. The first part featured a discussion of 2 new deadly diseases facing companies.
Links to more information on some of the topics I mention in the podcast:
- Appreciation for a System
- Using the PDSA improvement cycle
- Dangers of Targets Distorting the System
- Clayton Christensen and others
- Influencing your organization: Building Adoption of Management Improvement Ideas in Your Organization – Grow Your Circle of Influence – How to Get a New Management Strategies, Tools and Concepts Adopted
- Psychology: Respect for Everyone – Managing people – confirmation bias – Fooled by Randomness
More podcasts: Process Excellence Network Podcast with John Hunter – Business 901 Podcast with John Hunter: Deming’s Management Ideas Today (2012) – Leanpub Podcast on Management Matters: Building Enterprise Capability
Process Excellence Network Podcast with John Hunter
Diana Davis with the Process Excellence Network interviewed me for their podcast series, process perspective – Management Matters: Interview with author John Hunter (listen to podcast). Additional details on some of the ideas we discussed:
- How could they know?
- Deming’s System of Profound Knowledge: psychology, understanding variation, viewing the organization as a system, theory of knowledge
- “the most important figures that one needs for management are unknown or unknowable” Lloyd Nelson as quoted by Dr. Deming in Out of the Crisis.
- 7 deadly diseases – CEOs Want Health-Care Reform and Finally Putting Serious Effort into Bringing it About
- 2 new deadly diseases: excessive executive pay and broken copyright and patent systems – new deadly diseases subreddit (links to resources and articles on these issues), Tilting at Ludicrous CEO Pay, Why Copyright Extention is a Very Bad Idea
- Building enterprise capability – Building Management Improvement Success in Your Organization
Business 901 Podcast: Two New Deadly Diseases for Business
I continue to record podcasts as I promote my new book – Management Matters: Building Enterprise Capability. In this podcast I discuss the 2 new deadly diseases facing companies. The second part of the Business 901 podcast will be posted soon.
Links to more information on items discussed in the podcast: Dr. Deming’s 7 Deadly Diseases + 2
- Excessive Executive Pay (2005)
- Taking What You Don’t Deserve, CEO Style (2011)
- Warren Buffett: “Too often, executive compensation in the U.S. is ridiculously out of line with performance.” (2006)
- Too Much Leverage Killed Mervyns (2009)
- CEOs Plundering Corporate Coffers (2008)
- Massively Unjust Executive Compensation Damages Companies and Investments (2012)
Copyright and Patents
- Patent Gridlock is Blocking Developing Lifesaving Drugs (2008)
- The United States patent system is in need of significant reform (2005)
- Copywrong (2008)
- Software patents are evil (2006)
- Why Copyright Extension is a Very Bad Idea (2009)
I have created a new subreddit for posting links to interesting items about the new deadly diseases for business.
Leanpub Podcast on My Book – Management Matters: Building Enterprise Capability
In the podcast we cover quite a bit of ground quickly, so the details are limited (transcript of the interview). These links provide more details on items I mention in the podcast. They are listed below in the same order as they are raised in the podcast:
- John Hunter’s professional life highlights
- This blog, the Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog
- The W. Edwards Deming Institute Blog – to advance commerce, prosperity and peace
- Posts on appropriate technology on my Curious Cat Engineering blog.
- Respect for people: Practical Ways to Respect People Within an Organization – Create a Workplace That Lets People Take Pride in Their Work – Respect for Everyone – Optimize for Developer Happiness at Etsy
- Executive pay: Massively Unjust Executive Compensation Damages Companies and Investments – CEOs Plundering Corporate Coffers – Too Much Leverage Killed Mervyns – Losses Covered Up to Protect Bonuses – Taking What You Don’t Deserve, CEO Style – More on Obscene CEO Pay – Turning Up the Heat on CEO Pay (Drucker Institute): “Drucker asserted that the proper ratio between a chief executive’s pay and that of the average worker was around 20-to-1. That’s a far cry from the current ratio of more than 260-to-1 found at major U.S. companies.”
- Understanding data: Forgetting the Proxy Nature of Data Leads to Incorrect Conclusions – Managing to Test Result Instead of Customer Value – Seeing Patterns Where None Exists – Confirmation Bias
- What to do? Building Adoption of Management Improvement Ideas in Your Organization – How to Get a New Management Strategy, Tool or Concept Adopted
- Experimenting: How to Most Effectively Use of the PDSA Improvement Cycle – Encourage Improvement Action by Everyone – Google: Experiment Quickly and Often
The last 15 minutes of the podcast I talk about some details of working with Leanpub; I used Leanpub to publish Management Matters. I recommend Leanpub for other authors. They don’t just have lean in their name, they actual apply lean principles (focusing on the value chain, eliminating complexity, customer focus, etc.) to operating Leanpub. It is extremely easy to get started and publish your book.
Leanpub also offers an excellent royalty plan: authors take home 90% of the revenue minus 50 cents per book. They publish without “digital rights management” crippling purchasers use of the books. Buyers have access to pdf, kindle (mobi) and epub (iPad, nook) format books and get access to all updates to the book. All purchases include a 45 day full money back guaranty.
Business 901 Podcast with Me: Deming’s Management Ideas Today
I recently was interviewed for a podcast by Joe Dager, at Business 901: Dr. Deming on Lean in 2012. I hope you enjoy the podcast.
Here are some links related to items I mention in the podcast:
- The W. Edwards Deming Institute Blog
- William Hunter, my father. Link to paper with Easaw Chacko on Building a Quality Movement within a developing nation, 1972. Developing Children’s Numeracy Using Dice
- Statistics for Experimenters by George Box, Bill Hunter and Stu Hunter.
- City of Madison applying Deming’s management ideas:
- pages 245-247 of Out of the Crisis
- Quality Comes to City Hall by Joseph Sensenbrenner
- Peter Scholtes, author of The Leader’s Handbook
- Doing More with Less in the Public Sector by Bill Hunter, Jan O’Neill and Carol Wallen
- Shoichiro Toyoda, Honorary Chairman and director of Toyota: “There is not a day I don’t think about what Dr. Deming meant to us. Deming is the core of our management.”
- Deming Prize, awarded by the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers
- Video of Dr. W. Edwards Deming: Deadly Diseases of Western Management
Some blog posts that expand on some points I made in the podcast:
- Dr. Deming’s personal aim was to advance commerce, prosperity and peace
- Dr. Deming’s System of Profound Knowledge
- New Deadly Diseases
- Lean Manufacturing and the Toyota Production System, Why Use Lean if So Many Fail To Do So Effectively
- Toyota Targets 50% Reduction in Maintenance Waste
- Practical Ways to Demonstrate Respect for People
The W. Edwards Deming Institute Blog
Some of the posts so far:
I will continue posting to this blog (the Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog): subscribe to the RSS feed for this blog.
New Deadly Diseases
Management and the economy keep evolving. Many good things happen. In the last decade the best things are probably the increased deep adoption of lean thinking in many organization. and the adoption of lean and Deming methods in software development (agile software development, kanban and lean startup [which I do realize isn't limited to software development]).
Sadly all the deadly diseases Dr. Deming described remain. And, as I said in 2007, I think 2 new diseases have become so widespread and so harmful they have earned their place alongside the 7 deadly diseases (which started as the 5 deadly diseases). The new deadly diseases are:
- extremely excessive executive pay
- systemic impediments to innovation
In my view these 2 diseases are more deadly to the overall economy than all but the broken USA health system. The systemic impediments to innovation are directly critical to small percentage (5%?) of organizations. But the huge costs of the blocks to innovation and the huge “taxes” (extorted by those using the current system to do the oposite of what it should be doing) are paid by everyone. The costs come from several areas: huge “taxes” on products (easily much greater than all the taxes that go to fund our governments), the huge waste companies have to go through due to the current system (legal fees, documentation, delayed introduction, cross border issues…) and the denial of the ability to use products and services that would improve our quality of life.
The problems with extremely excessive executive pay are well known. Today, few sensible people see the current executive pay packages as anything but the result of an extremely corrupt process. Though if their personal pocketbook is helped by justifying the current practices, some people find a way to make a case for it. But excluding those with an incentive to be blind, it is accepted as a critical problem.
More people understand the huge problems with our patent and copyright systems everyday, but the understanding is still quite limited. Originally copyright and patents were created to provide a government granted monopoly to a creator in order to reward that creator for contributing to the development of society. Copyrights and patents are government granted interventions in the free market. They are useful. They are wise policy.
My New Book: Management Matters
I have a new book in progress: Management Matters. It is now available in “pre-release format” via leanpub. The idea I am experimenting with (supported by leanpub) is pre-publishing the book online. The ebook is available for purchase now, and comes with free access to the updates.
My plan is to continue working on the book for the next few months and have it “release ready” by October, 2012. One of the advantages of this method is that I can incorporate ideas based on feedback from the early readers of the book.
There are several other interesting aspects to publishing in this way. Leanpub allows a suggested retail price, and a minimum price. So I can set a suggested price and a minimum price and the purchaser gets to decide what price to pay (they can even pay over suggested retail price – which does happen). The leanpub model provides nearly all the revenue to the author (unlike traditional models) – the author gets 90% of the price paid, less 50 cents per book (so $8.50 of a $10 purchase).
They provide the book in pdf, mobi (Kindle) and epub (iPad, Nook, etc.) formats. And the books do not have any Digital Rights Management (DRM) entanglements.
Management Matters covers topics familiar to those who have been reading this blog for years. It is an attempt to put in one place the overall management system that is most valuable (which as you know, based on the blog, is largely based upon Dr. Deming’s ideas – which means lean manufacturing are widely covered too).
I hope the book is now in a state where those who are interested would find it useful, but it is in what I consider draft format. I still have much editing to do and content to add.
Leanpub also provides a sample book (where a portion of the content can be downloaded to decide if you want to buy). If you are interested please give it a try and let me know your thoughts.
I like growing things. I think it is part the connection to system thinking I have had since I was a kid. I like finding ways to leverage my effort so that I put in a bit of thought and effort and then get to enjoy the fruits of that effort for a long time. This idea also guides my investing approach.
I planted a vegetable garden in my yard a few years ago. My strategy was to find methods that gained me what I wanted (yummy food) without much effort required from me. I don’t want to deal with persnickety plants. Basically I composted leaves, grass and yard waste. I put that into the garden spot and put in some seeds and small plants to see what would happen. I watered things a bit early on and if we had very little rain for a long time. But in general my attitude was, if I could get success with some plants with this level of effort that was good. Only if nothing would grow would I bother with more involvement from me.
Luckily it turned out great. Lots of great tomatoes and peppers and peas and beans and cucumbers and more, and very little effort from me.
I actually even had more success with wineberries. I didn’t even have to plant them (some bird probably seeded them for me and I just let them grow). It was wonderful for several years. Then I had a huge area with huge amounts of tasty berries: it was wonderful. Sadly then birds started to eat them before I go them and I got far fewer good berries than before. The berries were so good I went to effort to keep the birds from devastating my reward (to some success but with much effort). Oh well, I didn’t really mean to get onto that – those berries were just so great.
Now I am living in Malaysia and growing plants on my balcony. It is wonderful in many ways but one of the issues is I have to continually water the plants. Even though we get a great deal of rain, not nearly enough reaches the plants (and also the dirt doesn’t retain the water well – especially given the small volume of the containers). So if I want the fresh vegetables I have to continually water the plants. This goes against my desire to plant seeds and let me sit back and enjoy the bounty of my limited efforts (ok it is still pretty limited).
Why Use Lean if So Many Fail To Do So Effectively
Lots of us are not. I would say the efforts I see “fail” are because they don’t do it. They have something they call TQM, six sigma, lean management or whatever and try out 10-30% of it in some half-measures, with big doses of Dilbert’s pointy haired boss methods and then don’t get great results. Wow.
The biggest complaint (with some merit) I see is why is lean/Deming/six sigma… so hard to actually do. If companies constantly fail to do it at all (even when they use the name) isn’t that an issue. Isn’t that a weakness of the “solution.” My answer is: yes. The caveat is, until someone comes up with the management system that both gets the results using Deming’s management ideas can, and is super easy for organizations to actually fully adopt (and have the great success that doing so provides) I know of nothing better than trying to do these things.
Certainly I believe you are much better off attempting to use Deming, lean or six sigma than listen to someone that tells you they have management instant pudding that will give you great results with no effort.
My belief is that a partial success rate is much higher than 1%. While many organization never go beyond slapping a few good tools on a outdated management system those few tools actually have good results. Maybe 50% of the implementations are so lame they have almost no positive results (not even getting improvement worth the time and effort). They could be seen as “failures,” to me. Those that actually have a right to say they are practicing “lean” I would say is a pretty small number but still above 1%?
There is also an advantage to this stuff being hard to do. You really don’t have to invent anything new. If you just have persistence and keep continually improving along the path applying ideas proven over decades from Deming, Ohno, McGregor, Christensen, Drucker, Scholtes, Womack, Roger Hoerl (six sigma)… you have a great advantage over all those organizations that ignored the ideas or made a bit of effort and then gave up.
Related: Engage in Improving the Management System – Rethinking or Moving Beyond Deming Often Just Means Applying More of What Dr. Deming Actually Said – Management Advice Failures – Management Improvement Flavors – Has Six Sigma Been a Success?
Management Improvement Blog Carnival #157
The Curious Cat management blog carnival is published 3 times a month with hand picked recent management blog posts. I also collect management improvement articles for the Curious Cat Management Articles site; you can subscribe via RSS for new article additions.
- Maximize Test Coverage Efficiency And Minimize the Number of Tests Needed by John Hunter – “The steeper the slope the more efficient your test plan is. If you repeat the same tests of pairs and triples and… while not taking advantage of the chance to test, untested pairs and triples you will have to create and run far more test than if you intelligently create a test plan.”
- Listen to Your Community, But Don’t Let Them Tell You What to Do by Jeff Atwood – “Community feedback is great, but it should never be used as a crutch, a substitute for thinking deeply about what you’re building and why. Always try to identify what the underlying needs are, and come up with a sensible roadmap.”
- You must balance the principle of ‘build to takt’ with the principle of ‘heijunka,’ and the principle of ‘respect for people.’ by Jeff Liker – “By keeping some planned inventory, and using it in the right way, you can achieve a more leveled schedule, heijunka, which in the early TPS models was the foundation of TPS. Building to takt, pull, balancing the workload, and protecting the jobs of team members is not possible without heijunka.”
- Toyota University Lean Video – This video shows one of the lean training simulations developed by the experts at Toyota. As you can see, the game uses toy car manufacturing (what a surprise!) to illustrate pull production.
- The Apple Voice by Zach Holman – “Mechanically, The Apple Voice is characterized by short, declarative sentences that are informally and personally delivered to you with a hint of smugness.
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