Tag Archives: Peter Scholtes

Remembering Peter Scholtes

Guest Post by Fazel Hayati

Fall always reminds me of my friend Peter Scholtes. It was during 2008 annual Deming Institute fall conference in Madison, Wisconsin when Peter said farewell to his friends and colleagues. He gave a keynote titled Deming 101 (that full speech can be watched online). Although inactive for many years and managing numerous health challenges, he was sharp, witty and very happy to be talking about Dr. Deming, systems thinking, problems with performance appraisal, talking to his old friends and reminiscing. Anticipating this event had really energized him. He told me numerous times he was very grateful for the opportunity. He passed away in July 11, 2009.

Peter Scholtes, 2008

Peter Scholtes at Deming Conference in Madison, Wisconsin, 2008

Peter wrote two seminal books, both remain relevant years after their publication. The Team Handbook remains one of the best in developing teams and it has helped many organizations to improve quality and productivity through team building. The Leader’s Handbook is one of the best elaborations on Dr. Deming’s System of Profound Knowledge.

Peter articulated Dr. Deming’s teaching and incorporated his own experience in six competencies for leaders:

  1. The ability to think in terms of systems and knowing how to lead systems,
  2. the ability to understand the variability of work in planning and problem solving,
  3. understanding how we learn, develop, and improve; leading true learning and improvement,
  4. understanding people and why they behave as they do,
  5. understanding the interaction and interdependence between systems, variability, learning, and human behavior; knowing how each affects others (Figure 2-16, Page 44, Leader’s Handbook),
  6. giving vision, meaning, direction, and focus to the organization.

No one has done a better job of operationalizing Dr. Deming’s teachings.

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Best Selling Books In the Curious Cat Bookstore

The most popular books in July at Curious Cat Books were, Statistics for Experiments (1st edition), followed by Statistics for Experiments (2nd edition) and the Leader’s Handbook by Peter Scholtes. These books are great, I am happy others have been finding them and reading them. Statistics for Experimenters is co-authored by my father.

Top sellers so far this year (adding together all editions, including Kindle):
1) The Leader’s Handbook
2) Statistics for Experimenters
3) New Economics
4) Abolishing Performance Appraisals
5) The Team Handbook
6) Out of the Crisis

The Leader’s Handbook is far away in the lead. The order of popularity on Amazon overall: 1) Out of the Crisis, 2) New Economics, 3) The Team Handbook, 4) Abolishing Performance Appraisals, 5) Statistics for Experimenters and 6) The Leader’s Handbook. The only thing that surprises me with the overall numbers is the Leader’s Handbook. The Amazon rankings are hugely biased by recent activity (it isn’t close to a ranking of sales this year). Still I expected the Leader’s Handbook would rank very well. It is the first book I recommend for almost any situation (the only exceptions are if there is a very specific need – for example Statistics for Experimenters for multi-factorial designed experiments or The Improvement Guide for working on the process of improvement.

My guess is Curious Cat site users (and I am sure a fair number of people sent by search engines) are much more likely to buy those books I recommend over and over. Still many books I don’t promote are bought and some books I recommend consistently don’t rack up many sales through Curious Cat.

I started this as a simple Google+ update but then found it interesting enough to expand to a full post. Hopefully others find it interesting also.

Related: Using Books to Ignite ImprovementWorkplace Management by Taiichi OhnoProblems with Management and Business BooksManagement Improvement Books (2005)

An Introduction to Deming’s Management Ideas by Peter Scholtes (webcast)

An Introduction to Deming’s Management Teaching and Philosophy by Peter Scholtes – webcast from the Annual W. Edwards Deming Institute conference in Madison, Wisconsin, November 9th, 2008. My previous post on this speech: 6 Leadership Competencies.

Next month, the Annual Deming Institute conference will be held at Purdue on Oct 10th, 2009.

Related: Peter Scholtes’ LifeCurious Cat’s Deming on ManagementThe Leader’s HandbookPerformance without Appraisal

Peter Scholtes

photo of George Box, John Hunter and Peter Scholtes

photo of (from right to left) Peter Scholtes, John Hunter and George Box in Madison, Wisconsin at the 2008 Deming Conference

Peter Scholtes died peacefully this morning in Madison, Wisconsin. His family was with him.

My father wrote about the First Street Garage project in W. Edwards Deming’s Out of the Crisis (pages 245-247). Peter (who was working for the City of Madison at the time) and he became good friends working on that project together. Peter went to work for Joiner Associates afterwards and was a primary author of the Team Handbook. And Peter spent many years working with Dr. W. Edwards Deming and moving forward Dr. Deming’s ideas.

I would meet with Peter when consulted in Washington DC (which he did a good deal) and when I would visit Madison. He was extremely funny, compassionate, competent and effective. It was always a joy and educational to spend time with him. His Leader’s Handbook is the first management book I recommend to anyone. Peter enriched my life and the lives of many of others. And he will continue to do so through his works and those who were influenced by him.

Peter was a great friend and a wonderful person to talk with. I valued our shared interest in improving people’s lives by improving the practice of management. Peter was a priest before moving into management improvement. He retained his focus on helping people lead rewarding lives as a consultant. And we shared the desire to make the huge amount of time people spend working a much more rewarding experience. Making progress in that vein requires not just a wish to do so but the ability to learn and effectively apply ideas to affect real improvement. He was exceptionally gifted at this difficult task and was aided here, as with most things he did, by his considerable empathy and respect for others. His books provide evidence of this gift and effort. And those who were lucky enough to hear him speak enjoyed his ability to use humor to great affect in the effort.

In one of his last speeches, for example, when he speaking at the Deming conference (where the photo was taken) he used the action of kissing to underscore a point he was making about systems thinking and he described the challenges of gathering accurate data by recounting a radio interview he had heard about a research scientist who, in order to accurately assess the hibernation activities of bears, had to discretely sneak up on them during hibernation and well… take their temperatures in a non-genteel way.

I am very lucky to have developed friendship’s with several of my father’s friends. The photo shows me with two during my last visit to Madison: Peter and George Box.

It was a happy surprise when I found out Peter Scholtes wrote They Will Know We are Christians by our Love (link to a nice mp3 recording of the song). I think it is a wonderful song. Here are the words to that song (and a webcast is below):

We are one in the spirit we are one in the Lord
We are one in the spirit we are one in the Lord
And we pray that all unity will one day be restored

And they’ll Know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Yes they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

We will walk with each other we will walk hand in hand
We will walk with each other we will walk hand in hand
And together we’ll spread the news that God is in our land.

We will work with each other we will work side by side
We will work with each other we will work side by side
And we’ll guard each man’s dignity and save each man’s pride

All praise to the father from whom all things come
And all praise to Christ Jesus his only son
And all praise to the spirit who makes us one.

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6 Leadership Competencies

photo of George Box, John Hunter and Peter Scholtes

At the recent Annual W. Edwards Deming Institute Annual conference (this year held in Madison, Wisconsin) Peter Scholtes gave an excellent speech on the 6 Leadership Competencies from his book: The Leader’s Handbook. Those competencies are:

  • The ability to think in terms of systems, and knowing how to lead systems.
  • The ability to understand the variability of work in planning an problem solving
  • Understanding how we learn, develop and improve. Leading true learning and improvement.
  • Understanding people and why they behave as they do.
  • Understanding the interdependence and interaction between systems, variation, learning and human behavior. Knowing how each affects the other.
  • Giving visions, meaning, direction and focus to the organization.

As those familiar with Dr. Deming will immediately note those are very closely tied to Deming’s 4 areas of management. I am a friend (and manage Peter’s website so I am biased) but as I have said before anyone interested in management should read his book (the competencies are discussed in chapter 2).

The photo shows George Box, John Hunter and Peter Scholtes (from left to right) at the MAQIN reception the night before the conference. Two previous mayors of Madison introduced Peter’s talk: Paul Soglin and Joe Sensenbrenner.

Related: ASQ Deming Medal to Peter ScholtesUsing Books to Ignite ImprovementManagement Improvement LeadersPerformance Without Appraisal

Performance Appraisal Problems

More and more people are willing to state the frustration with the performance appraisal process. Some have been willing to take the logical step of eliminating that which causes problems but many still don’t think elimination of performance appraisals is acceptable. Performance Reviews: Many Need Improvement

According to one study by Watson Wyatt, the human resources consulting firm, only 3 in 10 employees believed that their companies’ performance review system actually improved performance. In another study by the firm, almost half of the employers surveyed thought that their managers were at best only slightly effective in helping underperforming employees to improve.

Mary Jenkins, a co-author of Abolishing Performance Appraisals: Why They Backfire and What to Do Instead advocates a system in which employees themselves seek feedback from people they work with or who have skills they seek, then review a self-designed growth plan with their supervisor. She is using this approach at Genesys Health System in Michigan, where she is vice president for organizational learning and development.

When the Wei dynasty in China rated the performance of its household members in the third century A.D., the philosopher Sin Yu noted that “an imperial rater of nine grades seldom rates men according to their merits, but always according to his likes and dislikes.”

I would go with the elimination of performance appraisals, myself (see related links below for details). I strongly suggest chapter 9 (Performance Without Appraisal) of The Leader’s Handbook, by Peter Scholtes, for those thinking about this topic.

Related: Don’t Use Performance AppraisalsContinuous, Constructive FeedbackPerformance Appraisals – Is Good Execution the Solution?Performance Without Appraisal

Conference Calls with Scholtes and Joiner

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne’s Enterprise Thinking Network Ongoing Discussion series this month features conference calls with Peter Scholtes (Thursday, September 25th, Noon to 2pm Pacific Time – USA) and Brian Joiner (Friday the 26th, Noon to 2pm Pacific Time – USA). See more details and register online.

Peter’s books (The Team Handbook and The Leader’s Handbook) are thought pieces for Thursday’s conversation with Peter. As a place to begin the conversation with Peter, we might consider the possibility that teamwork and leadership are perhaps even more in our awareness today than when Peter wrote these books. And if you’d like to explore more of Peter’s thinking and writing, see also a variety of articles and letters by and about Peter at his website.

Brian has offered us several Thought Pieces related to his current work. According to Brian, “The thing I am most excited about now is the Transition Towns movement which started in the UK a few years ago. It’s what I will be focusing on once the First Unitarian Society green building is effectively launched.” In addition, the following site gives a brief intro to the Transition Town approach, with much more detail on the Transition approach available in their Primer. Says Brian, “I hope this will be enough to start conversations.”

Both Brian and Peter are from Madison, Wisconsin (where I grew up) and both worked with my father: Bill Hunter. Brian Joiner also wrote Fourth Generation Management and co-authored the Team Handbook with Peter.

Related: Curious Cat Essential Management BooksBrain Joiner on Dr. DemingTotal Quality Leadership vs. Management by Control by Brian L. Joiner and Peter R. Scholtes

ASQ Deming Medal to Peter Scholtes

I am happy that the ASQ Deming Medal was presented to Peter R. Scholtes:

for his efforts to inspire others to transform organizations by helping managers understand how successful leadership of people requires an understanding of the interdependencies among knowledge about variation, psychology, appreciation for a system, and the theory of knowledge. The Deming Medal is presented to those who, like Dr. Deming, have successfully combined the application of statistical thinking and management so that each supports and enhances the other, thus leading to quality in products and services.

I have known Peter since he worked with my father applying Deming’s ideas at the City of Madison. And since then I have had the pleasure to enjoy his company over the years in many arenas including at many Hunter Conferences, the Office of Secretary of Defense Quality Management Office, Deming Institute meetings and managing his web site.

His Leader’s Handbook is a great, practical and easy to read management book. I recommend it highly. The Team Handbook is also excellent for working with teams.

Related: ASQ 2007 AwardsIncentive Programs are IneffectiveASQ Deming Medalistsrecommended management improvement books

Performance without Appraisal

re: Managing with Trust post from Coding Horror

This interesting post includes the quote:

It seems cheap to dispatch [performance reviews] without suggesting some alternative.”

Dr. Deming would mention Peter Scholtes thoughts on why performance appraisals were bad management when asked about his belief that performance appraisals should be eliminated. In the short article Performance Without Appraisal: What to do Instead of Performance Appraisals, Peter wrote:

Dr. Deming said of Performance Appraisals, “Stop doing them and things will get better.” He was correct. Many organizations, however, wonder what to do instead.

For those that do require “some alternative” Peter included some good ideas in The Leader’s Handbook(see chapter 9 “Performance without Appraisal pages 293 to 368). This chapter has excellent material for any manager. In the interest of full disclosure I not only think Peter’s ideas are great I consider him a friend and host his web site (he is retired).

Abolishing Performance Appraisals: Why They Backfire and What to Do Instead by Tom Coens, Mary Jenkins (forward by Peter Block), 2000, is another excellent source of “what to do instead.”

I think the Managing with Trust post has some good ideas but I don’t agree with everything. “In order to manage a project, you have to objectively measure what your teammates are doing.” I don’t agree with this quote. I agree you must manage a project and “that trusting your team is not a substitute for managing them.” However a manager must manage many unmeasurable factors. The stuff that can be measured is the easy part. The largest part of the job is managing the things that are unmeasurable.

Deming explores the idea of rating people on page 109 of Out of the Crisis and states “fair rating is impossible.” He goes on to explore what is commonly known as the “red bead experiment” where he shows an example of how easy it is to assign numbers to people to aid in managing. But the experiment actually shows how easy it is to be distracted by numbers instead of actually managing. It is easier to make decisions based just on the numbers you have than to take on the challenging task of managing. And to help this process along it is easier to reduce employees to simple numbers (ratings or rankings) than to deal with the complexity and interdependence that actually exists.

The Managing with Trust post also mentions Tom Demarco. I am in the midst of reading the second edition of Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams by Tom Demarco, Timothy Lister and it is an excellent book.

Who Influences Your Thinking?

Comments on Who Influences Your Thinking?Survey results

> 1. Are people getting most of their information
> from other sources?
That would be my guess.

Similar to the phenomenon of “the long tail” which is an interesting topic in its own right. We tend to focus on the popular few (books, musicians, movies, authors, computer programs…) but often the sum of the less popular many is more significant. See:

  • The Long Tail, by Chris Anderson, Wired, Oct 2004 “The average Barnes & Noble carries 130,000 titles. Yet more than half of Amazon’s book sales come from outside its top 130,000 titles. Consider the implication: If the Amazon statistics are any guide, the market for books that are not even sold in the average bookstore is larger than the market for those that are”
  • Continued discussion of the Amazon figures in a Chiris Anderson’s blog. “I’ve now spoken to Jeff Bezos (and others) about this. He doesn’t have a hard figure for the percentage of sales of products not available offline, but reckons that it’s closer to 25-30%.”
  • The long tail – a secret sauce for companies like Amazon.com, Netflix and Apple Computer, Motley Fool, NPR Audio Recording

Getting back to the question raised by the “Who Influences Your Thinking” post; More importantly I believe they (we) are just failing to get all we should.
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