Quality is a Journey to Excellence

I recently uncovered this 2 day management seminar that Bill Hunter (my father) recorded in 1985 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The embedded clip shows the first section of a the seminar.

There is a bit of presentation that is outdated (mainly about general economic conditions and specific business conditions from the 1980s). If you don’t have the patience to sit through that (I find it useful but I can understand some people won’t want to listen to that part) just skip to about 21 minutes in and you will get great ideas of improving the management of our organizations today. You may even want to skip to about 36 minutes into the video if your attention span is less open to taking in a bit of background material.

In the section of the talk included here Bill discusses:

  • Bigger Picture (economic conditions and history)
  • Introducing Deming (as a person)
  • Quality Improvement as Driver

US companies seem to be like a train. Up at the front there is the engine and that is where the motor is and this is what pulls the train along. The big bosses tell everyone what to do and then everybody does it…

In Japan, we like to run things differently. The engine is not just up in front and we all follow. We want to have all the employees have their own motors, start their own engines and that is much more powerful.

One would hope the model of designing business to treat employees with respect and enable everyone to think and act based on their knowledge and function would be widespread 40 years after this presentation. While I do think some businesses have learned to be less driven by a few bosses telling everyone how things must be done, overall USA businesses still fail to use the brains and drive all of their employees possess. See: Managing Our Way to Economic Success by William Hunter.

Business and Labor—from Adversaries to Allies by Donald Scobel was published in 1982 (I believe this is the article Bill referred to in the talk, though I could be wrong about that). In response to the article Russell Schrader, field representative AFL-CIO, wrote:

The present system in the US has not provided for any meaningful contribution from the workers themselves to improve the methods of production and the quality of work life. They have no opportunity to exercise their judgement, imagination, creativity or versatility in ways that could contribute to their productivity and sense of dignity. It is no surprise that they undergo frustration and discouragement, feelings certainly not apt to contribute to their efficiency. The solution to our productivity problem is the necessity for management and labor to recognize the intrinsic value of the human being.

In a response to that quote, Donald Scobel wrote:

In the last 4 years while researching the article, I have heard employees say over and over again in their own vernacular: “I want to contribute more than the organization will let me.”

Links to items mentioned in the presentation: text of the 1950 Dr. Deming talk in JapanMy First Trip to Japan by Peter Scholtes – “Building a Quality Movement,” with E. Chacko, August, 1972, Quality Progress (Bill mentioned talking to Deming about building a country-wide quality effort before bill spent a year and half as a professor in Singapore)

When the Japanese talk about quality control a better translation into English would be excellence. It is a much more all encompassing idea than what we think of as quality control.

When the Japanese talk about quality, it means not only the quality of the product, the quality of the processes producing the product, the quality of the designs that go into processes and the product, quality people, quality systems, quality everything. Quality service, just quality through and through everywhere. What they are really talking about is a new way to manage and run organizations.

Ishikawa talks about it as a thought revolution for managers. And that is what a lot of visitors to Japan have just missed.

Bill ends this portion of the presentation by saying “Quality is a journey, not a destination.”

Related : Interview of Bill Hunter, Brian Joiner and Peter Scholtes on Better Management PracticesDeming and innovationWhat is Total Quality Control the Japanese Way by Kaoru Ishikawa – Bill Hunter and the Quality Movement (by George Box)

This entry was posted in Deming, Management, Respect, Systems thinking, webcast and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *