Tag Archives: change

Transforming a Management System – A Case Study From the Madison Wisconsin Police Department

This post in an excerpt from The Quality Leadership Workbook for Police by Chief David Couper and Captain Sabine Lobitz (buy via Amazon).

cover image of the New Quality Leadership Workbook for Police

The New Quality Leadership Workbook for Police

Transformational Steps
A Case Study Madison, Wisconsin (1981-1993)

Step 1: Educate and inform everyone in the organization about the vision, the goals, and Quality Leadership. This step must be passionately led by the top leader.

  • Begin discussion with top management team and train them.
  • Discuss and ask employees; get feedback from them.
  • Share feedback with the chief and his management team.
  • Get buy-in from top department managers.
  • Survey external customers—citizens; those who live and work in the community.
  • Create an employee’s advisory council; ask, listen, inform, and keep them up to date on what’s going on.
  • The chief keeps on message; tells, sells, and persuades, newsletters, meetings and all available media.

Step 2: Prepare for the transformation. Before police services to the community can be improved, it is essential to prepare the inside first — to cast a bold vision and to have leaders that would “walk the talk.”

  • Appoint a top-level, full-time coordinator to train, coach, and assist in the transformation.
  • Form another employee council to work through problems and barriers encountered during implementation of the transformation and Quality Leadership.
  • Require anyone who seeks to be a leader to have the knowledge and ability to practice Quality Leadership.

Step 3: Teach Quality Leadership. This begins at the top with the chief and the chief’s management team.

  • Train all organizational leaders in Quality Leadership.
  • Train all employees as to what Quality Leadership is, why the transformation is necessary, and what it means for them.

Step 4: Start practicing Quality Leadership. If top managers within the organization are not authentically practicing Quality Leadership neither will anyone else.

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Revolutionary Management Improvement May Be Needed But Most Management Change is Evolutionary

This month the ASQ Influential Bloggers were asked to respond to the question – will the future of quality be evolutionary or revolutionary?

I think it has been and will continue to be both.

Revolutionary change is powerful but very difficult for entrenched people and organizations to actually pull off. It is much easy to dream about doing so.

Often even revolutionary ideas are adopted in a more evolutionary way: partial adoption of some practices based on the insight provided by the revolutionary idea. I think this is where the biggest impact of W. Edwards Deming’s ideas have been. I see him as the most revolutionary and worthwhile management thinker we have had. But even so, few organizations adopted the revolutionary ideas. Most organizations nibbled on the edges and still have a long way to go to finally get to a management system he was prompting 30,40 or more years ago.

A few organizations really did some revolutionary things based on Deming’s ideas, for example: Toyota. Toyota had some revolutionary moves and adopted many revolutionary ideas brought forward by numerous people including Taichii Ohno. But even so the largest impact has been all those that have followed after Toyota with the lean manufacturing strategies.

And most other companies have taken evolutionary steps from old management paradigms to adopt some new thinking when trying out lean thinking. And frankly most of those efforts are so misguided or incredible small they barely qualify. But for those that successfully improved their management system they were mainly evolutionary.

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Gerald Suarez on Creating the Future

I was lucky enough to be hired by Gerald Suarez to work for him at the White House Military Office. The webcast below is speech he gave at TedX Loyola Marymount.

The illusion of knowledge is more dangerous that ignorance.

Without the proper foundation for planning for the future (contemplation and desire),

our design will be incomplete. It will be like trying to build a house with no foundation. We become addicted to shallow metrics of success where more and bigger is better.

In talking to a senior executive at a Fortune 500 company about a promotion to VP that the executive doesn’t want to take because of all that accepting the VP position would require.

Executive: If I say no it will ruin my career
Gerald: But if you say yes it will ruin your life, which is worse?

I see similar situations and most of the time people “chose” career without much thought. They don’t think they have options. I am traveling around China now after presenting a seminar for The W. Edwards Deming Institute in Hong Kong.

I decided I didn’t want to spend my life working “9 to 5.” There are tradeoffs. It sure is nice having a nice paycheck every 2 weeks without much risk. But control of my life mattered more. My choice is more extreme than most. But I believe people need to consciously question what they want out of life and make those choices by considering their options. Too many people don’t take the time to realize they have many more choices than they ever consider.

Gerald quotes a very apt Turkish proverb

No matter how long you have been on the wrong road, turn back.

This is often hard, and gets harder the longer we are on the wrong road. Sunk costs often pull us in the direction of continuing on the path we invested so much in. It makes all the sense to turn back if it is the wrong path, but our psychology often makes it hard to act in that way.

Gerald’s book, Leader of One: Shaping Your Future through Imagination and Design, was just released.

Related: Transformation and Redesign at the White House Communications Agency (WHCA) Better Thinking About LeadershipThink Long Term, Act DailyBuild an Environment Where Intrinsic Motivation FlourishesDr. Russell Ackoff Webcast on Systems Thinking

Double Loop Learning Presentation by Benjamin Mitchell


Benjamin Mitchell – Using the Mutual Learning Model to achieve Double Loop Learning [the original video is not online anymore, I replaced it with another presentation by Benjamin on the same topic at a different conference at close to the same time – JH]

Benjamin Mitchell presents ideas using Chris Argyris thinking on double-loop learning. “Double-loop learning occurs when error is detected and corrected in ways that involve the modification of an organization’s underlying norms, policies and objectives.”

Single loop learning is basically to just try again using the same understanding, thinking and tactics. It is understood that the results were not what was desired so we will try again, but the supporting system is not seen as the reason results were not the desired results. Double loop learning is when the result leads to questioning the system and attempting to adjust the system and make changes and experiment to learn to be able to create systems that get better results.

Argyris: people will blame others and the system when their actions seem to differ from their espoused proper actions. (I see this as similar to the idea of revealed preference versus stated preference: revealed actions versus stated actions – John)

Related: People are Often IrrationalDouble Loop Learning in Organizations
by Chris Argyris
Theory of knowledgeRethinking or Moving Beyond Deming Often Just Means Applying More of What Dr. Deming Actually Said

Management Improvement Carnival #133

photo of Tree at the Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve The Curious Cat management blog carnival is published 3 times a month with select recent management blog posts. I also collect management improvement articles through Curious Cat Management Articles, you can subscribe via RSS to new article additions.

  • Why I can’t convince executives to invest in UX (and neither can you) by Jared Spool “Neither I, you, nor anybody else can convince an executive to invest in user experience… You’ll need to do something custom. Something specific to their current focus. And if that doesn’t work, maybe it’s time for you to find someplace else to work. Someplace where the executives are already convinced and want to make the investment.” [You can substitute “lean, six sigma, customer focus or any other wise management strategy for UX in the quote above. – John Hunter]
  • Jeff Bezos on innovation at Amazon – Jeff Bezos: “If you invent frequently and are willing to fail, then you never get to that point where you really need to bet the whole company… We are stubborn on vision. We are flexible on details…. We don’t give up on things easily. Our third-party seller business is an example of that. It took us three tries to get the third-party seller business to work. We didn’t give up.”
  • Kanban and Shifting the Burden by Karl Scotland – “The Containment action is the symptomatic solution taken to resolve the problem quickly. Then, after root cause analysis, the Countermeasure action is the fundamental solution to prevent repeated recurrence.”
  • The Iceberg That Sinks Performance by Dan Markovitz – “Time management ‘problems’ are really just manifestations of dysfunction in one or more of the following areas: strategy; priorities; internal systems and processes; corporate cultural expectations; or individual skills.”
  • About that bus … by Wally Bock – “This is the kind of guru advice where the principle (get the best people you can) is good, but to use it you have to deal with reality that’s a lot messier than it seems in the books. “
  • Drucker and Executive Compensation – Are CEOs Paid Too Much? by Robert Swaim – “Few people- and probably no one outside the executive suite – sees much reason for these very large executive compensations. There is little correlation between them and company performance.” Peter F. Drucker, The Frontiers of Management, 1986.
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Management Improvement Internal Experts

Having a group of internal experts in Deming, lean thinking, six sigma, etc. can be an good way to help the organization transform but they must 1) practice respect for people and 2) focus on building organizational capacity. Having, for example a few experts that are very focused on lean thinking and can be tapped by others in the organization I think can be very useful.

That group might well also serve as “change agents” which can make some people get mad at them. They can help push the organization to change. While it might be nice to think you can just show the wonderfulness that is lean thinking and everyone will immediately drop all their old habits and embrace lean thinking that often doesn’t happen. You might well have to push middle mangers (and others) outside their comfort zone. And you might well have to push people to really try this stuff and they have become so disheartened over the years by promises of new, better, ways to work. They just see this as one more lame pointy haired boss attempt and they may well not want to play.

A big focus should be on making improvement in the performance of the organization, obviously, but also on making it clear that this new way of doing things is helpful and will make it a better place to work. The role of internal management improvements efforts is to build the capacity of the rest of the organization to improve. Six sigma efforts often instead put the emphasis on six sigma experts doing the improvement instead of coaching and providing assistance to those who best know the processes to improve, which I see as a mistake.

Response to The “Lean Group” Syndrome
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Change How Your Business Changes

[They seem to have broken the webcast so I have delete it. How sad it is how poor a job well financed organizations to at maintaining what they put online.]

John Kotter believes technology and globalization are requiring us to change more rapidly. “It is very difficult to innovate without requiring people to do something different.” If an organization culture is mainly avoiding making anyone uncomfortable, innovation and improvement are quite difficult.

Improvement is required to stay in business today. The key to good management systems is how rapidly improvement is achieved, not that improvement is being made.

Related: Communicating ChangeProcess Improvement and InnovationBuilding on Successful ImprovementHow to Improve

More Management Blog Posts From January 2006

energy chart

  • Great Charts – The lack of such effective visual display of information is another example of how much improvement could be made just by applying ideas that are already published.
  • Change is not Improvement – if you have to document how you will know the change is successful it makes it more difficult to change for just the appearance of improvement.
  • Management Excellence – Most management practices cannot be plugged into any organization and work well. That practice must be applied in a sensible way given the organizational system.
  • China now the 5th Largest Economy – China’s economy grew 9.9 percent in 2005, overtaking France as the world’s fifth largest, powered by exports and investment in factories, roads and power plants.
  • Zero Defects – eliminating defects that get to customers (and even those that don’t) is wise. But doing should be as the result of continually improving your processes. I do not believe you succeed by declaring your goal to be zero defects. You succeed by creating a culture of never ending improvement, of customer focus, of fact based decision making, of learning…

Federal Government Chief Performance Officer

A Quality Manager for Obama

President-Elect Obama has hired a quality manager, and her name is Nancy Killefer. She is the newly appointed “Chief Performance Officer” whose mandate is to manage budget reforms while eliminating waste in government processes, ultimately making it more effective. An MIT & McKinsey alum, Time calls her the “first official waste watchdog.”

Previous administrations have had exactly the same thing (regardless what Time magazine says), so I don’t think we should get carried away. Eliminating wasteful government spending is a refrain from every new administration. She will be running the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and have this new title “Chief Performance Officer.” OMB has been the official waste watchdog, for at least decades. They are far from understanding muda. Time will tell if there is any change on that score going forward, I am skeptical.

Here is very typical OMB language from a 1995 memo by Alice M. Rivlin, Director of OMB:

Management controls are the organization, policies, and procedures used to reasonably ensure that (i) programs achieve their intended results; (ii) resources are used consistent with agency mission; (iii) programs and resources are protected from waste, fraud, and mismanagement; (iv) laws and regulations are followed; and (v) reliable and timely information is obtained, maintained, reported and used for decision making.

I worked with improving management in the federal government at the Office of Personnel Management, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Quality Management Office and the White House Military Office. I was one of the founders of the ASQ Public Sector Network (now Government Division) and have managed the Public Sector Continuous Improvement Site since 1995. There have been plenty of great efforts to improve management in government that have made real progress. But there is much more that needs to be done.

There are complications in applying management improvement in government but they are fairly minor comparatively. In general, the difficulty is not the necessary adjustments for a different environment than the private sector, but similar challenges to improving private sector management.

In 1982, The Grace Commission provided a report to the Regan Administration. Radio Address to the Nation on the Management of the Federal Government by Ronald Reagan, October 29, 1988

“We also set up the Private Sector Survey on Cost Control led by Peter Grace — almost 200 top business executives. This Commission spent months looking at every part of the Government, finding out where modern business practices could eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse in the Government. When they were through, they’d come up with 2,478 suggestions. And almost every recommendation we could put into effect without congressional action has been implemented. And we’ve saved close to $80 billion. We’re hoping that the next Congress will pitch in and do its part.”

The Clinton administration had the National Performance Review which was the closest thing to an attempt to move toward my concept of management improvement.

The current administration had their own President’s Management Agenda. Government Accountability: Efforts to Identify and Eliminate Waste and Mismanagement Hearing before the Committee on International Relations, House of Representatives, September 4, 2003.
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Communicating Change

Response to: Sales Compensation Plan Changes [the broken link has been removed]

I believe the best way to communicate such changes is to explain how they tie into the long term vision of the organization. This requires that such a vision actually exists (which is often not the case). Then all strategies are communicated based on how they support and integrate with that vision. In addition that communication strategy incorporates an understanding about what weaknesses with past practices are addressed by this new strategy. And how this strategy is based upon what we have learned in strategies we have attempted recently.

That is the communication plan shows how using the PDSA improvement cycle has driven the new strategy. This has at least 2 benefits. First it forces management (well ok not quite, it forces them to frame the decision with PDSA but it encourages them to) actually use the PDSA cycle to make decisions which will result in better decisions. Which will also mean, when possible they will have piloted the change on a small scale prior to adopting it widely (avoiding major mistakes and allowing for more rapid experimentation). And secondly it reinforces that everyone should be using PDSA for those changes they are responsible for.

Most often there is no continuity or rigorous examination of past attempts in communicating change. In such situations I see no reason to be surprised that most people just see random changes by whoever is in charge that just must be survived until the next random change.

Free, Perfect and Now is a great book by a CEO at Marshall Industries that eliminated sales commissions as an integrated strategy to improve the performance of the entire organization. I think it is a great book on this topic.

Maybe I should also say that this isn’t a particularly easy way to communicate change (having to actually examine evidence prior to making decisions, then explain how new strategies support…). But I am not looking for the easiest way to communicate change but the most effective way to continually improve. Communication change is important as a supporting process within the systemic goal of continuous improvement. The easiest communication strategy is not important. The most effective methods for the entire system are. That is sub optimize the ease of communication for the benefit of the whole. If you want an easy communication strategy just send an email that says this is how we will do things from now on.

Related: Making Changes and Taking Risks in the Sales ForceCorporate Communication Through BloggingImproving CommunicationStop Demotivating Me!