Tag Archives: Peter Scholtes

Peter Scholtes on Teams and Viewing the Organization as a System

In this presentation Peter Scholtes provides an explanation of teams within the context of understanding an organization of a system:

We will not improve our ability to achieve our purpose by empowering people or holding people accountable. I know that those are fashionable words but what they have in common that I think is the wrong approach is that they still are focused on the people and not on the systems and processes. I’m sure that will trigger quite a bit of conversation and perhaps some questions.

He is right, though those are difficult old thoughts to break from for many. He does a good job of explaining how to seek better methods to achieve more success in this presentation and in the Leader’s Handbook. Following the links in the quote above will also provide more details on Peter’s thoughts.

Peter includes a description of the creation of the “organization chart” (which Peter calls “train wreck management”) that we are all familiar with today; it was created in the Whistler report on a Western Railroad accident in 1841.

Almost a direct quote from the Whistler report: “so when something goes wrong we know who was derelict in his duty.” The premise behind the traditional organizational chart is that systems are ok (if we indeed recognize that there are such things as systems) things are ok if everyone would do his or her job. The cause of problems is dereliction of duty.

Peter then provides an image of W. Edwards Deming’s organization as a system diagram which provides a different way to view organizations.

In the old way of viewing organizations you look for culprits, in this way of viewing the organization you look for inadequacies in the system. In the old way of viewing the organization when you ask “whom should we please” the answer is your boss. In this way of viewing an organization when you ask “whom should we please” the answer is our customers.

This is an absolutely great presentation: I highly recommend it (as I highly recommend Peter’s book: The Leader’s Handbook).

Without understanding a systems view of an organization you can’t understand whats at the heart of the quality movement and therefore everything else you do, management interventions, ways of relating to people, will reflect more likely the old philosophy rather than the new one.

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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 [the broken link was removed] 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 [the broken link was removed] 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 [the broken link was removed]. 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

Incentive Programs are Ineffective

Reward and Incentive Programs are Ineffective — Even Harmful by Peter Scholtes

The greatest management conceit is that we can “motivate” people. We can’t. Motivation is there, inside people. Our people were motivated when we hired them and everyday, when they come to work, they arrive with the intention of doing a good job. Managers cannot motivate. They can, however, de-motivate. Herzberg established this over 30 years ago (Herzberg, Frederick “One More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees?” Harvard Business Review, September-October 1987, pp. 109-120. This is a reprint with commentary, of an earlier classic paper.)

The greatest managerial cynicism is that workers are withholding a certain amount of effort that must be bribed from them by means of various incentives, rewards, contests, or merit pay programs.

Related: Stop Demotivating EmployeesPerformance Without Appraisalblog posts on respect for peopleEliminate SlogansThe Leader’s HandbookTheory X management