Tag Archives: Peter Scholtes

Bill Hunter and Peter Scholtes

Topic: Management Improvement

I have recently updated Peter Scholtes‘ web site (author of the Team Handbook and the Leader’s Handbook) and created a new web site for my father: Bill Hunterwilliamghunter.net. They were friends and colleagues.

I frequently receive kind words from people who knew my father. A recent note:

I just thought I’d let you know how much I enjoyed your dad’s class as a grad student in 1979 at UW-Madison. I’m sure you’ve heard many comments like this, but I’ll add one more. He was a delightful and entertaining prof who clearly loved his subject. He made an impression on me one day by asking us a question about the British comedy radio program, The Goon Show, which I had heard. I think I was the only member of the class who raised his hand. After that moment, I always felt a special bond with him, because I thought it was great that he appreciated the wacky humor of that show.

I received a wonderful education at UW and your dad was no small part of it.

I have added a comments section on the site to post such notes. If you have a comment to share please send me a message to post. Even if only my relatives and I enjoy the notes, I think they are wonderful, so please send them in.

Performance Without Appraisal

In response to the Alternatives to Stack Ranking? post on the popular Mini-Microsoft blog.

I’m also taking some time to contemplate on Deming’s points and assess how Microsoft is doing against them.

What I would deeply appreciate is real-world experience from people living with stack ranking alternatives.

I strongly suggest chapter 9 (Performance Without Appraisal) of The Leader’s Handbooks, by Peter Scholtes. You mentioned Deming. When asked “If we eliminate performance appraisals, as you suggest, what do we do instead?” Dr. Deming’s reply: Whatever Peter Scholtes says.” (page 296).

Abolishing Performance Appraisals by Tom Coens and Mary Jenkins also provides great practical examples.

——————

Actually, I just noticed the previous post to the mini-microsoft blog pointed to us.

I keep looking at the books about how to grow beyond using industrial-era performance reviews (yes, anti-stack ranking books are out there). I don’t think I’ll be able to fit the books in so they’ll have to wait until I get back. But I am printing out for reading later some various anti-stank ranking articles I found, especially this one over at Curious Cat:

* Total Quality or Performance Appraisal: Choose One by Peter Scholtes.

The comments on the mini-microsoft blog shows performance appraisal continues to be an emotional topic. People on opposite sides of the debate are very passionate.

I admit it took me longer to accept Dr. Deming’s thoughts on performance appraisal than other ideas (and that is even with Peter Scholtes being a friend which gave me the opportunity to discuss the idea with him). So I understand it is not an easy concept to accept. Management Craft has also been focusing considerable energy on this topic recently.

This is the 100th post to the Curious Cat Management Improvement blog.

Previous Performance Without Appraisal post.

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? [broken link removed] – Survey results [broken link removed]

> 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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