Tim Higgins provided the Deming 101 presentation at our 2016 annual conference – Curiosity, Learning, Knowledge, and Improvement:
Tim starts off by saying that some people think Deming’s life was about variation but Deming’s purpose for understanding variation was to learn. This insight is wise. Quotes are useful to provide focus but that can also serve to over-simplify. To understand Deming’s ideas you need to understand the context within which each quote resides. Understanding variation is important but within the entire context of his management system not as an isolated concept.
…we’re curious, we learn. You can’t stop a kid from learning, unless you put him in school. So Its part of who we are because we’re human. Bees make honey, people learn.
Throughout the presentation Tim does a good job of exploring the importance of our natural curiosity and the importance of a system view (understanding the connections between components not just understanding components individually).
He also discusses a point that might seem obvious but often seems to be overlooked
If you are going to collect data you need to get back to the fundamental question: why are we collecting this? What are we trying to learn? What are we going to do with that?
You need to understand what it [the data] is going to tell you about your system that might be useful?
Tim mentions Edward de Bono’s ideas at several points during the presentation. I also find de Bono’s ideas worth exploring and that his ideas and tools offer insight to aid those applying Deming’s ideas.