Deming Podcast: The Deming Journey at New York Label & Box Works

By John Hunter, founder of

In this episode of the Deming Podcast (download), Steven Haedrich, President of New York Label & Box Works, talks about the Deming journey at the company. Steven also talks about the relevance of the Deming teachings today and the keys to long-term success using the Deming method.

Steven Haedrich:

I knew performance appraisals were useless and a tremendous amount of time and a waste of time. His theory of systems thinking really showed me that it is less about the person and more about the leadership, the system they are working in, the tools you give them and the processes.

When I got rid of that [performance appraisals] I freed up a bunch of time. In todays world look at how many people still believe in performance appraisals that are really not doing anyone any good.

More places are adopting ideas Deming talked about decades ago every year, such as getting rid of performance appraisals. But so much of what Deming criticized is still the standard practice. It doesn’t take new innovative management ideas to gain a competitive advantage of the marketplace it merely takes using great management ideas that have been around a long time and are being ignored by most organizations.

screenshot from the New York Label and Box Works website
screenshot from the New York Label and Box Works website

Steven Haedrich:

The Deming chain reaction is an amazing theory that is not well know.

As a tip for success in transforming your organization, Steven mentions the importance of Deming’s guidance that you have to “have an outsider guide you through the transformation process” in order to improve your management system.

High turnover of management is a problem at many companies. New York Label has a very little turnover; the management team has been with them for 20 years, on average. As Steven says it is hard to understand the costs of turnover and the benefits of having the team work together for so long but in his experience having such consistency has really been valuable to their company.

When asked if Deming is still valid today, Steven replied:

I think the Deming management method is more relevant today, when you see all the problems of business…

The fact that I am not looking for something new and different is a testament to it, because it is so deep, it is so meaningful. It really touches on every aspect of business.

It is time tested. It is proven. It works. But it is not easy. It requires tremendous commitment from management. And it requires tremendous fortitude to go against the grain and to get people who have different, old school ways of thinking, get them on-board.

It does require continuous improvement. It isn’t a short term fix. Part of our societies problem is we’re looking for short term fixes.

Don’t miss listening to the entire podcast, Steven offered many more valuable insights that I haven’t included in the post.

Steven will be sharing his experiences at the 2014 Deming Institute Fall Conference (18-19 October 2014 in Los Angeles), in a presentation titled “Deming is it!”

Related: Application of Deming’s System of Profound Knowledge in HealthcareApplying Deming’s Management Thinking at PatagoniaDeming Podcast: Andrea Gabor on Management at Ford, GM and the USA Education System

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