Deming Research Seminar Round Table Session

Guest post by Dave Nave:

I will lead one of the round table sessions at this year’s Deming Research Seminar (25th and 26th February 2013 in New York City). I thought I would share a little something of my topic. Two other roundtables will also be held: on Education led by Dr. Francis Petit and healthcare led by Dr. Curt Wegner.

During last year’s Deming Research Seminar’s ‘Round-Table Discussion’ titled “The Challenges of Change” by Gordan Hall, part of the discussion moved in the direction of ‘how can we convince leaders/executives to embrace Dr. Deming’s teachings.’ During that conversation I made a statement about how I’ve heard that same question asked for several decades. I began thinking out loud that ‘we’ (the people who attend Deming based conferences/seminars) are using the wrong thinking and/or language to send our message, to connect to leaders. Since this was a sudden ‘flash bulb’ type thought, I could not elaborate on my thinking at that time. But I kept that idea stored away for future exploration.

During the spring and summer, the Seattle Deming Study Group reviewed William Scherkenbach’s book ‘Deming’s Road to Continual Improvement.’ During that review I saw a potential relationship between the ‘emotional/logical/physical’ distinction made in his book, an article I wrote about an Improvement Triad (process/product/management), the art of selling (feature vs benefit), and my statement about using the wrong type of language.

My conclusion that what I was hearing at last year’s roundtable discussion was ‘Logical’ thinking and language, trying very hard to make an emotional argument for persuasion to buy (or embrace) Dr. Deming’s theories. Most of the people I meet at the conferences/seminars are trying to use rational/logical explanation to sell (persuade). However, in the field of selling, the decision to purchase is based on as much an emotion decision as any other factor. Trying to explain emotion by using logical reasoning might be the problem.

The next step is to extend this thinking into something actionable. Something that is beneficial and usable to a manager. To that end, I created a matrix, consisting of one column labeled emotional/logical/physical and another column with management/product/process. With each category having definitions, or key points. So far the only way I can figure out how to use this matrix is to help managers define the message intent from one level to another.

Would defining the message between these six elements help expose categories for consideration when planning or managing an organization? What would the messages look like when advocating Dr. Deming’s teachings to industry, government, and education?

Next month’s Deming Research roundtable will be fun.

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