April 3, 2019. The day started out like any other in Cedar City as I pulled up outside an unassuming metal building with a Southern Utah University flag flapping in the wind. I was here to attend the 3rd Annual Bryce Canyon Society Forum, a collaborative effort between The Deming Institute and Southern Utah University, and learn more about a man named Deming that I’d been studying in my Introduction to Public Administration class.
Tables were spread about, inciting questions and beckoning us to sit and talk, the room quickly beginning to fill with students, community members, educators, administrators—human beings—all excited to learn together in SUU’s Aviation hangar. A hangar full of innovation and feats we once thought were impossible.
Oh, and did I mention that there were also helicopters and airplanes?
Right away, we knew we were in a place that had been changed; and that was going to change us. We were introduced to the power of Deming with a tale of a small aviation program on the brink of being shut down that embraced systems and turned it around to become nationally recognized and continues to grow this day. And that was just the beginning of a day filled with before and after stories that not only inspired but testified to the capacity of Deming’s Philosophy.
I came in with a goal to learn more and improve my organization; I left with an aim to approach every situation with a passionate curiosity. I found my own voice, by recognizing that I was a part of a greater system. I learned that “Deming” is more than a man; it’s an idea, a way of life, a way of thinking about the world that you just have to be willing to be open to. In simple words, by the time I left, I was inspired; and I wasn’t the only one.
Fellow Master’s of Public Administration student, Haley Swenson, said about the conference, “I knew some information about the Deming methodology prior to going to the conference. But I was highly intrigued… it got me to look outside of some of the theories I make each day and variable in the business I work in.” Christine Bonnett, another student, affirmed: “The Deming Institute Forum was an amazing conference!” And just by the feel in the air as we all listened and learned together, it was easy to see that those feelings were everywhere.
The Bryce Canyon Deming Forum was a chance to bring minds together. We all came in with varying levels of knowledge of the world and of Deming; but we left with an understanding of who we were, who we could be, and how we could get there.
It was a wonderful day and a thunderous opportunity to learn, have fun, and make a difference.