Field report: 5th Annual Bryce Canyon Society Deming Forum

What happens when you mix McDonald’s apple pies, a little coffee, dynamic speakers, and a live demonstration of Dr. Deming’s Red Bead Experiment? Magical Deming learning!

On March 31st, Southern Utah University’s School of Aviation hosted the 5th Annual Deming Forum, with the largest turnout ever. A huge “thank you” to all of our speakers and volunteers for sharing their expertise and skills!

The action-packed day started with a welcome from Dr. Ravi Roy, followed by Kevin Cahill, Dr. Deming’s grandson and Executive Director of The Deming Institute, sharing “Why Deming, Why now?” Next, we heard insights from folks in aviation and the public sector on how Deming applies in those areas. Then Paula Marshall, CEO of  Bama Companies, inspired us with her energy and the story of Bama’s success using Deming.

Paula also explained that she “walks around with a Deming stick” because folks are often surprised when she starts talking about Deming and how the System of Profound Knowledge is the key to a successful, sustainable business.

The famous Red Bead Experiment clearly showed us how people are stuck in the systems created by management. As the manager of the White Bead production line, Dr. Bill Bellows reacted to each worker’s production numbers daily. Like many managers of today, he did not see that the variation between the workers was arbitrary – and the fault of the system, not the individuals.

Samantha Murray talked about applying Deming to the public education system – a realm in dire need of answers that work for children, parents, teachers, and society.

In our small group discussions, participants asked specific questions like “how can I implement Deming at my company when our top managers aren’t interested in change?” (The answer, for the most part, is: start within your own sphere of influence, and others are likely to follow.)

Later, Christina Dragonetti shared her personal Deming journey as a beginner and some of her “ah-ha” moments. If you are new to Deming, Christina recommends watching a video or two of Dr. Deming before reading The New Economics. You get an idea of how he spoke – and that’s exactly how he wrote.

We wrapped up the day with Amy Thorpe telling stories about implementing aspects of Deming in various workplaces and Ravi Roy reflecting on the lessons of the day.

We look forward to next year’s Bryce Canyon Society Deming Forum!

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