By John Hunter, author of the Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog (since 2004).
From Chaos to Process at Fitness Matters, a Deming Institute podcast (download podcast) with Travis Timmons, owner of Fitness Matters and Kelly Allan, Senior Associate of Kelly Allan Associates and Chair of the Deming Institute Advisory Board.
A few years ago I would ask is there was any issues or things that could be improved upon and it was kind of “radio silence” – knowing full well that we had things that were not working as we needed them too. Fast forward to where we are at today – we didn’t have time to get through, a lot of it was wins of things going well, but also we need to tweak this part of the system or tweak that part of the system. And when it turns to looking at everything as a system that servers everyone, and everyone is part of the system, then it really makes it comfortable to talk about it.
Travis understands that more problems being raised is a good sign. This is one of the aspects of understanding data that many people do not understand. You cannot simply look at data and draw conclusions. You must understand the system that is generating that data.
I still remember, decades later, Brian Joiner explaining that when you adopt Deming’s ideas properly customer complaints will increase. It is not a sign more problems exist. It is a sign you are now mining the potential information that previously you ignored (often with system designed in ways that encouraged ignoring bad indicators through things such as a fear based management system, seeking to find who should be blamed for bad results, etc.).
A few years into their journey of adopting Deming’s ideas to manage their organization Travis says they find:
When you walk into work, you enjoy walking into work and knowing you are going to make a difference in people’s lives. At the end of the day what more could you ask for.
Related: Deming 101: Kelly Allan’s Presentation at Our 2014 Annual Conference – Deming Podcast with Dick Steele, Chairman of Peaker Services – Jim Benson on Applying Deming’s Ideas to Knowledge Work