Jim Benson on Applying Deming’s Ideas to Knowledge Work

By John Hunter, author of the Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog.

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Jim Benson, founding partner of the Modus Cooperendi and co-author of Personal Kanban is the guest on this Deming Podcast. In the podcast Jim discusses how to apply Deming ideas to knowledge work.

I was actively looking for a set of guiding principles around what would create an actual human oriented, self-aware way of managing work. The four points of the SoPK do exactly that and do it in a very elegant, concise and friendly way.

You need to understand why you are doing lean before you start to do it…
I want them to have the benefit of the Deming moral compass when they are engaging in any lean activity.

Jim helps people take those principles and help people visualize their knowledge work (software development etc.) leading to better communication, collaboration and transparency. Knowledge work often has the challenge of being difficult to visualize which hampers our attempts to understand the processes and improve the processes that make up the work.

The other key for Jim is to limit work in process to allow the work to be done most effectively.

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For me the Deming philosophy has 3 major areas: one is respect for people, the second is SoPK, and the third is what I call the one point but is listed as the 14 points. If you add up all the 14 points and draw a summation line underneath it, the results of all of those is that “command and control is an anti-human activity.”

I see respect for people as ingrained in the Deming philosophy, but that term is associated with lean thinking. I also believe emphasizing respect for people is enhanced by using that term. I see it as part of the System of Profound Knowledge (largely in the psychology area) and for example include it in the categories of topics for this blog. I think it is a recognition of how critical respect for people is (and also perhaps how many of our organizations fail at this in so many ways) that people like to emphasize it. Also it is a very good term to capture what is so important and the more it is used the better, I think.

Related: What’s Deming Got to Do With Agile Software Development and KanbanDrowning in Work? (Business 901 podcast with Jim)WIP in Dentistry Fewer Patients-In-Process and Less Safety SchedulingDeming and Software Development

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