Mike Tveite on The Role of Learning in Improving Organizations

Guest post by John Hunter, who founded curiouscat.com (in 1996).

Mike Tveite shared his thoughts on The Role of Learning in Improving Organizations at the 1991 Ohio Quality and Productivity Forum conference.

YouTube video

As I’ve tried to pursue the PDSA cycle often what I get is, well some answers, but fundamentally I get a lot more questions.

The point Mike makes throughout his presentation, and I agree, is that when you use the PDSA cycle well that is what will happen; you will learn and find new questions to explore. The purpose of the PDSA cycle is to learn. There is also a purpose to test a new process to see if it can be adopted (the Act, or Adopt, stage of the PDSA cycle) to improve results of the organization. But if you had to prioritize the aims of the PDSA cycle the most important aim is to learn.

Mike also discusses the importance of adopting Deming’s System of Profound Knowledge in the work of executives and the larger systems within organizations. Dr. Deming discusses how applying his ideas on the common processes in our organizations (service processes, processes on the factory floor, etc.) amounts to perhaps 3% of the potential of using the System of Profound Knowledge within organizations. To gain 97% of the benefit the way our organizations are led and managed must be fundamentally adapted with this new understanding.

Still today we have made very little progress on that 97% of the potential. I do think we have improved on the 3% in the last 30 years (though there is still plenty left to do, even in this area). And while we have made some progress where 97% of the potential rests there is a huge amount that we still haven’t even started to think about working on in most organizations.

Related: Deming 101 by Mike TveiteCreating the Foundation for a Learning OrganizationDeming 101: Theory of Knowledge and the PDSA Improvement and Learning CycleLearn by Seeking Knowledge, Not Just from Mistakes

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