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Best efforts are essential. Unfortunately, best efforts, people charging this way and that way without guidance of principles, can do a lot of damage. Think of the chaos that would come if everyone did his best, not knowing what to do.

Deming’s Second Theorem: We are being ruined by best efforts and hard work.

How can she put forth her best efforts when no matter how carefully she works, the item will still be defective? If no one cares, why should she? In contrast, when defects are rare or nonexistent or well explained, she understands that the management are accepting their proper responsibility, and she feels an obligation to put forth her best efforts: they are now effective.

It is not enough for everyone to do his best. Everyone is already doing his best. Efforts, to be effective, must go in the right direction.

Taking action on the basis of results without theory of knowledge, without theory of variation, without knowledge about a system. Anything goes wrong, do something about it, overreacting; acting without knowledge, the effect is to make things worse. With the best of intentions and best efforts, managing by results is, in effect, exactly the same, as Dr. Myron Tribus put it, while driving your automobile, keeping your eye on the rear view mirror, what would happen? And that’s what management by results is, keeping your eye on results.

The idea of a merit rating is alluring. The sound of the words captivates the imagination: pay for what you get; get what you pay for; motivate people to do their best, for their own good. The effect is exactly the opposite of what the words promise. Everyone propels himself forward, or tries to, for his own good, on his own life preserver. The organization is the loser. Merit rating rewards people that do well in the system. It does not reward attempts to improve the system.

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