Motivation – nonsense. All that people need to know is why their work is important.
There are four prongs of quality and four ways to improve quality of product and service:
– Innovation in product and service
– Innovation in process
– Improvement of existing product and service
– Improvement of existing process
The common mistake is the supposition that quality is ensured by No. 4, improvement of process, that operations going off without blemish on the factory floor, in the bank, in the hotel will ensure quality. Good operations are essential, yet they do not ensure quality. Quality is made in the boardroom.
A bank that failed last week may have had excellent operations— speed at the tellers’ windows with few mistakes; few mistakes in bank statements; likewise in the calculation of interest and of penalties and loans. The cause of failure at the bank was bad management, not operations.
I should estimate that in my experience most troubles and most possibilities for improvement add up to the proportions something like this:
94% belongs to the system (responsibility of management)
I read them. Not to grade them. No, I read them to see how I am doing. Where am I failing? What don’t they understand? Why do they give wrong answers? Why do they have some point of view that I don’t think is right? Where am I failing? Where do I need to build up.
One gets a good rating for fighting a fire. The result is visible; can be quantified. If you do it right the first time, you are invisible. You satisfied the requirements. That is your job. Mess it up, and correct it later, you become a hero.
It is not enough to do your best; you must know what to do, and then do your best.
Does the customer invent new product or service? The customer generates nothing. No customer asked for electric lights. There was gas and gas mantles, which gave good light. The first electric lights had carbon filaments. They were fragile and inefficient. No customer asked for photography. No customer asked for the telegraph, nor for a telephone. No customer asked for an automobile. We have horses: what could be better? No customer asked for pneumatic tires. Tires are made of rubber. It is silly to think of riding on air. The first pneumatic tires in the United States were not good. The user had to carry with him rubber cement, plugs, and a pump, and know how to use them.
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.
The merit rating rewards people that conform to the system. It does not reward attempts to improve the system. Don’t rock the boat.