Clare Crawford Mason published this interview, with Dr. Deming, at the time of her NBC broadcast, If Japan Can Why Can’t We (1980).
Does job security affect productivity?
Dr. Deming: In Japan a company worker’s position is secure. He is retrained for another job if his present job is eliminated by productivity improvement. If a worker has an idea, he can present it to the president, and the door is always open. The worker doesn’t have to worry about whether he’ll have a job tomorrow; he doesn’t have to try to please somebody or conceal problems just to keep his job. There’s such a difference between working in a secure position and working in an insecure position.
Is job security the key factor, then?
Dr. Deming: I don’t know if it is, or if participation is. I’ve seen how deeply plant workers appreciate it when somebody recognizes and respects the storehouse of knowledge they accumulate day to day on the job. Giving people the opportunity to participate in improving the product pays off, because workers realize security isn’t worth a hoot if the product is shoddy.
W. Edwards Deming encouraged organizations to create a management system where employees are valued and given the opportunity to excel and take pride in what they do. This is simple to say but more difficult to truly emphasize.
It is very easy to fall into practices that create barriers and block people’s pride in work, that treat people as expendable cogs, that do not provide the proper training to excel, etc.. An organization must create a system that supports respect for people. Claiming to support our people while maintaining policies that do the opposite is damaging and all too common. We have written about this topic in the past, The Greatest Waste, and will continue to do so fairly often I would imagine.
Related: Podcast with Clare Crawford-Mason Discussing Dr. Deming’s Ideas on Management – Psychology, one of 4 keys to Deming’s Management System – Eliminate Sales Commissions: Reject Theory X Management and Embrace Systems Thinking – Practical Ways to Respect People in Your Organization