Transforming the Organization – Deming Podcast with David Langford

By John Hunter, founder of

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This is the 3rd Deming Institute podcast with David Langford: CEO and Founder of Langford International and Deming Institute Advisory Board member. Download the podcast.

David begins by talking about why it is best to focus where you actually can have influence. It doesn’t do much good to worry about the national education system or state eduction system if you have no influence on those. Focus where you have influence. He discussed this idea in this clip from his presentation at the Deming Conference a few years ago: You are the top of your system. As he says in this podcast:

I learned to teach the students the largest circle over which you have influence may be you.

If so, take a look at your situation. Take a look at the data. Where you are satisfied, just continue doing what you are doing. For those things you want to improve, experiment to improve and monitor the results.

I liked David’s response on how, for example, a school principal should start improving. Should he start saying what we are going to be doing differently?

“No, start thinking. Start studying the current situation.”

I don’t know where we got the impression that thinking was just an excuse to do nothing. Probably because those doing nothing say we need to study things more or have a committee study things and such things as a way of doing nothing. I can understand frustration with those delays. But we need to spend a great deal more time thinking. We should “Manage” (and act) less and think more: then when we act, do so in the ways that will have the most positive impact.

David also talks about the challenges for parents in trying to help their kids navigate through the current education system. There are challenges and there are various strategies to dealing with how a poor education system impacts the students learning (or destroys their love of learning).

When exploring how to transform an organization David and Myron Tribus called up Dr. Deming.

Deming: “The way to transform is a small group of committed people working in a consistent fashion.”

So if you can get a small team within a whole school committed to working in consistent fashion you can start to transform that whole organization.

[Often] people think you need “all in,” we need to get everybody on board. Well that is really not the way transformation happens. Its discontinuous. Meaning it happens over here a little bit, it happen there, it happens there and then pretty soon you connect the dots. And then pretty soon you have a whole culture change.

To transform you need to change the system. You need to change the way people think.

Related: Education as a System (2nd podcast with David Langford)Improving Education podcast (1st with David)How to Transform Your Management System

For more information about David’s current work, with Ingenium Schools, please visit

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