Once we "get" improvement, it's so easy for passion to get the better of us -- it just makes such perfect
sense and is so
clear...to us! I was present at one of W. Edwards Deming's initial lectures on his synthesis of improvement theory called Profound Knowledge. It absolutely blew me away -- and took me 5-10 years to even begin to understand all its subtleties and how to make it actually work in the everyday world.
Do you see an analogy between teaching improvement and the Biblical "Sermon on the Mount" with the Beatitudes? The following is based on a humorous speculation of the disciples' all-too-human reactions during the "dress rehearsal."
Has something similar happened in your seminars?
Aren't there some days you could just...?
Then Deming took his disciples up on the mountain and gathered them around him. And then he taught them saying, "You must have Profound Knowledge."
- Blessed are the front line,
- Blessed are those who see everything as a process,
- Blessed are those who blame processes, not people,
- Blessed are those who see every process as part of an interconnected system,
- Blessed are those who ask, "Was this undesirable situation the result of common cause or special cause variation?",
- Blessed are those who 'Plot the dots!',
- Blessed are those who don't tamper,
- Blessed are those who don't use arbitrary numerical goals to motivate,
- Blessed are those who realize that given any set of numbers, 10% of them will be the top 10% and 25% of them will be the bottom quartile,
Blessed are those who remove barriers to pride in work,
- Blessed are those who experiment using PDSA to test a well-formulated theory,
- Blessed are those who understand that it's all about reducing variation.
And Peter said, "Do we have to write this stuff down?"
And Philip said, "Is there going to be a test?"
And James said, "Huh?"
And Andrew said, "Joseph Juran's disciples don't have to learn this stuff."
And Bartholomew said, "Will I have to stand up in front of others and teach this?"
And Matthew said, "Enough theory! Where are the tools we need to use?"
And Judas said, "Get real! Who is ever going to use this in the real world?"
And Simon the Zealot said, "I'm already too busy. How much more time is this going to take?
And John said, "I already knew this, but it was a great review! When can I start teaching it to those who really
Then one of the Human Resource executives, an expert in training, said, "I don't see any of this in the syllabus. Do you have a lesson plan? Is there an activity for each of the four intelligences? Where is the study guide? Will there be any authentic assessment? What are your terminal objectives in the cognitive domain? Will remediation and extra credit be provided for those who did not meet class requirements so they can still pass?"
And the executive who came late said, "I'm late for my next meeting. Can you give me the five-minute overview and tell me how much money this will initially cost, then save?"
And Thomas, who had missed the presentation, came to Deming privately and asked, "Did we do anything important today?"
And Deming wept.
Back to serious topics in two weeks. Until then, keep a smile on your face and...