May Roundup: Deming, Management & More

The ASQ blogging theme in May was a bit different from the norm, as we had five topics that ranged from bringing quality to the C-suite to forecasting the future of quality. And, some bloggers chose to respond to a post about ASQ’s just-released Global State of Quality Research (watch for more on the blog about this major project). These diverse topics produced a great of variety of fascinating blog posts in May—great reading material.

John Hunter, Anshuman Tiwari, and Scott Rutherford wrote about Dr. Deming’s insights on management and workplace incentives. It’s a timely topic for ASQ’s audience, since one of our 2013 World Conference speakers, Dan Pink, reflected on this theme–and cited Deming–in his well-received keynote. Pink argued that short-term incentives are effective only for the most rudimentary tasks, and that autonomy and self-direction motivate in jobs that require creativity and problem solving.

On that note, John focused on the importance of senior executives leading management imrovement effortsMark Graban analyzed Deming’s management philosophy. Anshuman Tiwari added a bit of controversy to the conversation, questioning whether Dan Pink understood Deming correctly, and arguing that autonomy and empowerment are not always effective as incentives. Scott responded the Deming and Pink are indeed on the same wavelength. And Tim McMahon contributed another post about incentives beyond money at work.

And Aimee Siegler reflected on her “aha” moment at ASQ’s World Conference: Sometimes we have to create our own motivation at work when it’s lacking.

Nicole Radziwill wrote about structure versus innovation after a bad experience with a rental car in Iceland. Can we have innovation without structure? Nicole doesn’t think so.

Jimena Calfa wrote about the importance of “soft skills” (or call them people skills, or negotiating skills) in technical occupations. Jennifer Stepniowski also stressed the crucial important of soft skills to getting things done.

Don Brecken wrote about bridging the gap to the C-suite, encouraging quality professionals to act as mentors and teachers in their organization. (Speaking of the C-suite, Scott Rutherford believes we put too much emphasis on STEM rather than business skills.)

Manu Vora reflected on his lifelong interest in social responsibility, finding its roots in his childhood and adolescent experiences.

John Priebe responded to the first installment of ASQ’s Global State of Quality research—a panoramic view of how organizations worldwide run their quality function. He noted that 68% of organizations don’t share quality metrics with the public, which can cause problems of transparency. Rajan Thiyagarajan also wrote about The Global State of Quality Research, noting its futuristic scope.  And Bob Mitchell wrote about the important of service to organizations, as noted in the research.

Speaking of the future of quality, Dr. Lotto Lai sees social media playing a major part in the future of the field, while Daniel Zrymiak looks to a return to artisan skills.

Happy reading!

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One Response to May Roundup: Deming, Management & More

  1. Kyle Reising says:

    Motivation – Deming MGMT and More

    The bulk of my career was spent using quality tools in pursuit of adding value to goods and services which is a fancy way of saying I worked for a living. Mid career I returned to college earning a BBA and MSQA with ASQ certs as CMQ/OE and CSSBB. The insight I would like to add to the concepts of management motivating personnel is that all motivation is internal. The popularity of various theories and practices to produce desired outcomes through manipulating people with incentives or disincentives is more about creating a need for management consultants than creating efficiencies in outcomes. All motivation is confined to personal internal factors.

    Prisons across the world are filled with people who could not or would not respond to the motivational norms associated with polite society. So are your businesses. There is no magic behind creating environments that allow individuals to contribute to the best of their abilities. If you want the obvious get the obvious and get out of their way. More harm is done by forcing systematic methods of enabling motivational theories using positional authority to elicit desired behavior from subordinate personnel than good. Many who claim special insight into Deming’s methods will tell you that was his intention in developing his methods. Perhaps, that is correct, and the failure was in the imperfect application of his ideas by managers who did not understand.

    An alternative theory is some people enjoy being told what to do, how to do it and when. These tractable souls are a pleasure to manage and are rewarded for their compliance. Other people have an aversion to the same and are not rewarded for their indifference. One thing is certain most people in either group can tell you what is wrong with any given process. It is my experience that people from the latter group are more likely to be able to tell you how improvements can be made. This is not because contrarians possess a superior intellect, but rather they focus on their internal differences as much as tractable people focus on being cooperative.

    Which brings the concept full circle in how to elicit creativity as well as compliance. When motivational efforts fail they fail because the goal is focused on the method and not the outcomes. An organizational culture constructed on rewarding compliance will produce behavior and outcomes based on compliance to process and one built on rewarding creativity will be innovative. It is my humble opinion that the constraining factor is the nature of the relationship between positional authority and subordinate expectations. Processes create desired outcomes they do not define desired outcomes. When the process defines the outcome people concern themselves with whether they are holding their mouths just right rather than wondering what sounds will come out when they hold them in different ways.