Deming's SoPK (System of Profound Knowledge) Discussion

Wes Bucey

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Steve Prevette said:
And I'm here. Wes roped me into signing up.

- Steve Prevette
:bighug: Welcome back, Steve!
You may recall it was your comments several years ago which got me to look at the Cove the first time. I am certain your experience and expertise will be a valuable addition to the Cove.:applause: (Aren't smilies fun?)
 
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Kevin Mader

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Mike,

Dr. Deming was aware that there are folks outside of the System, on both sides. What he advocated was that if we were to rank/rate folks, we would need years of data to support our positions. Most folks don't get years, and in the case of baseball, the tampering within the system make data population comparisons suspect at best (strike zone changes, corked bats, juiced balls, different leagues, day or night games, pitchers faced). Clearly there are superstars where data appears to be unnecessary. Dr. Deming wrote that most kids in a classroom already know who will 'ace' the test, and who will not. He also warned folks about things like the Pygmalion Effect which defy logic. Perhaps Sammy's great salary has more to do with the fact he brings folks to the ballpark more so than Mike Bordick than the true overall contribution of each player to their respective teams. Without the magnifying glasses placed upon players by sportsnews agencies, I wonder how wide the gap is between the superstars and the rest of the lot really is. And to that point, how important is this distinction anyway? Dr. Deming thought that this wasn't all that useful.

Regards,

Kevin
 

Steve Prevette

Deming Disciple
Staff member
Super Moderator
Variation Amongst Workers

Certainly there is variation amongst workers. I would say that Dr. Deming suggested that we understand that variation, and separate it into common cause and special cause variation. I would assume that most professional sports team players are above the three standard deviation UCL for their specialties.

If my workforce is within three standard deviations, and not showing any long run trends (7 points in a row above average), then ranking workers within that noise accomplishes nothing. And in the Red Beads the only way to be outside 3 standard deviations is to be extremely lucky, or cheat.

But as we move into business (and this is still true in sports) we may need more the ability for the workers (players) to work together, to be interdependent. :agree: Dr. Deming used the example of the level of interdependence between bowling team members, versus that of an orchestra.

I'm new here, so I am just going to have to use the cracking whip face :whip: as the alternative.
 

Mike S.

Happy to be Alive
Trusted Information Resource
Kevin Mader said:
Mike,

Dr. Deming was aware that there are folks outside of the System, on both sides. What he advocated was that if we were to rank/rate folks, we would need years of data to support our positions.
With all due respect to both you and Dr. Deming, IMO this is pure hogwash.

IMO Deming philosophies sometimes oversimplify and sometimes make things harder than they are. Or maybe the advocates do, I dunno.

IMO the red beads experiment is both valid and valuable -- to a point. But the real world most of us work in is a bit more complicated than the red beads experiment and to give this single exercise too much importance is analogous to giving a trite expression like "haste makes waste" too much importance (what about "he who hesitates is lost?).

Similarly, to suggest that to properly rank people is next to impossible without years of statistical data is overcomplicating things. Yep, no measure is perfect, and no ranking is perfect all the time, but I would bet that most people do not believe this Deming idea and that many (not all) of those who say they believe it in practice often rank people or things without years of data anyway. In their real life, how many alleged 'believers" really walk this talk? IMO, few.

This is one reason I'd like to have seen Deming run his own business and hire lots (hundreds) of employees. I'd like to see how he selected his employees, especially for lower-level positions where "years of data" was not available.

Again, I'm not a Deming-hater. I agree with lots of Deming ideas, but sometimes he goes too far IMO.
 

Steve Prevette

Deming Disciple
Staff member
Super Moderator
Hmmm.:blowup: (I love these toys, I was repressed on the ASQ discussion board)

Not much I can say in reply but I believe I have accurately portrayed Dr. Deming's position.

And ask you a personal question - has knowing where you are ranked with your fellow co-workers helped you personally do a better job? Have you ever been ranked in the "lower half" in your career or schooling? How did it feel? Did it motivate you?

- Steve
 

Mike S.

Happy to be Alive
Trusted Information Resource
Steve Prevette said:
And ask you a personal question - has knowing where you are ranked with your fellow co-workers helped you personally do a better job? Have you ever been ranked in the "lower half" in your career or schooling? How did it feel? Did it motivate you?

- Steve
Q1: Well, it has helped me get more money and professional advancement. It has helped motivate me when I wasn't where I wanted to be, or to stat there if I was happy.

Q2: Lower half? Sure, many times! Doesn't feel great now, didn't then. Sometimes it didn't/doesn't matter much to me if I didn't/don't care about the issue too much; in other cases it motivated/motivates me to try harder, do more, work harder to improve. If I am in the lower-half on something I care about and I cannot do any better, I have to learn to live with it. Nobody gets to be everything they want to be.

Related topic: I understand in Nashville schools they are not using the honor roll any longer in public schools because those who did not make the honor roll feel bad or get depressed; nor are they hanging examples of excellent work on the bulletin boards, again because those who do not do excellent work feel bad. I wonder what's next, anyone who wants to be on the football team or in the band can be a member because someone's feelings might get hurt if they are not selected based on ability? Gimme a break. :mad: Wait till these kids hit the real world.
 
C

Craig H.

I am getting confused, I think.

OK, Dr. Deming's 11th point "Eliminate numerical quotas for the work force and numerical goals for management" seems pretty straightforward to me, and is pretty specific about what types of measurement we should avoid. This is consistent, IMO, with his approach to processes themselves - that is they can "talk" to us via statistics. The types of measurements named in point 11 then could be seen as a form of tampering.

Now, I am no expert on the teachings of the good Doctor, but where are the prohibitions concerning the other types of measurement discussed here, and please be a little more specific concerning his reasoning. It seems to me that the minute we first meet someone we start forming an opinion about them, good or bad (and right or wrong). This is a (very complex) form of measurement and is human nature. Our opinions about individuals are used, to their betterment or detriment, to make decisions concerning their intent and abilities.

Again, how does a manager best use their people without making judgements (using the aforementioned "measurements") concerning their attitudes and abilities? Without determining what motivates each individual, how can a manager even make a decent attempt at keeping the workers happy?


Craig
 
R

Rob Nix

Deming was not against MEASURING anything! His points #10 and #11 were regarding arbitrary targets, quotas, and goals! This is not in any way associated with an employee's capabilities. It MAY be, if some respects, associated with an employee's performance...

...What Deming objected to was telling an employee that he had to meet some objective (perhaps a number of daily parts assembled) and then not providing him the tools and wherewithal to accomplish it, he is being set up for the fall. Give him what he needs and he'll do better (albeit not all employees at the same leve)l.

Even Deming likely hired people for his consulting firm that he felt were best qualified. This is not rocket surgery. :nope:
 
D

David Hartman

Mike S. said:
Related topic: I understand in Nashville schools they are not using the honor roll any longer in public schools because those who did not make the honor roll feel bad or get depressed; nor are they hanging examples of excellent work on the bulletin boards, again because those who do not do excellent work feel bad. I wonder what's next, anyone who wants to be on the football team or in the band can be a member because someone's feelings might get hurt if they are not selected based on ability? Gimme a break. :mad: Wait till these kids hit the real world.
I believe that Dr. Deming would not have had a problem with teachers working with individual students, checking/testing them for where they are in their understanding of a subject, and then defining what steps they (the teacher) would take to help the student achieve the maximum level of competence within their capability.

It is when we provide general testing to a population that is not specific enough for determining the individual student's areas of need, and then rank the population based on this arbitrary testing, that belittles those that have the capacity but perhaps not the ability to pick it up as quickly as some within the population. Students begin working to achieve an A, B, or C instead of striving to learn.

Additionally, those that have the ability to learn through hearing or reading are at an immediate advantage over those that learn best through experience/hands-on or through visual stimulation.

I work with adult students several times a week teaching them to read; and I can tell you that many of the mentally handicapped (that the public school system left behind) have the capacity to learn - if you are willing to accept their limitations, take the time to understand their needs and find a method that will stimulate their learning. And yes, I measure their accompishments - but I don't "test" them (it's not pass/fail - it helps me to determine what areas I need to concentrate on).
 

Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
Who has both responsibility AND authority?

Rob Nix said:
Deming was not against MEASURING anything! His points #10 and #11 were regarding arbitrary targets, quotas, and goals! This is not in any way associated with an employee's capabilities. It MAY be, if some respects, associated with an employee's performance...

...What Deming objected to was telling an employee that he had to meet some objective (perhaps a number of daily parts assembled) and then not providing him the tools and wherewithal to accomplish it, he is being set up for the fall. Give him what he needs and he'll do better (albeit not all employees at the same leve)l.

Even Deming likely hired people for his consulting firm that he felt were best qualified. This is not rocket surgery. :nope:
Even mixing metaphors of rocket science and brain surgery helps bring home the point SoPK is based on looking at the ENTIRE picture regarding an organization, not isolated points alone, but in how they relate to the REAL big picture.

Frequently, Management By Objective folks think that by applying ARBITRARY yardsticks to employee performance they are advancing the organization. Sometimes the yardsticks are just "wrong."

:caution: slightly demogogic material here:
Would an MBO have been at the bottom of efficient and effective genocide movements throughout history? Would an MBO have been at the bottom of efficient fishing techniques that have exterminated entire populations of fish? I'm pretty sure MBO had a hand in the slaughter of Great Auks, American Bison, and Passenger Pigeons by introducing more efficient killing techniques.

If folks had adopted SoPK techniques, they would have looked beyond the temporary efficacy of their policies and work techniques to the Big Picture in relationship to investors, employees, customers, suppliers, competitors, neighbors, and Nature.

So, were those previous MBO folk necessarily bad people? In my opinion, they were just unenlightened. Can such depradations on our human populations and on Nature happen again? Adopting a short-sighted MBO practically guarantees they will.
 
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