Deming's SoPK (System of Profound Knowledge) Discussion

Steve Prevette

Deming Disciple
Staff member
Super Moderator
Laura M said:
SoPK is: (copied from earlier post)
The subtitle of Lewis' book is "outline of a Theory of Knowledge." Not sure how we can discuss SoPK without all the elements.
Then kick in some quotes or thoughts and get us hard-siders cogitating. :agree1:

I am trying to hang out in more circles with psychology, organizational development, and other "soft side types". Hanging out with ISTJ statisticians can be pretty boring!

But the good part of being a statistician is no one else wants your job.
 
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R

Rob Nix

Steve,

Come on now; NO one wants a statistician's job??? Don't you mean that you are 95% confident that your hypothesis (no one wants a statistician's job) will be accepted??? :biglaugh:
 
L

Laura M

Well, our conversation started with trying to understand exactly what HE meant by "Experience without theory teaches nothing." or said differently in one of the 4 day seminars "Without theory there would be no knowledge."
Granted Dr. Deming didn't invent this statement, it came from Lewis, but how does it fit with the the knowledge of variation, and use of control charts? Why did he repeat it so often - and did the majority of 4-day attendees understand?
 

Steve Prevette

Deming Disciple
Staff member
Super Moderator
Here is the "statistician's" perspective to the question of there is no learning without theory:

There is a very real danger in statistics when someone collects a pot of data, then tries to "prove" stuff with it. Commonly this is called the "agriculture parable". Agriculture studies usually have hundreds of test fields which have received different levels of rainfall, different fertilizers, you name it. If I conduct "hypothesis testing" on all these different combinations, say at a 5% significance levels, one out of every 20 combinations will have a "significant" result. I then publish that and make a fool of myself. By the way, this is one of many reasons why Dr. Deming was against "hypothesis testing" at least the traditional statisical version of it with "levels of significance".

Here is why having a theory is important. If I want to increase the yield of an agricultural product I should have a theory, such as "more rain is good". Going in with the theory, and some good understanding that I have a rational cause and effect theory, I then collect data designed to prove or disprove the theory. Now I have less chance of simply "discovering" something that is random noise in the data. :read:

And it was pointed out I can never "prove" a theory - I can only disprove it. No amount of examples provides a theory.
 

Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
Laura M said:
Well, our conversation started with trying to understand exactly what HE meant by "Experience without theory teaches nothing." or said differently in one of the 4 day seminars "Without theory there would be no knowledge."
Granted Dr. Deming didn't invent this statement, it came from Lewis, but how does it fit with the the knowledge of variation, and use of control charts? Why did he repeat it so often - and did the majority of 4-day attendees understand?
The beauty of SoPK is that if only one of the attendees "understood" and then went on to practice - that person could make a difference in himself, his organization, his community. As Kermit the Frog and Ralph Nader frequently said, "It isn't easy being Green!" However, that didn't stop either of them from trying their best, even though they were in the minority.

IMO, the few who did understand enough to practice what they learned do not become naysayers as soon as they encounter an obstacle. They look for a way to surmount or circumvent the obstacle. They certainly do NOT backslide into counterproductive habits.
 

Steve Prevette

Deming Disciple
Staff member
Super Moderator
Rob Nix said:
Steve,

Come on now; NO one wants a statistician's job??? Don't you mean that you are 95% confident that your hypothesis (no one wants a statistician's job) will be accepted??? :biglaugh:
OK, so I am 95% confident that no more than 5% of the US population wants to be a statistician. :biglaugh: :biglaugh:

I do teach evening classes in statistics to business majors. It is a challenge, both for me and the students.
 

Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!
Staff member
Admin
Hey Steve,

What was it Dr. Deming said? Something like, "It only takes one failure to prove a theory wrong."

Group,

Dr. Deming said that folks should start with Chapter 7 of MWO and then go back to read 1-6 after they've read the book. I struggled with reading it, finding that having papers written on the book helped to break it down for me so I could understand it better.

"Without theory, there's nothing to modify or learn", WED

Regards,

Kevin
 

Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
Staff member
Admin
Sigh

Wes Bucey said:
The beauty of SoPK is that if only one of the attendees "understood" and then went on to practice - that person could make a difference in himself, his organization, his community. As Kermit the Frog and Ralph Nader frequently said, "It isn't easy being Green!" However, that didn't stop either of them from trying their best, even though they were in the minority.

IMO, the few who did understand enough to practice what they learned do not become naysayers as soon as they encounter an obstacle. They look for a way to surmount or circumvent the obstacle. They certainly do NOT backslide into counterproductive habits.
I have found the challenge of doing this is in feeling green, trying not to act like I feel green, and trying to apply SoPK in an environment where such a person is treated in a range between amused tolerance and suspicion. I have been certain that my enthusiasm for SoPK has seeped out in job interviews and convinced them to hire someone else.

I have dealt with this ever since I left the Navy in 95. I can't say for sure that they practice SoPK in the military but I have felt like I'm walking in glue ever since. I can say they (Navy quality programs) essentially operate like they have a plan...

I guess that's why I advocate "stealth quality"-- feeling almost as though I should go incognito. Certainly I haver decided I must call it something else, because in a society that thinks quality is a hot hamburger I must adapt my message to get through. I haven't yet settled on just what appealing form that message will take.

Jennifer
 

Steve Prevette

Deming Disciple
Staff member
Super Moderator
Jennifer Kirley said:
I guess that's why I advocate "stealth quality"-- feeling almost as though I should go incognito. Certainly I haver decided I must call it something else, because in a society that thinks quality is a hot hamburger I must adapt my message to get through. I haven't yet settled on just what appealing form that message will take.

Jennifer
Much better to do it out in the open. One manager told me - Steve we hate your control charts, we hate your control limits. But when it comes to getting charts and good data, you're the only game in town.

Another quote - Steve you have the amazing ability to p*** :mg: in person's wheaties bowl and they won't figure it out for an hour, and when they do, there is nothing they can do about it.

I often say that if I had done what I was told to do :bonk: , I would have been laid off as useless a long time ago.

I am talking about this and other things in a presentation named "Pushing the Envelope from Within". I have a power point file for it that I will send upon request, but I should respect the conference and not send it to wide distribution until after the conference.
 

Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
Staff member
Admin
Steve Prevette said:
Much better to do it out in the open. One manager told me - Steve we hate your control charts, we hate your control limits. But when it comes to getting charts and good data, you're the only game in town.

Another quote - Steve you have the amazing ability to p*** :mg: in person's wheaties bowl and they won't figure it out for an hour, and when they do, there is nothing they can do about it.

I often say that if I had done what I was told to do :bonk: , I would have been laid off as useless a long time ago.

I am talking about this and other things in a presentation named "Pushing the Envelope from Within". I have a power point file for it that I will send upon request, but I should respect the conference and not send it to wide distribution until after the conference.

I was dealing with an outfit that wouldn't do material identification, never mind control charts. I outgrew that company.

I think the difference between your situation and mine is that in yours, you have a program in which your place is established.

Here, in so many places (bigger proportions with manufacturing shrinkage) they really believe quality is an attribute. A hot hamburger. How to get there is a pretty loosely performed (and not necessarily well planned) set of endeavors.

I will find a way but I will have to simplify my message and make it understandable to the person on the street. I look forward to seeing the presentation as soon as you feel it is appropriate. Many thanks in advance!
 
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