Change from Inside or Outside of the System
Last week, I tweeted a quote that’s supposedly from Dr. W. Edwards Deming. I can only find one other online reference… does this sound like something Deming would have said?
“Knowledge required to change the existing system to a better system must come from outside the existing system.”
A few folks on Twitter seemed to challenge that assertion (hard to tell tone in 140 characters, sometimes).
I think you need a balance of INSIDE and OUTSIDE.
A team of all insiders might be stuck in the old way of thinking, just seeing variations of how things have always been done. I think of Dr. Sami Bahri, the Lean Dentist… he used to go to dental conferences and training sessions and he said he just got the same variations of the same practices that didn’t work well.
He needed some outside influences — his reading of Shingo and Ohno brought a Toyota perspective that’s served him well (as he describes in his book Follow the Learner: The Role of a Leader in Creating a Lean Culture.
Dr. Bahri combined outside influences and ideas (from the automotive industry and engineering) with his inside knowledge of dentistry.
When I’ve worked with hospitals, the improvements we made were a combination of outside and inside ideas. We couldn’t have done anything with ONLY my outside perspectives… we needed both perspectives. It’s much easier to teach smart and motivated nurses the Lean concepts… it’s not rocket science, they take to it very quickly. But, left on their own, they wouldn’t have come up with Lean on their own.
Is that what Dr. Deming was (allegedly) trying to say? What are your experiences?