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94% of Problems are Really Caused by…

Since the webinar I’m doing later today for Gemba Academy (Using SPC to Make Better Management Decisions) allows me to cite the late great Dr. W. Edwards Deming when talking about variation in systems, I thought I’d share this silly graphic that I created. Like the “5 Whys” image from last weekend, it’s based on a popular “Internet Meme.”

If you know the “Chuck Norris” jokes  (and Dr. Deming’s work), you will get it:

deming norris 94% of Problems are Really Caused by... lean

See more Lean Memes.

The basis for the joke, other than Chuck Norris being awesome, is Dr. Deming’s teaching that 94% of the problems or defects in an organization are caused by “the system.” The traditional management mindset is that errors and defects are caused by bad employees or employees who just don’t care.

Systemic problems are caused by things like poor equipment, supplier problems, lack of training, having a culture that places production volume (or patient flow) over quality, things like that.

Note that Dr. Deming never said that 100% of the problems are caused by the system. But, on the flip side, it seems that traditional managers think that 94% of the problems are caused by bad people. It’s better to assume that problems are caused by the system, until proven otherwise.

From this website about Deming:

Deming would evoke disbelief in his management seminars when he insisted that 94 percent or more of all problems, defective goods or services came from the system, not from a careless worker or a defective machine. He would go on to say that to improve an organization’s goods or services, the system had to be improved rather than searching for the guilty worker or broken equipment. Top managers in America’s leading companies were dubious students. But, in almost all cases, when they implemented his ideas, they were surprised to find that they agreed with him: The management and the system they were managing were the true source of both problems and improvements.

Similar themes are found in Lean thinking, the Studer approach, the Just Culture mindsets in healthcare, as well as the quality and patient safety book To Err is Human.

I made more of these meme graphics, as did some other people, including Christina Kach (another guest post coming from her soon).

I’ll eventually create a post full of them. But, for now, you can find them on Twitter under the hashtag #LeanMeme. To create your own, go to the Meme Generator and share it on Twitter (with the hashtag) or email it to me – mark (at) leanblog (dot) org.


mark graban lean blog 94% of Problems are Really Caused by... leanAbout LeanBlog.org: Mark Graban is a consultant, author, and speaker in the “lean healthcare” methodology. Mark is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as the new Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. Mark is also the VP of Customer Success for the technology company KaiNexus.

book mark graban 94% of Problems are Really Caused by... lean mark graban consulting 94% of Problems are Really Caused by... lean

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5 Comments on "94% of Problems are Really Caused by…"

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  1. Guest Post – #LeanProblems — Lean Blog | March 26, 2012
  1. Mark Graban
    Twitter:
    says:

    As said on Twitter by @AEnglishIE:

    “I only need 1 Key Principle: Constancy of Norris.”

  2. JM says:

    Invasion USA. One of Norris’ classics from the 80s.

  3. Christina Kach
    Twitter:
    says:

    You should just write an entire “Lean According to Chuck Norris” Blog Post…

  4. Mark Graban
    Twitter:
    says:

    I’m collecting these on a special purpose blog:

    http://LeanMeme.blogspot.com

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