I had planned on chilling out over the holidays by reading some books that aren’t related to Lean, Kaizen, etc. Novels are not normally my thing and I started reading How Doctors Think, which had been on my Kindle to-read list for a while. It stopped reading after about four chapters… might pick it up again at some point. It was just OK. Interesting, but not riveting.
I ended up nerding out and reading a paperback I had purchased a while back: Four Days with Dr. Deming: A Strategy for Modern Methods of Management.
It’s an interesting format. William J. Latzko and David M. Saunders worked with Dr. W. Edwards Deming and assisted in his famed four-day seminars. Latzko and Saunders, with Deming’s blessing, created this book as a narrative of those four days.
From Latzko’s LinkedIn bio:
At the time that he developed the theory of management, Dr. Deming had a number of collaborators to whom he gave the name, “master.” Dr. Latzko was one of these collaborators.
You hear some of Deming’s own words and stories. Latzko and Saunders add commentary and there’s another voice they’ve created, a composite executive who is reacting to what Deming teaches from the perspective of somebody who is maybe a bit skeptical and was sort of forced to attend.
Dr. Deming wrote a foreword for the book, which was published in 1993, the year he passed away.
I never had the opportunity to meet Dr. Deming. My father was able to attend a Deming seminar at General Motors in the late 80s or early 90s and that ended up being my first exposure to Deming’s work and ideas (this was before I’d ever heard of anything Toyota was doing differently than the Big 3 automakers in Detroit).
Here are a few things I photographed and tweeted from the book.
First is a classic Deming analogy that I’ve read in other books of his.
He’s making a good point in a humorous way. I played percussion and timpani in orchestras during high school and I’m an Industrial Engineer. So… this example stings a bit. In my experience, Industrial Engineers are taught to look at systems, not just local efficiencies.
It’s true that traditional management (in manufacturing, call centers, hospitals, etc.) thinks it’s best for everybody to be busy 100% of the time. That’s different than how we’d view things in Lean or TPS, of course.
Read my post about this: “How to Design Poor Service – Expect 100% Utilization of People or Resources.”
The next callout from the book, below, mirrors what I’ve been teaching leaders about their role in Kaizen and continuous improvement. Leaders can’t be the ones who always find the problems or the ones that have the answers to everything. Effective leaders create an environment, a climate, a tone where people can be innovative and improve.
Creating this climate includes putting one’s ego aside as a leader. It means not punishing people who speak up and point out problems (as happens far too often today). It means making it OK to speak up and for leaders to collaborate with employees (or to get out of their way).
The final thing I wanted to share is Deming’s definition of a leader. This should perhaps be printed out, framed, and put on the wall or desk of every manager out there. Better yet, live by these principles…
I hope you’ll buy the book (you can get a used copy for 25 cents plus shipping) and share your comments below.