People want to do Quality Work


A question to ask yourselves (if you're in management): does your management system allow people to do their best work? Even if you're “working on lean”, do you pressure people to put sub-standard product out the door? A number of times in my career, I've seen someone be very upset because “management” cared more about money than quality. That's very sad. Nobody ever starts the first day of their job disgruntled or cynical. That's something that bad management does to them over time.

In your environment, have you been able to shift the focus from quantity and dollars to quality and, as Deming would have said, allowing workers to have pride in their work?

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. Great Question Mark, as you know Metrics drive behaviors and most metrics are not focused on the long term or “right” thing to do. The short term thinking most Management Systems promote (Implicitly or Explicitly) create the frustrations, delivery and quality issues you mention.

    In my current role (starting week #8) the answer would have to be unfortunately, Yes! The bigger issue is getting others on the management team to see how the Management Metric System drive all the issues we are battling. About 60% do not care (some will save face & say it, but doing it is a different thing), they will drive to the metric no matter what it causes. The other 40% (like me) see it, don’t like and are actively trying to change it.

  2. Great post. I heard something like the following from Peter Scholtes (he is a funny guy so I and he presented the idea much more effectively and enjoyably). When a client talked about needing to clear out the “dead wood” (poor employees) Peter asked if they hired dead wood or hired live trees and killed them. Peter’s opinion was that they were doing the killing and hiring new people wouldn’t help if you are just going to turn them into “dead wood.” If you are hiring dead wood then stop doing that.

  3. More struggles with finding the right thing to measeure, the right way!

    Something Jamie Flinchbaugh said in his last podcast on the Lean Blog has stuck with me and is applicable here. In talking about the possible negative reactions to expressing a hatred for waste, Jamie explained that hate in this case is positive because it compels action.

    Using this same line of thinking, the right metrics can be defined by the constitution of action they compel in the organization.


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