A Deming Disciple as Candidate for L.A. Mayor?
I won't pretend to understand Los Angeles politics (or much anything about L.A.). But, through an automated Google alert, I stumbled across a candidate (other than former Speaker Newt Gingrich) who is talking about Dr. W. Edwards Deming, the famed quality and management guru.
The candidate is David Saltsburg and he mentions Deming, talking about the L.A. school district:
I am certainly excited to be able to step up and show everyone the most innovative and empowering leadership at the scholastic level in the history of Los Angeles. My strategy is based on Dr. W. Edwards Deming 14 point management philosophy blueprint. If you don't know about Deming's 14 point plan, please do a search online, because my entire office will be operating under these 14 points (methods for management of quality and productivity). And until LAUSD firmly embraces these principals, the situation will never be allowed to improve, only continue to get worse.
Wow, if only more politicians talked like that.
Um…. on closer inspection, Mr. Saltsburg also goes by the name “Zuma Dogg.” Yeah, that's not a typo. He's not a typical politician (which is a good thing, I'd say). Apparently, he sells products on Venice Beach and is pretty well known for fighting the L.A. City Council over their policies and ordinances, as shown in some pretty bizarre and entertaining YouTube videos, including this one (it sounds like he often has a good case against them):
This is the new standard bearer for Dr. Deming's philosophy in government? Interesting, eh? This is either the craziest thing or the most brilliant thing I've seen in a long time (quoting the classic movie This is Spinal Tap, “There's a fine line between stupid and clever.”) I know what some of you might be thinking, but I'd vote for “clever.”
So how do we reconcile Mr. Saltsburg, the candidate, with Zuma Dogg? He does clean himself up for appearances to support his candidacy and he sounds pretty intelligent. At 4:30 into the video below, he mentions Dr. Deming and his 14 points, the “Japanese economic miracle” and the need to cut waste inefficiency from government work.
I'm fascinated. Especially when you see what he writes about the use of the Deming philosophy, in regards to reports that the existing mayor claims to have fixed one million potholes, Salsburg points out the harm done by quotas and targets:
Regarding the filling of one million potholes, the mayor's office has already admitted it's more like 85,000 potholes. Villaraigosa's problem is he goes around spouting off all these slogans and campaign promises that all sound good, but he may as well just get a job as Santa Claus, cause all he does is ready back a wish list. And the problem with the potholes that are being filled, is that they are not filling them properly, by removing the particles and topping off the seal properly, so they just turn into potholes again, way too quickly. I learned this from someone who read about my Deming 14 point plan. He was an engineer and told me he studied Deming and knew I would appreciate the feedback. Which I did.
So because of the quota, workers are under pressure to hit the number instead of doing the work properly the first time? This probably costs the city more in the long run, as he's right to point out.
Well, I'm fascinated. Anyone in SoCal have a perspective on the candidate? Maybe I can get him on the Podcast for an interview? His official campaign website and campaign video are online too. The election is March 3, 2009.
I emailed Saltsburg and got an email back (from Zuma Dogg) and we're going to talk on the phone later today. I'll see if I can turn it into a Podcast. Should be interesting, to say the least.
Update: here is a podcast with him.