Dr. Deming’s Role of a People Manager


I stumbled across these notes I had taken about 8 or 9 years ago based on a video lecture from Dr. Deming:

W. Edwards Deming – The Role of a People Manager
Lecture Notes 8/13/1990

  • A manager and his people understand the meaning of a system and how the work of his group may support these aims.
  • A manager works in cooperation with preceding and following stages toward optimization of the efforts of all stages.
  • She understands that all people are different from each other and tries to create for everybody interest, challenge, and joy in work. Improvement and innovation are her aim.
  • He acts as a role model and as an unceasing learner.
  • She is a coach and counsel, not a judge.
  • He understands a stable system, including what to do about mistakes and failures of people and how to help them.
  • She has three sources of power 1) Formal 2) Knowledge 3) Personality.
  • He will study results with the aim to improve his work.
  • Another aim is to learn whom, if anybody, is outside the system, and in need of special help.
  • He creates trust. This takes time. Give your word and follow up on it.
  • She does not expect perfection.
  • He listens and learns without passing judgment.
  • She understands the benefits of cooperation and the losses from competition between people and between groups.

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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.

1 Comment
  1. Martin Arrand says

    “She does not expect perfection”

    Quite: that’s why we act on the system (e.g. through error-proofing) to reduce defects to zero. We don’t place undue pressure on our team members to reach unrealistic levels of personal perfection.

    I can’t help thinking some managers haven’t grasped the distinction (yet).

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