Posted by: Knightbird | May 7, 2012


One problem with learning the 14 principles taught by Dr. Deming and the Toyota Production System as well as I have is the frustration you feel when talking or listening to people who have no clue. I feel like I am speaking a foreign language.

I am listening to a national health leader talk about using a consulting based patient improvement program. I know many organizations that have gone through the system. Many have to go through the program as many as 3 times in order to just match the minimal expectations of the program. We went through it and found that, while there was some information that proved valuable, the program itself ran out of anything to offer a lean organization in a very short period of time. But our lean management principles are applied not only in the delivery of patient care, but for every aspect of our operations, from finance, knowledge management, janitorial and every other aspect of operations. The program being pushed does none of the other performance improvement work that lean does, but it is all they offer. And yet they think they are doing a great job.

I also heard about performance improvement accountability from this government organization. As Dr. Deming taught us, 98% of defects in an organization can be attributed to poor processes. Yet this executive wants to blame employees.

I also talk to tribal leaders frequently and they also have very little knowledge about what to expect from their organization. Most of their expectations are based on friendship and how well the executive bullies employees into fixing the complaints they bring to the executive. In other works, transactional measures, not transformational.

What is most frustrating is that people are dying while good management is ignored or has such low standards that employees live down to them. Lean is that good. When your employees buy in, the results are on their way to phenomenal.


  1. I received a “management seminar” brochure in the mail that made me sick to my stomach… it was all about “dealing with problem employees” the the stereotypes of “clock watchers,” “complainers,” and the like. I doubt that seminar talks about the role of leaders in creating a system…

  2. In as much as these are the realities of life…so is the approach of Deming to management as he goes to speak with people on the floor more than management…It is simply saying that management need only embrace the principles of lean before the much needed “phenomenal” results are realized…e.g. we can only apply change where it can be made…processes – yes…people? Only to those who would accept that there is need for such and is willing to commit unwaivering to it.

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