Edwards Deming

Edwards Deming

One memorable quote of W. Edwards Deming was “A bad system will beat a good person every time”. This is relevant because most organizations focused primarily on developing people not processes. The stars of these organizations are those who know how to work outside the system to get things done. If this is how your managers moved through the ranks there is little incentive for them to improve the process.


Think of politics today I believe we can all agree the government is no longer as functional as it was in the past. Government can no longer do even small things without a high level of drama and partisanship. In November of 2015 Congress has an approval rating of 11% but in 2014 95% of house members were reelected. How does this happen” Read Deming’s quote again but slower.

I’m afraid the same thing is happening in business as government. The PROCESS no longer yields results. How much time do you spend daily feeding information to a chart hungry organization? I ‘m a chart wonk myself but that is only one part of the process. The ultimate goal is not the chart but the actions taken after it’s generated. When the tools of improvement become the focus rather than the results of those tools than you’ve lost focus. We spend far too many hours generating data rather than solving problems. Too much time sharpening our axes but never swinging them! Teaching continuous improvement in an organization to all shouldn’t be your main focus RESULTS of that teaching should. It would be better to have the talented tenth of the organization learning and leading then mandating 100% participation then calling that success.

Organizations also spend an exorbitant amount of time on employee reviews. Deming saw employee reviews as a total waste of time for improving performance. I totally agree.

Deming wrote..

The fact is that the system that people work in and the interaction with people may account for 90 or 95 percent of performance”.

So basically whatever plan, goal or objective you and your manager agree upon it’s the process that will dictate success.

As Lean Soldier (Practitioner) our job is to lead the call in the elimination of waste wherever it’s found. Do you feel your activities are yielding results or just part of a larger dog and pony show? Regardless keep moving toward real change improving THE PROCESS that’s where exponential growth can be found.

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  1. aaKING Coach says:

    Very TRUE, in the bigger scheme of things (percentage wise) the system always win. It will take minimum 7 years to out the current system, BUT by that time a set of system from the old one has S L O W L Y emerged and the cycle continues!

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