Mobility of Management – Battling Deming’s Fourth Disease


Dr. Deming spoke of this disease more than 30 years ago. Mobility of management refers to the constant job hopping of management personnel.


Interestingly corporations today not only contribute to this disease but almost encourage it.  Human resource departments are quick to remind professionals to keep resume updated and ready for the next opportunity. This is similar to the preacher at your wedding handing you an unsigned divorce paper to keep handy just in case later opportunities should arise. Now they’re both being realistic but what about the underlying message? The debate depends entirely on culture and context. Decoding your company’s unwritten corporate code is easier for some than others.

Take for instance a 20 year first line supervisor. One organization this person is viewed as a true asset while other firms could deem this as professional stagnation.  Culture and context will have much to do with the prevalence of this disease.

Mobility in management in lean environments can be devastating to employees. During their lean journey organizations are quite fragile. Constantly rotating leadership is especially detrimental to these organizations.  According to Deming creates uncertainty and bewilderment. This is certainly true in lean environments where adherences to certain guiding principles are necessary for the proper maturation of the process.  Oftentimes new leaders tear down systems in place due to lack of knowledge of that system. Prima donnas looking for quick results will annihilate teamwork.

I’m certainly singing to the choir on this topic.

Here are some recommendations to slow this disease.

  • Have a culture that rewards depth of knowledge as well as breathe of knowledge.
  • Decide on a path and a culture then hire and promote individuals to strengthen not change that course.
  • Promote from within as much as possible.
  • Have internal leadership programs as well as hiring into leadership programs.
  • Quick seeking and rewarding actions that promote only short term gains.

Organizations continue grow into behemoth entities that operate worldwide.  Because of this factor mobility in management will continue to be a constant battle to overcome.  The first step to recovery is to simply admit you have a problem.

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