Deming’s 14 points for management. My red pill.

“All anyone asks for is a chance to work with pride. Put a good person in a bad system and the bad system wins, no contest.” Deming

I am a William Deming fan he devised amongst other things 14 points for management. And he changed the way I see businesses and how they work, especially agencies. He was my red pill.

He was one of the founding fathers of what is called ‘systems thinking’. Today we have Lean Six Sigma black belts!

He was largely rejected in America and instead made his name in Japan creating the Toyota Production System (TPS) that focused on quality which drove down costs and eliminated waste.

American and British companies later tried to copy the methods of Toyota but they failed because they did not copy their underlying principles.

Deming said “The more they copy Toyota the less like Toyota they become.”  It’s their principles, theories and their thinking they need to encourage in their businesses.

Deming claimed management is a human creation and we need to re-create it.

How many of his 14 points would help agencies today?

Deming’s 14 points

  1. Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service, with the aim to become competitive, stay in business and to provide jobs.
  2. Adopt the new philosophy. We are in a new economic age. Western management must awaken to the challenge, must learn their responsibilities, and take on leadership for change.
  3. Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality. Eliminate the need for massive inspection by building quality into the product in the first place.
  4. End the practice of awarding business on the basis of a price tag. Instead, minimise total cost. Move towards a single supplier for any one item, on a long-term relationship of loyalty and trust.
  5. Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service, to improve quality and productivity, and thus constantly decrease costs.
  6. Institute training on the job.
  7. Institute leadership . The aim of supervision should be to help people and machines and gadgets do a better job. Supervision of management is in need of overhaul, as well as supervision of production workers.
  8. Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company.
  9. Break down barriers between departments. People in research, design, sales, and production must work as a team, in order to foresee problems of production and usage that may be encountered with the product or service.
  10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the work force asking for zero defects and new levels of productivity. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships, as the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the system and thus lie beyond the power of the work force.
  11. a. Eliminate work standards (quotas) on the factory floor. Substitute with leadership.
    b. Eliminate management by objective. Eliminate management by numbers and numerical goals. Instead substitute with leadership.
  12. a. Remove barriers that rob the hourly worker of his right to pride of workmanship. The responsibility of supervisors must be changed from sheer numbers to quality.b. Remove barriers that rob people in management and in engineering of their right to pride of workmanship. This means, inter alia, abolishment of the annual or merit rating and of management by objective.
  13. Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement.
  14. Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everybody’s job.

They would probably help the clients of agencies too especially point 4.

Deming believed that much of the variation in a business performance was caused by the system (the way a business is organised and it’s purpose) rather than being the fault of what he called the ‘willing workers’. But he didn’t mean purpose the way branding and ad folk do today.

Management too often emphasised driving down costs which he showed ultimately increased costs.  Be it outsourcing, hiring cheap staff or cutting corners.

He advocated driving up quality with their being no target or ceiling for improvements. The way to make improvements can be fed back by those that actually do the work.

Inspection of workers work causes more waste and only measures problems rather than showing the employees how to eliminate them. How many people and how many times did that ad / copy get checked?

The people who do the work should have access to the customers.  Too often a customer has to go three people to get to the person who has the answers.    This is caused by management trying to drive down costs.  Putting cheaper (un-trained) people in the front line, these people have limited ability to solve a customers issues in full, so they pass you to person #2 – like at a call centre. Or account management to creatives in an agency.

He showed that there didn’t need to be elitism in a businesses organisation – there was no need for constant inspections of worker, no 360 degree reviews or ranking or employees that just breeds dis-content in the business. And injects fear and distrust.

Workers are intrinsically motivated to do good work if they are allowed to.  Lead them don’t manage them.

Training should not be in a vacuum but should be done in context, on the job.

Arbitrary target setting causes cheating to hit the targets and causes a loss of quality. Where as the goal should be quality improvement which is never-ending.

Employees should be encouraged to indulge in self-improvement and education for what that brings to the business.

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