Deming was right…

…not that it should matter to anyone that I agree with him, but I do.

So why should you care that Deming was right?

Because just as other authors have discovered the mechanisms at work in creating empowered cultures (Gallup’s strengths work) and transformational change (Kotter’s Leading Change), so W. Edwards Deming cataloged beautifully the flaws in modern organizations and proposed solutions to the flaws, a system to replace the old and restore dignity to work and unleash the potential of every man or woman.

Deming advocated for leaders to seek out a system of profound knowledge, where the leader could see the broad system, and act on the system to achieve true transformation.

Building on Deming’s work, Marcia Daszko has published an article, What it Takes to be a Profound Leader.

Frequent readers of this blog will see tie between driving change and profound leadership, notably in these thoughts:

2. Create an environment where people are self-motivated.  They realize the power is not in motivating people, but rather that the power is in creating a place where people are self-motivated to contribute.  Then, get out of their way and the organization will go places you probably did not imagine.

4. Remove barriers so people can do Quality work together. Ask what is getting int he way of the people accomplishing their work and then respond to serve them.

7. Create new leaders.  Develop the natural leadership in everyone.  Help people reach their fullest potential. Coach and counsel people. Learn what is important to people, to different generations, groups and teams, and cultures.

Self-motivated people? Check.  When you’re driving change, you’re asking the people in your organization who would like to help, you’ve removed the policies that punish the helpful, and you’ve waited for the people to step forward.  And they’ve stepped forward.  You didn’t have to wait long.

Remove barriers? Check.  When you’re driving change, you’re the leader who is blowing apart barriers, using what positional authority you have to clear the way to drive your organization into the future.  It’s awesome to watch!

Create new leaders? Check. When you’re driving change, you can’t help but create new leaders because you’ve stepped back from making every decision and you’ve allowed others to lead.  You give them the opportunity and more than a few have seized it and truly impressed you.  It’s a phenomenal sight!

Though you may have no time or interest, consider adding Deming into your to-read list and, at minimum, look over Ms. Daszko’s article.

If you don’t know how you would actually implement any one of her 16 steps to profound leadership, just post a comment and ask.  I’m sure together we can come up with something to make you even more successful at driving change.  After all, that’s why I’m here!

3 thoughts on “Deming was right…”

  1. In the culture transition, from old to new, I’ve found the self-motivated are obvious and only need a little dusting to let the sunlight back in. The non-self-motivated, what to do? I’ve tried different techniques, all to varying degrees. Just find how they can be helpful to the others? Or…?

  2. IMO, the people who don’t show self-motivation are just in a state of apathy. We all have the capacity for self-motivation. Maybe they don’t see any value to the work in front of them. Or they see value but have so many roadblocks and hurdles that they feel powerless. Perhaps they are lacking the vision and more importantly, the role they can play in that vision.

    When employees are apathetic, you can expect the bare minimum from them. The key is finding ways to get them to use their discretionary effort. Giving employees the vision, empowering them to do something about it, and then placing them in positions that lends to their strengths will yield a fountain of self-motivation. …or so the story goes 🙂

  3. April K. Mills

    Part of reaching the seemingly unmotivated is to ask them either what that they value that they may lose if they behave differently or what they fear will happen if they behave differently. Both of those questions give you something tangible to address. Maybe the loss or the fear is just their perception and you can set up situations to show them the risk isn’t there. Or, maybe the risk or fear is real and you can take action to remove the risk or fear.

    Here’s a common example: Employees don’t show you how much they could get done in a day because they worry you would lay them or one of their friends off if all the work was done in less time or by less people. Years ago when I watched an organization start Lean, this was the biggest fear of the employees. A top executive tried to address the fear by making the statement, “No one will lose their job because of Lean gains.” The problem is no one believed him. Or, more importantly, the managers between him and the work force weren’t repeating the “No one loses their job” message. They kept taking about reducing the number of people to do the work. And, for many years, this unaddressed fear kept many people in a seemingly unmotivated state.

    Getting to the risk and the fear and acting to dissolve it, whether through direct action or demonstrated success, is one of the few ways I know of to truly re-motivate the unmotivated.

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