October 25, 2013

Demise of the West?

An interesting point was raised in class today, the idea of whether European/American countries are ready to embrace the methods outlined in Deming's fourteen points or whether the current models of EFQM and Baldrige need to be used. The reason for the "shunning" of Deming's methods (if you could call it that) is that Deming barely focuses on the results, but on the processes and the people who ultimately influence the result. In Japan, businesses are able to embrace this culture and identity, they believe and know that they by spedning time refining processes, adhering to the methods of Kaizen for example, and continually improving, the results in due course will improve. This may seem rather obvious, however the main excellence models used in the West, EFQM and Baldrige, focus much more on the results.

This may be because businesses in the West pay much more attention to financial information and how the results of the business are affected, rather than being solely concerned on the processes within the organisation. This was in fact raised inadvertantly in the class session, 'meetings, meetings, meetings!' on Monday. I was a hypothetical financial manager of a hotel in that practical exercise. A student acting as the bar and restaurant manager wanted more money to try and imrpove their restaurant and the services they offer. My information card said that money was tight and sales in the restaurant were decreasing. Therefore, with my Western upbringing, I was mainly interested and focused on the financial results (as opposed to the benefits to excellence), and asked the bar and restaurant manager what benefits and returns would we see based on further investment. He was unable to provide me with an answer and myself and the whole group undertaking the meeting instantly dismissed his claims for investment stating that it was unviable and would be better served keeping our limited funds elsewhere.

This example perhaps illustrates the reason Western socities choose not to use Deming's model, as our cultural upbringing has seen us become far more focused on the result, and doing everything we can to improve results, such as our financial takings, as opposed to looking primarily at the processes and looking to be a better, more productive and efficient organisation. Perhaps this is why the use of EFQM and Baldrige is more prevelant in the West. Arguably, Western firms are more focused on risk assessment and maintaing position rather than focusing on exploring and seizing more opportunity.

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