October 07, 2013

Deming

Writing about web page motivation, money, reward, job, work, recognition, deming

The video of William Edwards Deming and his philosophy of management sparked quite the debate in class. Paul Roberts seemed quite passionate in sharing Deming's view of tracing mistakes in processes back to the human/management variable. To my understanding that means we are to assume that all mistakes in a process in an organization stems from management. This was a hard pill for me to swallow. But after spending sometime thinking about the idea, I can understand that what Deming means. When a process is first created it doesn't matter if it is wrong, what matters the most is that the problem is found and addressed in a consistent manner. Like Paul mentioned during the first day of induction, it is more important to learn to learn and constantly seek education thank to know actual knowledge.

Deming's view on reward and recognition is still a concept I find hard to agree with. Although I see the benefits and potential of it's philoophy, I however still believe that some employess need this idea of a monetary incentive to really motvate them. This capitalist view is what most American's would say has made America 'great' (depends on your definition of great). This is probably the reason why the florida company refused to adopt that aspect of Deming's philosophy. The only way that I see Deming's approach of no individual rewards being effective is if almost everybody in the organiztaion has enough passion for their occupation so that the introduction of a better work environment would only enhance their self motivation.

This might be a cynical view of what I think motivates people. I am open to entertaining Deming's approach and seeing the kind of results it yields.


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  1. Benjamin Roberts

    I think you raise some really interesting points, particularly when considering that only management are responsible for any mistakes that are made within an organisational process. One thing this highlights according to Deming is the importance of communication within an organisation. As you said yourself, if it is managements fault for implementing a mistake, it may take management a very long time to perhaps discover this error as they may not directly be involved within the production process. Therefore, this highlights the extreme importance of successful communication from employees to management alerting them of this mistake, and perhaps offering solutions to the problem. I would suggest that this alludes to a concept by another management guru called Tom Peters, who wanted top level management to interact and understand what was going on at the most basic level of the organisation.

    Your points on reward and recognition interests me, however, I don’t necessarily agree with all of your views. I think if there is, as Paul said in todays class, a reward given out on a pro-rata basis, employees within an organisation would feel better recognised by their efforts, and it would create a real team spirit in and amongst the employees. I think looking at sport is a great way of viewing at this. It is well documented in cricket that Geoffrey Boycott believed he was the best player in the England cricket team from the 1960-80s and that he threatened many times not to play in the side unless he was paid more money than other players, as he felt he was above other players and would single handedly win them games. I don’t know about you, but I do not think this would offer a successful way of boosting morale within a team, and it would certainly not motivate other players if management bowed to him demands.

    I can understand the benefits of performance related pay to individuals, but I believe providing rewards on a pro-rata basis is more beneficial to the culture of the organisation, and the satisfaction of the majority of employees working within that organisation.

    07 Oct 2013, 19:49

  2. “This capitalist view is what most American’s would say has made America ‘great’ (depends on your definition of great) . . . . .”

    Is really America great . . . . .. . . . ??? Because my definition of great is far away of the 2008 and the some weeks ago crisis (which we do not know where is it going to lead). . . It is also far away from the concept of huge unemployment rates and the infinite homeless people. It is also far away from the concept of being so inefficient with country’s resources, which in America are more than enough, and conducting a war when we need some oil. . .

    So please correct but i cannot see what is great with the American way or else the “American dream”. . . .

    07 Oct 2013, 22:56

  3. Charles Adjei

    Benjamin, I agree that a pro-rata basis would probably boost morale and create a happier work place. I am very open to experimenting with this management style. However I do no think this approach can be applied universally with every industry.

    One example that pops into my head is the real estate industry. I know that the income of real estate agents is LARGELY based on commission. Also I know that real estate agents work for a realty company but work on their own time a lot of the times because they spend a lot of time with clients and potential buyers. What if a real estate agent worked tirelessly by following up on clients with meetings, lunches, dinners, extensive research on their clients in order to cater their sales pitch to convince clients to buy a house. Lets say this agent (agent A) managed to sell 10 houses that year. While another agent (agent B) didn’t put in nearly as much work as agent A. Agent B managed to sell 2 houses that year. Also Agent A’s houses sold were all significantly more expensive than agent B’s houses, which means that they were harder to sell but also had a bigger commision.

    Do you think that spreading the wealth throughout the whole organization on a pro rata basis would be fair in this situation? And do you believe that this would boost morale in the organization (specifically the morale of agent A)?

    Yes I understand that you might say that the morale of the whole organization surpasses the morale of one employee. But don’t you think this philosophy can sometimes halt the potential of some superstars within an organization?

    Just some thoughts.

    08 Oct 2013, 16:59

  4. Benjamin Roberts

    I agree with your point and example Charles, that’s a terrific example. It’s a shame you didn’t get the chance to say it in class to Paul because it would have been interesting to see his response!

    To apply an idea universally across the board is always likely to find some scenarios which contradict or don’t support an argument. I suppose as real estate agents are largely paid based on commission, the argument of pro rata based bonuses would not fit. I suppose the same could be said for pizza delivery drivers, and that the idea of a universal bonus paid across on a pro rata would not work. I guess in that sort of employment, the line between a fixed wage and bonus varies depending on each delivery, or house sold etc between workers, and should be dealt on an individual instead of collective basis.

    I suppose the best solution to a worker in the real estate industry is to pay bonuses based on their sales. However I imagine Paul would argue that Agent B has still managed to sell 2 houses, and deserves a bonus, even though Agent A has managed to sell 5 times as many! I suppose this would link back to his argument that a student who obtains an MSC but may have 15 marks less than another student doesn’t take away the fact they’ve earned an MSC degree, as you don’t necessarily know the reasons they’ve obtained a lower mark. I guess the same could be said for estate agent B?

    08 Oct 2013, 19:35

  5. Anne Ayang

    I particularly like the passion part in the first piece because really how many people do you see get a job they are so passionate about? Hmm well not alot in Nigeria because in the first place job opportunities are very few compared to the large number of youths who graduate yearly.

    So i quite agree that these incentives act as artificial passion…hehehe. but how long are the managers going to continue to push people to do stuffs with incentives?

    why not lets build a strong community of workers who have developed a certain passion for their jobs while on the job. I know its sounds hard but I believe its possible. I worked in a private IT company back in Lagos Nigeria and can you imagine the motto of the company is “Nothing is impossible” so my boss expects everyone to be able to deploy any technology solution to any client at anytime no excuses. “If you dont know the technology, google will help” he says that often. As a company we used google alot to fix technical issues individually and I was totally new to the system and I wasnt the best in the team and sometimes when a team member goes out to a client’s site to deploy a solution and unluckily if he runs into technical issues which he’s never seen or resolved before ….well you how these computers, routers and switches can fumble sometimes he then calls his fellow team mates for a backup/assistance.

    so my point exactly is if there were incentives in the department I am not sure my other team mates like wise myself would be happy to assist the team mate on the field who is stock with resolving this clients issues because if so then at the end of the quarter if the person assisted happens to win the incentives I am sure no one would be inclined to assist in the future and indirectly the company suffers because we used SLAs and turnaround time will drag.

    This is just my own little experience…

    08 Oct 2013, 21:06

  6. Benjamin Roberts

    I think that’s a good point Anne! Personally I feel for most businesses that financial rewards and incentives should be for everyone (if they are used) as rather than potentially increase competition amongst workers, it helps boost team morale and subsequently, productivity through the sharing of knowledge. I think your personal experience from your time working in Nigeria sums this up nicely!

    08 Oct 2013, 21:58

  7. Miriam Auer

    I believe that the problem stems from our breeding. Human beings are simply used to these systems. It is natural for us to get rewarded. Think back, kindergarten, primer school, high school, aren’t they all based on a reward system? I think this is the reason why so many schools without grading systems are popping out of nowhere in Austria. So I am with you, I do also have the problem to visualize firms without rewarding and promoting. The real estate example you were giving is a good example for a tough business to implement this kind of management, however… don’ t you think that if there would be no competition, but a collaborative working atmosphere where people are helping each other instead of competing, would lead to a much better business result? Meaning that working together would lead to a wealthy business, and isn’t this the final goal in the end?

    10 Oct 2013, 10:58

  8. Paul Roberts

    A great discussion to which I would like to contribute some thoughts. Taking your example of selling houses Charles, I perceive the underlying assumption that Agent A and Agent B are on a level playing field. That is, they have equal opportunities to sell housing stock of various values in various locations. It is likely that the expensive homes are located in more desirable areas and are affordable only to people who are wealthy enough to finance their purchase and maintenance. Is it possible that wealthy people like to be wined and dined as a prelude to a purchase that they would have probably made anyway? Is it possible that Agent A is stroking their egos in order to compete with other agents who are selling similar stock?

    On the other hand, perhaps Agent B finds personal fulfilment in helping less well-off people to secure mortgages on far less expensive properties. I suspect that it is harder to sell properties to people for whom the purchase or mortgage and subsequent maintenance is financially challenging, and so it is possible that Agent B has to work harder, without expensive dinners, to sell his two properties. Are his skills and efforts worth less than those of Agent A? What would happen to the agency if agents refused to sell the cheaper homes, fighting with each other to sell the attractive stock? If all agencies took the same approach, could it lead to a situation in which less desirable areas with cheaper housing contained more and more empty houses that no agent wanted to sell? Here I’ll let my imagination run riot and suggest that this could pave the way for unscrupulous landlords to buy up the unwanted properties so that they could let them at great profit to the people who would find it difficult to purchase them without the help of guys like Agent B.

    Of course, we are discussing a hypothetical case, without the benefit of facts, but it appears to be easy to make the assumption that the financial result is the only measure of an employee’s worth—there is no need, nor value in considering any other variables. Models such as the EFQM Excellence model indicate that financial performance is just one part of an organization’s results and that we should be considering employee, customer and society results as well as business results if we wish to develop sustainably successful organizations.

    As always, I’d welcome your thoughts.

    10 Oct 2013, 15:42

  9. Benjamin Roberts

    Miriam, I think your perspective on getting rid of competition is a lovely idea, and I would much rather immerse myself in a collaborative environment in a working situation rather than a competitive environment.

    However, I think that for a large percentage of people, status and praise are essential (if not necessarily in the form of financial reward). If work becomes collaborative, how do you separate employees and reward them with promotions or extra responsibility for their endeavours. Linking back to the real estate example, if an individual secures a big sale, some individuals would want the public status that comes from achieving a successful deal in business at the very least, and the praise from their superiors, never mind the financial reward that would normally be associated with it. Do you not feel that removing a competitive element removes some accountability from employees over their work?

    Do you think it would be possible for this to happen if individuals were working together more like you originally said? Or would individuals still receive praise on an individual basis, but financial reward on a shared basis?

    10 Oct 2013, 19:42

  10. Miriam Auer

    But isn’t this the view, we need to get rid off. I do understand, that there might be a problem when we are young, and we need to be lured by rewards to learn something new, but aren’t we old enough to see the obvious? This is a new time, and a new time cries for new approaches. We can see today, that social sciences are having evidence that rewards are simply not working with most of the industries. Why do you need to separately reward employees? Pay them more for their regular work, but don’t give them individual rewards to fight each other. I don’t thin that taking away rewards removes accountability from employees. We are logical thinking human beings and I believe, that if you empower employees, by giving them their personal freedom and giving them the opportunity to be creative you will achieve better results. Better results will lead to a better status of the firm as a whole and therefore people will be associated with the business and get their public status. I believe after this week that you should get rid of financial rewards in total and might pay your workers better for what they are doing on a regular basis.

    18 Oct 2013, 16:02

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    29 Oct 2013, 23:51


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