October 11, 2010

Inspiring

Well, what can I say. 8:00 this morning, driving down the A45 all I could think of was how many people seem to know very little, if anything at all about the highway code, or how to drive in general. Feeling I had to express my road rage creatively I thought a full on grumpy rant would more than likely by my next blog entry. Little did I expect that our introduction to CBE (Creating Business Excellence) would capture my imagination and completely distract me from the mornings frustrations.

A discussion based on the ideas W. Edwards Deming regarding the principals of Management. Principals which contradict the widespread westerm management techniques internal competitiveness in the work force and target based management. In the UK for example, they are both clearly present in most areas of the private and public sectors. Hospitals have targets in terms of patient care, time with each patient, and number of people "processed". Schools have set targets to meet in terms of grades. Private enterprises base their management goals on sales targets. Individuals are frequently renumerated based on their performance leading to people striving for individual gain as opposed to collective gain within their workplace. None of this is revelatory however.

For me, what sparked my interest was Deming's alternate view on how to achieve management excellence, and the wide applicability of his ideas. This theory centred around 14 principles of manangement that would create a situation in which the leadership and workforce within an organisation would cooperate in such a way that teamwork is promoted and the desire for self-improvement is created on both an aggregate level for the whole organisation, and a micro level for each individual employee. By the removal of interdepartment and hierarchical barriers, efficiency problems become clearer and a process of improvement can be initiated. If the desire for self improvement is present, the Deming Cycle, or PDCA (Plan-DO-Check-Act) method can be applied to determine the source of any potential improvement and act accordingly. This PDCA method of self assessment and improvement can be applied into all aspects of life and work in which a desire or need for improvement exists.

I am under no illusions that my knowledge on this topic is incomplete, but these ideas of removing statistics and target based management for leadership and motivation got me thinking about what firms that have used various aspects of this theory in a successful manner, and to what extend Deming's ideas were utilised. Google for example allows employees time for personal projects as part of their working day which has lead to many successful innovations in various aspects of their organisation. John Lewis can be used as an example of a business that has organised its ownership structure in a way that all employees are part owners of the organisation, which naturally promote a desire to collective self improvement because all employees gain from the success and development of the business.

My reading on this topic is far from over, but what I do know at the moment is that this is going to be an interesting topic to explore.


- 4 comments by 2 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Paul Roberts

    A good post Kieran. An example that Deming used to use I think further illustrates the points that you make. Consider an orchestra. What would it be like if all the players of various instruments were in competition with each other? Clearly chaos. It is likely that the percussion and wind instruments would drown out the others in the attempts to be heard. The conductor would be superfluous! In many orchestras the individual players may not be world class in terms of a solo career, but under an effective conductor, the team creates…....

    12 Oct 2010, 10:30

  2. Thats a great anology. I believe it is a truism that for any team or group to function effectively there must exist cooperation and mutual respect between its members, including leadership. Every role has a part to play, and if you consider the various functions of roles within a team as pillars supporting the teams success, the growth or reduction of any one pillar will destabilise the overall success of the team. This synergy within a team is what leads to its success.

    12 Oct 2010, 14:01

  3. I agree with what Mesut says but to a certain extent. I would argue that the growth of a team’s member shall mean that he/she is not in the right position/team. it does not mean that he has to keep functioning less than he can. everybody has the right to function according to the energy and the knowledge they has. I think this is one of the most difficult tasks for a manager;which is allocating teams’ members. especially if you can not choose the employees.

    on the other hand, some might debate that a team should include a diversity of skills and abilities and every person has a role in a team. this what makes a team successful.

    either vision has positives and weaknesses…

    14 Oct 2010, 22:21

  4. I see what you mean Ayham, I think I needed to clarify the pillar analogy abit more though. I didn’t want to suggest that each member in a team shouldn’t perform to the best of their ability. What I meant and tried to convey with the pillars analogy is that if the team is well managed, everybody fits into the team perfectly with a role that allows them to fully utilise their talents and support the team in its efforts to succeed. However, If any member of the team diverges from the teams direction then the team will be destabalised. For the pillar analogy for example, a team member becomes lazy and he does less than his role requires him to, his pillar reduces in size, the success held at the top becomes less stable. Inversely, if he attempts too much and interferes with other team members roles, his pillar grows which again can destabalise success.

    You do have a very good point with the difficulty a manager faces when they aren’t able to choose their team. I believe this demonstrates one of the advantages of management models such as EFQM and ISO 9000 over those such as the Balanced Scorecard and Management by objective. The former two incorporate aspects of the manner in which employees are managed as a factor of achieving success, whereas the latter two look only the the metric results achieved by the employees in terms of their productivity.

    14 Oct 2010, 23:39


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