October 15, 2009

First Entry

Hello. This is the first of hopefully many blog entries. I have never had a blog before, nor did I think that I would ever have one. I don't dislike the idea at all, but I'm not entirely sure that I regularly have enough to say to keep things interesting, but I suppose I'll find out if that's true soon enough.

On Monday morning we watched a video of Demming, a clearly important man who had a lot of interesting things to say. One of his main points was that there will always be variability within a job, and it is necessary to continuously improve to reduce this variability, rather than ever saying "that's good enough". This raised a few questions for me, as it has a few assumptions within. Is Demming just talking about industrial jobs or is he talking about all places of work? Is there always variability in a job? so I tried to think of various different jobs. a skilled industrial worker will have variability, as the tools and measurements can change from day to day, and it will be hard for them to be exact. a salesperson...well here I'm not sure. The salesperson clearly isn't in complete control, and continuously improving can only be a positive, but I can't quite see where the variability is in this case. Another point that came up in the video was the idea of cooperation vs competition. There's no doubt in my mind that competition, if at a healthy level, will result in increased levels of performance in many situations. Maybe the important point is to not manage with an environment of solely competition, but from the Xerox example that Paul gave, it was clear that negligible competition can result in a company falling apart. Although the idea of increasing the size of the pie rather than the portion was a very good one. So I'm still a little undecided as to whether I agree with Mr Demming yet. At least I understood his accent though. I was looking around the room and saw more than a few puzzled faces whenever he started to speak! 

- 2 comments by 2 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Paul Roberts

    You raise some interesting points and questions Nick. The question about the existence of variation is that it exists everywhere. Can you think of any process that you have operated or have been part of that produces an identical result time after time? If you think that you have found one, just increase the accuracy with which you measure the output variable! The performance of a salesman is subject to many sources of variation – to name but a few – the economic situation of the purchaser, the purchaser’s mood, the salesman’s mood and how much he/she needs the sale.

    When you refer to competition increasing performance, are you referring to internal or external competition? As individuals within an organization, we are part of a system. How can it help the performance of the system if its component parts are in competition with each other?

    20 Oct 2009, 21:03

  2. Well I think it’s fair to say that my attitude to competition and co-operation changed after our seminar on that very subject. I’m still trying to come up with situations where external competition whilst internal co-operation can be profitable, but falling short apart from very specific cases such as sports teams. Even then, it’s hard to call it external competition apart from the matches, as they all are desperate for the sport to grow, which of course takes co-operation? So is this competition or co-operation? I’m still a little bit lost on that one!

    25 Oct 2009, 22:06

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