3 word Deming


I found this sorry article left in a meeting room.

As you can see, not much progress had been made.

Flip charts in meeting rooms are brilliant evidence of the thinking that was in the room.

Imagine that is you in that room with a piece of flip chart paper and a marker pen. You’re lost because you don’t know the causes of poor performance so you definitely won’t know what to do about them. How could you guess the answer if you can’t even guess the right question?
Where would you start?

Here’s a joke, more a Zen parable than laugh-out-loud, about where to start.

A tourist is lost in the countryside in Ireland, he sees a local and approaches him and asks for directions. The local replies, “Well, I wouldn’t start from here”

When you don’t have a method for improvement, all you have is a blank piece of paper in a room. Well I wouldn’t start from there.

Instead, remember these three words, in this order:

You can’t bake a cake by guesswork, it requires a recipe.

Same with work, you can’t come up with improvements, they don’t spring fully formed in your mind. You need a method.

Deming was the man who was all about the method, and those three words were some of his favourite.
Want to improve? By what method?




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4 Responses to 3 word Deming

  1. That could include intuition rather than fishbone diagrams, workflow plans, critical path analyses etc.


    • ThinkPurpose says:

      Thats an intersting take on intuition. Where there is quick and learnable feedback from the application of intuition.
      When I see “intuition” in office based settings, I just see lazy thinking instead. Perhaps because feedback on the effectiveness of the intuition isn’t as direct as in firefighting or in nursing, so it can’t get better? Instead it remains at novice level, as it can’t improve the models it relies on?
      I’m not a promoter of tools though, like aforementioned fishbones etc. Pull them when needed, but just like pulling a knife from a cutlery drawer when you need it, rather than take a knife out the cutlery drawer and wave it around looking to use it.


  2. Charles Beauregard says:

    If you are in a situation where you want people to make better decisions, get them to drink loads of water beforehand, and then ban them from going to the toilet. Seriously: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/choke/201104/needing-pee-enhances-decision-making-really


  3. You must be permanently suffering in your work environment. Torture! Stay strong mate.


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