Point 14 – Top Management Commitment to Action

Clearly define top management’s permanent commitment to ever improving quality and
productivity, and their obligation to implement all of these principles. Indeed, it is not enough that top management commit themselves for life to quality and productivity. They must know what it is that they are committed to—that is, what they must do. Create a structure in top management that will push every day on the preceding 13 Points, and take action in order to accomplish the transformation. Support is not enough: action is required!

Dr. W. Edwards Deming

What is Management’s Job – Commitment to Action

One of my father’s favorite sayings was, “lead, follow or get out of the way”. Management’s job is to lead. There must be a commitment to constant and on-going improvement. Each and every morning, management must look at their operation and decide what needs improvement and make a commitment to take action.

The Price of Failed Commitment to Action

If management does not make a commitment to constant and on-going improvement, it
will not happen. Management does not have to implement  the change but they must lead the change or their employees will end up building internal empires or chasing projects with
a lower value to the company.

Part of creating this commitment is developing a structure that guides the employees to
an on-going commitment of improvements in quality and productivity. Management must establish a system, indicate its’ importance to the company and demonstrate their own commitment to constantly and forever improving. It does not have to be fancy, but management must believe and support it.

The Call for Commitment to Action

There is a childhood chant, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will
never hurt me.” I wish it were true. How many suicides were prompted by cruel words? Words have power, the power to build up or the power to tear down.When management stands up and says “this is who we are and this is what we stand for” it can change the world.

My first job was with an ethical pharmaceutical company. We had a simple rule,
“Would you want your child to take this medicine?” If the answer was no, we threw it away. Every person on the line had the ability to call the supervisor and point out a problem. Each and every person on that line knew the importance of what they did and that attitude came from the top down. The VP of manufacturing walked through the plant several times a day and any operator
could stop him with a question or a concern. We had power and pride.

So what are you going to do, lead, follow or get out of the way?

Point 13 -Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks – Encourage Education

 

Old dogs like to learn new tricks

If you stop training with the basics you will get a bored and desctructive dog and employee

Encourage education

Institute a vigorous program of education, and encourage self improvement for everyone. What an organization needs is not just good people; it needs people that are improving with education. Advances in competitive position will have their roots in knowledge.

Dr.W. Edwards Deming

Education the antidote to boredom

One of the interesting things I love about training in German Shepherds is they love to learn. It takes about two years to get one to search ready status but that
is only the begin. If you try to stop there, you will get a bored and probably
destructive dog. Instead we train new skills; air scent, then tracking,
obstacles, human remains, evidence articles, the list is as long as your imagination. The dogs love it and the benefit to the search team is a strong and capable canine with the ability to always get the job done no matter what the job is.

People aren’t that much different. Someone who does the same tasks year after year without change can get bored and stale. Providing regular and varied education keeps a person’s mindsharp. When it comes time for someone to come up with a new idea the person who you trained will most likely be the one to come up with the answer.

Encourage Education in the Hourly Workforce

  My first job as a production supervisor was an education in itself. I had one employee that was intelligent and articulate but kept making serious mistakes. This was a person I wanted to promote and instead I was regularly writing up violations for the silliest of mistakes. It was coming to the point where I was going to have to terminate this individual. As I reviewed his personnel file, I found a note he had written giving a friend permission to pick up the employee’s paycheck. I started to see a glimmer of the problem. The next day I had the man read a procedure and sign off that he had read and understood it. He made a good show of taking time on each page and flipping pages. As he tried to make his exit from my office, I had him sit down and we discussed the procedure. It didn’t take long for us both to know he couldn’t read. I got him signed up with literacy volunteers and it wasn’t long before the problems we had been experiencing went away. Encouraging education made the difference for both the employee and the company.

Encourage Education in the Salaried Workforce

As a person gains experience, it can be difficult to find courses being offered in their field where they should be the student. In more than a few cases, I’ve taken courses where the professor posted their credentials and I realized my credentials were better. I could leave and demand my money back or I could sit there and listen. When I have chosen to sit and listen, I generally find a kernel of wisdom I hadn’t thought of. It generates a whole new train of thought that just may solve a problem I’ve been working on. I also started studying Spanish, I don’t think translators jobs are in jeopardy but thinking in a new language helps me come up with a new perspective. Encourage education for both your employees and yourselfto reap long term benefits.

Point 12 – Pride of Workmanship is Power

Pride of Workmanship is Power

Permit pride of workmanship
Remove the barriers that rob hourly workers, and people in management, of their
right to pride of workmanship. This implies, among other things, abolition of
the annual merit rating (appraisal of performance) and of Management by
Objective. Again, the responsibility of managers, supervisors, foremen must be
changed from sheer numbers to quality.

Dr.W. Edwards Deming

The Never Ending Motivator – Pride of Workmanship

There was a Disney movie about the Jamaican bobsled team, titled “Cool
Runnings”. One of the characters, Junior, lacked self-confidence. He
lacked pride in workmanship. One of his teammates gave him guidance. He had
Junior look into the mirror and see “pride” and “power” and a “crazy [person] that
didn’t take nothing from nobody”. It was a turning point for both Junior and
ultimately the team. Creating that kind of pride in workmanship in employees is
the most effective thing a manager can do.

The manager doesn’t need to stand over the operator or pour through charts to see
if the employee did it right. The manager could go play golf because the person
with pride of workmanship is making the best part possible without supervision.

Instilling Pride of Workmanship

When I worked in pharmaceuticals, pride of workmanship was the first thing we
instilled. We simply asked each employee to ask themselves one question;
“Would you want your loved one to take this particular bottle of medicine?”. If the answer was “no”, we didn’t want to sell it
because someone’s loved one would be taking it.

I’ve had clients say to me, yes but something like medicine is easy to create pride in workmanship but our
product isn’t. Generally, I ask them where is the product used and if it fails
what is the worst that can happen. A plastic disposable cover can be sharp and
cut the user or provide a choking hazard. A component in a car or truck or
school bus can fail and the vehicle could crash.

If you can do a Failure Mode and Effect Analysis, you have a tool for instilling pride of workmanship. If
the IT system fails will a company shutdown and put people out of work? If a
report is sloppy and sends management down a wrong path will the company close?
If a customer service rep is surly and the client goes somewhere else, what is
the long run impact on the company? It is the manager’s job to teach the
employee why they are important to the company and should take pride in
workmanship.

Killing Pride of Workmanship

Unfortunately, killing pride of workmanship is all too easy. Ignore an employee when they warn
you of a problem. Ta-da, pride in workmanship just took a major blow and
“I just keep my head down and my mouth shut and collect my pay”
becomes the attitude of the day. Give the employee bad tools, either machines
needing maintenance or reports filled with bad or missing information and the
result is a loss of pride in workmanship. Set an arbitrary goal the employee
can not possible achieve and you rob them of pride of workmanship. Tell the
employee to do a task, reprimand them if they do it wrong but don’t give them
the tools to measure and know if they did it right or wrong and frustration
will kill pride of workmanship. Killing pride of workmanship is way too easy.

You Matter = Pride in Workmanship

To create and maintain pride in workmanship in your staff, make sure they know
they matter. Listen if they tell you “there is a problem” and don’t
shoot the messenger. If they are wrong take the time to make sure they know why
it isn’t a problem.

Each time a manager helps to grow the understanding of an
employee in job knowledge, the manager creates pride in workmanship. The cost
is small, no big raise, no creative title, just recognition that the employee
makes a difference in the overall performance of the company.

When a manager creates pride in workmanship their employees they create the best sales tool in
the world – consistent high quality product. When an employee knows they are
creating high quality product their pride in workmanship increases and the
company reaps the benefit.

Point 11 – Arbitrary Numerical Targets

 

Is your management review a continuous improvement tool or an arbitrary numerical target?

Management Review – a Continuous Improvement Tool or Generator of Arbitrary Numerical Targets

 

Eliminate arbitrary numerical targets
Eliminate work standards that prescribe quotas for the work force and numerical goals for people in management. Substitute aids and helpful leadership in order to achieve continual improvement of quality and productivity.
Dr. W. Edwards Deming

Doing it Wrong – Management by Arbitrary Numerical Targets

I think the key phrase is “arbitrary numerical targets”. Various companies I
worked for over the years have had management goals and objectives. Sometimes
the managers chose them, sometimes we were guided in them, and at a few it was
just an outright order. At one particular company we had to find either a 10%
increase in productivity or a 10% reduction in costs each year. To the outside
world we were setting our own goals. In reality we were working to arbitrary
numerical targets. The glossy projection sheets and plans appeared to be the
desires of a motivated workforce. We were motivated alright, we either
delivered on the arbitrary numerical target or lost our jobs.
The reason these goals were arbitrary numerical targets was they were identified
using the wrong method. Management did not sit in the management review and
look at the reported performance, and ask the staff to participate in continuous improvement. They looked at how much money they needed to bring in
to be a hero and then told everyone to deliver on arbitrary numerical targets.

Doing it Right – Management by Continuous Improvement not Arbitrary Numerical Targets

There was one company I worked for that did this right. They decided, from the data
in the management review, which was the worst performing press in the plant. It
was one of those bad economic times and no one had money to replace the
machine. Management built a team of operators, mechanics, supervisors and
engineers and turned the machine over to them. They didn’t set an arbitrary
numerical goal, they asked “what would you do to make this run better?”
The team cleaned the machine and then ran an order. Any place there was an oil leak,
they fixed it. They figured out why the leak had occurred in the first place
and where necessary made improvements in replacement parts like bearings and
seals. Once the machine was functioning as designed, they implemented the
Plan-Do-Check-Act process. They analyzed the production on the next order and
tweaked the machine and tooling. They adjusted gages so they were easy to read
and ran another order. By the time they got through, the machine was producing
at 130% of design with a part-time operator. No arbitrary numerical target
would have set the goal this team achieved.

Which Way Are You – Management Review to Eliminate Arbitrary Numerical Targets

A key tool in eliminating arbitrary numerical targets is the management review. If done well, it leads to aiding the improvement of quality and productivity. If done poorly it leads to arbitrary numerical goals. Look at how the process is managed. Are reports put into place to pass the audit or are they a tool to identifying problems and solutions? Who contributes to the reports? Is this a “dog and pony show” or are
employees encouraged to talk openly without fear of losing their jobs? If a
company wishes to create continuous improvement, to stay in business and create
jobs, then the first place they need to look is the management review. So what
does your management review generate; continuous improvement or arbitrary
numerical targets?

Point 7 – Leaders Help Others

 

helping others

 

 

Institute leadership
Adopt and institute leadership aimed at helping people do a better job. The responsibility of managers and supervisors must be changed from sheer numbers to quality. Improvement of quality will automatically improve productivity. Management must ensure that immediate action is taken on reports of inherited defects, maintenance requirements, poor tools, fuzzy operational definitions, and all conditions detrimental to quality.
W.
Edwards Deming

 

Leaders
Help Others Do a Better Job
“Lead, follow or get out of the way” was one of my
father’s favorite sayings. I could call on Dad at any hour for help in physics,
or building, or just about anything other than cars. Dad wouldn’t do things for
me. He did show me tricks and short cuts and rules of analysis that allowed me
to do it myself. This is the essence of what Dr. Deming is talking about when
he says to institute leadership. Real leaders help other do a better job.
Managers are Leaders
and Help Others
As a manager your job is to teach, aid and assist your
employees to be successful and productive. Not to do the job for them. Like Dad
you are there with your door open, always investigation tools that will make it
easier for your employees to do a quality job with high productivity. You must
be available as a resource and then sometimes you must tie a gag on your mouth
and let an employee learn from a mistake. However, a good leader sets up the
employee for success not failure and never plays “I gotcha”
The Benefits of
Leaders who Help Others
If you are good at your job, then your employees will be
also. If your employees are good at their jobs they will be more productive,
and produce good quality work. The company will be more profitable and stay in
business providing jobs. It is so simple, good leaders help others.
Institute leadership

helping others

Point 10 – Walk the Talk

Eliminate Exhortations Unless You are Willing to Listen

Eliminate the use of slogans, posters and exhortations for the work force, demanding Zero Defects and new levels of productivity, without providing methods. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships; the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the system, and thus lie beyond the power of the work force.

Dr. W. Edwards Deming

A Company that Should Eliminate Exhortations

“We have decided to move the factory to Mexico so we have a workforce motivated to produce the quality of product we want. We need people who care about their jobs instead of just collecting a paycheck,” My boss said. With that pronouncement my job and that of a couple of hundred other people’s disappeared.

                I don’t know what happened in Mexico. What I do know is if the tooling made the move, the quality didn’t improve. The real issue came from the design of the tooling. It was a design developed by the owner/president of the company and no amount of information facts, presentations of alternatives would get us approval to change the dies. It was the foundation we were built on, too bad it was shifting sand and not rock. Top management seemed to think slogans were all they needed to improve quality. They needed to eliminate exhortations and listen.

The attitude and efforts of the workforce had little to do with the defect level. The tooling issues and managements approach to problems had a lot to do with the opinion the workforce had of management and their frustrations. Middle managers understood the employees aggrevation, given a choice they would eliminate exhortations and nifty motivational posters and spent the money on things that would have made a difference.

A Company that Did Eliminate Exhortations

Another place I worked started a team campaign at problem solving. They set up a symbol of a triangle with “quality” at the top and “delivery” and “price” at the other corners. The idea if you have good quality, on-time delivery and fair price will follow. They took suggestions from the workforce as to quality issues and shared data analysis of customer complaints. The team members came from across all levels in the company and titles were checked at the door. The results was continuous improvement and increased sales. A side benefit was a motivated workforce. Actions spoke louder than words, they could eliminate the exhortations without a negative impact.

Summary: Eliminate Exhortations that Are Meaningless

The difference in these two companies was top management attitude. One wanted to blame the workforce and would not listen to potential solutions. Their efforts consisted of buying motivational posters when they needed to eliminate exhortations. The other listened and explained their actions. A slogan or nifty poster isn’t going to make an employee produce better work, listening and removing roadblocks communicating why something can’t be done even if it is a good idea will make a difference. Let’s follow Dr. Demings point and eliminate exhortations.

Point 9 – Are You Talking to Me?

Break down barriers

Break down barriers between departments and staff areas. People in different areas, such as Leasing, Maintenance, Administration, must work in teams to tackle problems that may be encountered with products or service.

Dr. W. Edward Deming

If you every want to see a head butting contest, put an experienced tool and die maker with a freshly graduated tooling engineer. If you don’t have a vested interest it can be entertaining. Certainly, I found it significantly enlarged my four letter word vocabulary.

The company faced an unacceptable defect level being generated from the tool. Root cause analysis guide us to a poor understanding, and therefore almost non-existent communication, between engineers and the tool makers. Each vocally attributed the problem to the other.

Our solution, have them trade positions for a day. The engineer got his hands dirty and once he got over being self-conscious actually had some fun running mills, lathes and all the other toys the tool maker used. The tool maker got to try his hand at CAD and got an earful of just how little information the engineer had to work with. Each came away from the project with respect for the other and the freedom to communicate instead of blame.

We started a program having new hire engineers working in the tool room and training toolmakers on the engineer’s toys. Each learned to respect the other. The groups went from snubbing each other in the lunch room to wearing a path in the floor tile between each others’ work stations.

Our next step introduced Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA). We now had people who were willing to work together instead of point fingers. As soon as we armed them with data and invited them to utilize their education and experience our quality made a geometric improvement. Where 3 sigma had been an unrealistic dream, we made the jump to 6 sigma and parts per million defect levels.

This break though came because we broke down barriers, increasing respect and communications. If we had started the FMEA without first developing respect between the participants our success would have been minimal.

Where are the communication barriers in your company?

Point 8 – Drive Out Fear

Encourage effective two way communication and other means to drive out fear throughout the organization so that everybody may work effectively and more productively for the company.

Dr. W. Edwards Deming

The headline read “Confidence Declines to Lowest since February”. The Conference Board’s index fell almost 5 points in a month. Unemployment at 9.6% is at a 26 year high. The CEO Economic Outlook Index declined from 94.6 in June to 86 in September, because there were fewer company executives expecting sales and head count to improve. (See MSN Money News Center)

Anyway you look at it, there is more than enough fear to go around. So what is the impact on employees? In most cases, people “keep their heads down and their mouths’ shut”, not a good thing. Management isn’t told about problems out of fear of more layoffs, which causes a decrease in product quality, productivity, and increases delivery times and costs. That kind of response to fear puts a company out of business.

What is a business owner to do? Dr. Deming said it, “Drive out fear.”

Have a Plan

This is not going to be a fast recovery. What do you need to do, if the economic situation does not improve, for the next 12 months? Look at head count, purchases and expenses. How do you stay in business and provide jobs? What indicators will you track and what do they need to be to get you out of protection mode? Write it down and follow it.

Layoffs

How are layoffs being done? Eating the elephant in small bites has its advantages, but not when it comes to driving out fear. That monthly cut of a few more people month after month, leaves everyone worried that they will be next. People focus on surviving – putting a roof over their family’s head and food on the table. You need them focused on keeping quality at a high level and looking elsewhere for cost cutting measures. Make the cuts deep and quick, and then sit down and discuss, with employees that remain, their jobs are safe, you’ve done all the cuts for your planned period of time, a year, so they can come to work and not wonder if they are next. It means everyone will have to do more with less, but they can at least be sure they are safe. Tell them you don’t want them to be afraid.

Honesty

Tell your employees the truth; there won’t be bonuses, big parties, or new equipment purchases. Reward programs are cancelled for everyone. You are keeping the cash expenditures low to protect their jobs. Ask for their help. Recognize those making suggestions with praise, and where possible, identify what they saved. Keep a running tally board, when it totals the gross annual cost of a single average employee’s wage make a posting, “Because of these people’s suggestions one person’s salary for a year has been saved, thanks to them we all have jobs.”

Tighten Your Belt

I once worked for a company where the owners laid off one third of the workforce, had the managers take a 20% pay cut, and then went out and bought themselves very expensive cars and remodeled their offices. This is an extreme, but often, employees don’t see where management is  also making concessions. It is very normal for frustrated people to look at the “other guy” and feel slighted. Management is a prime target. If you are cutting management perks and/or salaries communicate what you are doing, too. Make a statement such as, “Management chose to give up benefits and salary equal to X number of employees’ salaries.”

New Ideas

Necessity is the mother of invention. Now is the time to look at your products and drive out costs. Focus your designers and engineers to spend a portion of their time looking at existing products. Listen carefully to employees ideas and see if they can be expanded across a line of products.

Increase Sales

Get your sales force out mining existing customers. A salesperson coming through the door with an idea to cut the customer’s costs is going to get time with the purchasing agent. Now is when you build relationships, if your sales force helped in the bad times, the customer will remember it in the good times and be less likely to switch to a competitor. Get your designers focused on lower cost replacement products, particularly for your competitions’ lines. Figure out how you can get the other guy’s business.

Smile and Hang On

Scots kings used to have to eat dinner in front of their subjects. The idea being, if the king ate well, he wasn’t worried. If the king wasn’t worried his subjects didn’t need to be afraid. Your employees are looking at you for their cues. If you come through the door with a scowl and a worried expression, they are going to be afraid and go back to head down, mouth shut mode. Worry cannot add a minute to your life, quite the contrary, it will hurt your health and possibly shorten your life. You’ve made your plan and implemented it, now help your staff with your skill set. If you’re an engineer at heart, throw some ideas out to the designers. If you’re a people person, get your sales staff charged up. Put your energy into creating improvement and you will drive out the fear that would otherwise cripple your company. You’ll come out the other side of this ‘economic downturn’ stronger and positioned for real growth.

Point 6 – Training Now? Are You Crazy?

Institute modern methods of training on the job for all, including management, to make better use of every employee. New skills are required to keep up with changes in materials, methods, product and service design, machinery, techniques, and service.

Dr. W. Edwards Deming

 

A business acquaintance of mine owned a small machine shop back in the ’70’s and 80’s. The last big recession, for those too young to remember.

He had eleven machinists working for him. Business slowed down and the employees knew there wasn’t enough work to keep everyone on board, someone would have to go. My friend called a company meeting. He walked in to some very tense men, each wondering if he was the one who was going to be leaving for good.

Instead of laying a man off, he instituted a program of extensive training and upgrading of skills. Everyday at least one employee was in training on new and better equipment. As his competitors went out of business he bought their newer equipment for a fraction of what it was worth. When the economy picked up my friend was ready, willing and able to produce good quality product at a fraction of the cost of his competition. When other companies tried to pirate his well trained workforce, his employees laughed in their faces. Their boss had stuck with them, they would stick with him.

How did he do it? For one thing he looked at a long term plan. He watched his money and kept a cushion so small hiccups didn’t have a disruptive effect. He had a good solid long term business plan with the track record to demonstrate its’ effectiveness so the banks would lend him money while other companies were being turned down.

Ultimately he fed back into point #1 he had a constancy of purpose to be competitive, stay in business and to provide jobs.

So what about you? Look at some of the grant programs available, you may be able to offer the training at no cost to your company. Even if you don’t have the cash reserves to buy new equipment, or pay roll is tight, ask the employees, would they take a temporary reduction in everyone’s salary to institute a training program that would make them more valuable in the long run? The answer might surprise you.

Point 5 – Improve Every Process

Improve every process

Improve constantly and forever every process for planning, production, and service. Search continually for problems in order to improve every activity in the company, to improve quality and productivity, and thus to constantly decrease costs. Institute innovation and constant improvement of product, service, and process. It is management’s job to work continually on the system (design, incoming materials, maintenance, improvement of machines, supervision, training, retraining).

Dr. W. Edward Deming

Improve constantly and forever, Wow, that is a tall order. Larger companies are able to staff for improvement, but what can the little guy do?

The first step is to prioritize, go for the biggest bang for the investment first. That does mean collecting data. Start with a Cost of Quality report. How much do you scrap? How much do you spend on rework?

When I go into plants to implement ISO9001 I expect to get them certified in system that is indicative of the company culture but I also look for where there is waste and I can reduce costs. I take a visit to the scrap bin and here is the trick, I look for similar parts with similar defects. This tells me there is a system failure. It can come from two places, the design of the part or the method of manufacture. I work backwards from the parts and look to save my client the annualized cost of my contract.

Service providers are a little different. There is no scrap box to look in. What I generally find with them is each employee has a different way of doing each job and there are no written directions or procedures. Each person is sure their way is best. Frequently they have found out about a customer problem and have incorporated a preventive measure in their own method. By listening and applying this information and then training the entire staff, making sure to acknowledge the source and reason for the preventive measure we create a streamline system that addresses all customer issues. We have searched out the problems and created improvement.

Both the manufacturer and the service provider do have customers. Both have complaints that can be used to create real and systematic improvement. Both have the opportunity to call their customers and really listen to what the customer wants and needs. A requirement of ISO 9000 is continuous improvement. The companies that deliver on that element grow.

My bank is ISO 9000 certified. I talked to one manager and he said the certification didn’t mean much to the average customer. What did make a difference was the consistency of accurate and reliable performance, from both new and long time employees. The customers found the bank listened to them and implementing safe new systems that made banking easier at no charge. ISO 9000 had created a system of continuous improvement that kept and drew in new customers. The bank has been able to stay in business, loan money and provide jobs. To quote the good Doctor, “So simple”.