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.

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