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?