Responsibility of Voters in a Democracy

In democracies, voters have the responsibility to determine if things are getting better or worse and to elect leaders that will make a positive difference.

The transformation from the prevailing style of management requires the application of a practical understanding of four components of change that W. Edwards Deming identified as the system of profound knowledge (SoPK) consisting of the following principles: variation, systems, knowledge and psychology.  Another description for the SoPK is common sense that is not so common – yet.

In order to assess if things are getting better or worse, voters must, at least, have a basic understanding of variation that includes a knowledge of common and special causes, two types of systems, and two types of mistakes. (Test Your Knowledge)

Put another way, find or develop a trend chart on an issue of importance such as employment, crime, trade, debt, average hourly income, etc. How many voters to include elected officials, could tell you if the situation is getting better or worse? (Variation principle)

How many would know that the trends indicate an output from a system, that policies identify the aim of the system and that the system determines the majority of the result? (System principle).

Is a Plan-Do-Study-Act (evidence-based) method applied in making legislative changes and to create a basis for learning as to what worked and what did not? (Knowledge principle).

How do elected leaders motivate people to vote? Do they focus on the optimal message that describes results where everyone wins or at least, are not any worse off or is the message more suboptimal and tailored to a specific political ideology? (Psychology)

I would suggest a slight modification to Deming’s 14th point:   Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everybody’s job.

Is it still true that no two snowflakes are the same?


Interesting story in the NYT’s  by Nicholas St. Fleur, titled: Who Ever Said No Two Snowflakes Were Alike?.  At first glance, the article raised the possibility that for the first time in human history, someone found a way to produce two things to be exactly alike.

Kenneth G. Libbrecht, a physicist at the California Institute of Technology, attempted to create identical snowflakes by subtracting nature’s volatility from the equation.  He acknowledges that he could not disprove any laws of physics and reinforced that identical is not precisely identical to the last molecule.

The variation principle is one of those laws of nature that states that no two people or things will ever be exactly alike.

Managing the Refugee Crisis

In his New York Times article, “Will Merkel Pay for Doing the Right Thing?”, Roger Cohen reinforces the fact that leaders lack a Deming-based application framework that can be applied to successfully address the challenging issues.

Dr. Deming remarked that if he was to reduce his message to just a few words, it all had to do with reducing variation. Dr. Deming “implied” a broader description of variation than what he specifically stated in his books Out of the Crisis and The New Economics which focuses more on a statistical frame of reference regarding variation.

Broader description of variation

In applying the broader description of variation, would you conclude that German chancellor Merkel did the right things in order to reduce variation from the ideal?

I agree with Cohen that chancellor Merkel did the right thing but not in the right ways.  Applying the better Deming-based framework would provide all the key stakeholders with a more common language for addressing all aspects of the issue mentioned in the article in the near, mid and long term.

Follow-up –  29 Feb 2016:  Merkel Doubles Down: ‘I Have No Plan B’ On Migrant Crisis

According to Focus, Mrs Merkel said she was convinced she was doing the right thing, despite well over a million people entering Germany last year thanks to her migration policies. She said she was trying to redistribute as many of them as possible to other European countries – through the compulsory migrant quotas system – and claimed to be addressing the problems causing them to enter Europe in the first place.

A community-based process for addressing the refugee crisis applied in Austria: “How do we deal best with the influx of refugees”