Employee Suggestions: Deming versus Lean

LinkedIn reply to a “re-post” of a 2007 post at leanblog.org on the topic of employee suggestions:

A Different “Lock Box” No, this isn’t about Al Gore and his infamous Social Security ‘lock box.’ This is about suggestion boxes that we sometimes see hanging on[..]

The contributions of W. Edwards Deming provides context for suggestions.  For instance, if you ask employees “What’s not perfect ?” , the suggestion box would always be overflowing.

The follow-up question is asking if the “imperfection” are recurring (common cause variation), or represent a temporary effect (special cause).  The majority of the imperfection will be common cause variation that requires a permanent change in the system.

Deming also accurately estimated that failure to understand variation resulted in a situation where 95% of change results in no improvement.

I’ve seen too many “lean” projects waste resources overreacting to a special cause and too many claiming success from changes that could not be sustained.  Assess your knowledge of variation at the following:  http://successthroughquality.com/uploads/3/4/5/1/34513631/a_quick_assessment_of_your_quali.pdf

The fact that the topic was re-posted from 2007 indicates the need for application of a better methodology. Without a change in strategy, this post  can be re-posted in another 9 years.

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