Escaping the Prison of the Prevailing System of Management in the Western World: Observations from a Deming Four-Day Seminar in May 1991, by Craig Anderson, Audit Resolution Specialist at FEMA
The LinkedIn post from a current federal employee reinforces the impact that the contributions of W. Edward Deming continues to have in helping to address the political and economic issues facing America.
As a federal employee, I attended Deming’s four-day in 1988. The question that Deming asked that had the most impact on my life was when he asked: “What percent of your performance is due to the system?” I was an auditor at the time for the Navy and wrote down 98%. (A correct answer can range from 85-100%).
This conclusion led to the realization that in America, “We the People” own the system and are what Deming would refer to as “top management.” This understanding leads to the question: “How do “we” transition from our “prevailing style of management” that supports action by our political representatives that lead to solutions where we all win or at least, are not any worse off?
For private sector organizations, one of the most positive trends for organizations that have embraced the Deming philosophy has been the transition to Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs). Given Deming’s admonition that transformation is everyone’s job, creating more “owners” (top management) along with applying the better methods is a great way of optimizing the performance of the organization.
Federal employees as owners, work in and on the system but must have the support of their fellow owners to bring about the needed improvements. Within the federal government, perhaps a good first step for us is to support policy changes to adopt the better approach for managing and interpreting data along with eliminating individual rankings and performance bonuses for federal employees.