W. Edwards Deming and Politics

The work of W. Edwards Deming was recognized by U.S News and World Report as one of the nine hidden turning points in world history and by FORTUNE Magazine as among the greatest contributions in business history.  

Although Deming’s work was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Economics, his theories have been largely ignored by the major political parties, their representatives, and the voters.

Application of Deming’s theories on macroeconomics provides the “science” that support outcomes where everyone gains or at least, are not any worse off.

On Trade for example, who gains and who loses? For those that are harmed, how effective are mitigation strategies? And, once the Trade policies are implemented, how fast will the needed changes be identified and addressed?

U.S. politics represent a zero-sum game – some win and some lose.  Take healthcare, for example; Republicans use numbers to make the case that the Affordable Care Act is a disaster (lose), and Democrats use the numbers to reinforce the good (win) news.  If the expectation is that change will result in improvement for all, when will the zero-sum approach ever be effective or sustainable?

On a politician that embraces Deming’s work, they would be grabbing the proverbial tail of a hungry tiger.  The tiger represents the expectations of We the People for “more perfect” outcomes.  When you let go of the tiger’s tail, things continue to get worse for everyone.

Quality Leadership feeds the tiger, but you still need to hold on to the tail. 🙂



Police Shootings and Tampering

Responding to an event without an understanding of common and special cause variation leads to tampering which creates the opposite effect from what was intended.

The recent police shootings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota that have led to national protests and motivated the murder of police officers in Dallas, Texas is a case in point.

The immediate perception of the shootings is that blacks are disproportionately the victims of police shootings.  In other words, the conclusion is drawn that the shootings represent “SPECIAL CAUSE” variation when the facts indicate that the incidences represent COMMON CAUSE variation.

The following two articles indicate that blacks are not disproportionately involved in police shootings.  Applying the accepted methods for determining common and special causes will help shift the focus to needed improvements in the system.

Surprising New Evidence Shows Bias in Police Use of Force but Not in Shootings – New York Times

National Bureau of Economic Research: ‘No Racial Differences’ in Officer-Involved Shootings – Breitbart.com

The “So what?”  A common cause indicates predictability, and if you can predict it, you can improve it by addressing the root causes of the problem that will lead to reductions in shootings.

A special cause can indicate a temporary or fleeting event or a shift in the system that something “unusual” may be happening.  In the case of the police shootings, this can incite more violence and lower community support for the police.  This situation can then lead to less policing that results in increased crime.

Ignorance of variation nationally leads to further division and hostility that detracts from the unity needed to improve the system.

Blacks, Whites Disagree Over Whether There’s A War on Police. While police killings are escalating in America, voters are less convinced that there is an actual war on those in blue, although most still blame politicians who are critical of the police for making their jobs more dangerous. But blacks and whites sharply disagree on both questions.

The Way Ahead?  Raise awareness of the better approach and support the type of change that leads to improvement.  As Dr. Deming reinforced, it’s all about reducing variation from the ideal.



FBI Investigation, Variation, System Improvement

The Director of the FBI completed the agency’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email and concluded that her actions represented COMMON CAUSE variation.

In Director Comey’s words: “… one of my employees would not be prosecuted for this,” and he further stated that “They would face consequences …”   (Typically, “consequences” for a federal employee, a member of the military or federal contractor would not be made public and could include revocation of the security clearance, the loss of the job, and being ineligible for a security clearance in the future).

To indict, although Comey concluded that the management of the emails was “extremely reckless,” the FBI did not find the evidence needed to prove an intent to violate the law.

Comey has further stated that it would have been “virtually unprecedented to bring a criminal case against Clinton under current laws” and it would have only been the second case in 100 years.

 Comey: ‘Nobody’ Uses 1917 Law Making Gross Negligence in Handling Classified Material a Crime

Why hasn’t a law that cannot be enforced been changed?  

A poll of voters conducted by Rasmussen concluded that “Most Disagree with Decision Not to Indict Clinton.”

A Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey – taken last night – finds that 37% of Likely U.S. Voters agree with the FBI’s decision. But 54% disagree and believe the FBI should have sought a criminal indictment of Clinton. Ten percent (10%) are undecided.

Could most everyone agree that an ideal outcome would have been a recommendation by the FBI and a decision by the Justice Department that most, if not all citizens would conclude was just, fair and protected national security?

Will the decision by the Justice Department lead to improvements in the system to include changes in the law, or will it be concluded that the “status quo” is good enough?

In America by law, We the People are “top management.” What improvement to the system do “we” need to make to support needed change?