Book Review: The Coming Jobs War

Book: Jim Clifton, Chairman, and CEO of Gallup, The Coming Jobs War: What every leader must know about the future of job creation:

  • Definitive leadership strategy for fixing the American economy, drawn from Gallup’s unmatched global polling and written by the company’s chairman.
  • What everyone in the world wants is a good job. “This is one of the most important discoveries Gallup has ever made,” says the company’s Chairman, Jim Clifton.
  • In The Coming Jobs War, Clifton makes the bold assertion that job creation and successful entrepreneurship are the world’s most pressing issues right now, outpacing runaway government spending, environmental degradation and even the threat of global terrorism.

I liked the focus on the importance and impact of creating “good” jobs and that we are in a global competition (war). In addition to surveys, I also liked the fact that he identified a target for GDP growth rate at 5%  to help assess progress:

  • GDP is the sum of all production and spending in one country in one year.
  • America needs 5% GDP growth to maintain it’s leadership of the free world.
  • America goes broke when its GDP falls, and jobs can’t be found. A country goes broke one company at a time and then one city at a time. It grinds down. And it’s happening now.”
  • Less GDP growth also means that the United States won’t have the money to afford its national entitlements – Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid …
  • America’s only real solution — and keep in mind, this is true for every country too — is to expand the size of the GDP pie. That means job growth.
  • Very few Americans are aware that small and medium-sized businesses are responsible for most of the jobs in America.
  • The fact is that the rich tax base depends primarily on companies with fewer that 500 employees and even more so on companies with fewer than 100 employees.

Good Jobs

  • Clearly, having a good job is worth more than a paycheck. If you have a great job — one with unlimited growth opportunity, a manager who is interested in your development, and that gives you a sense of mission and purpose — you have about the best life you can have at this time in human history.  Conversely, being unhappily out of work for six moths – or even more deadly, being out of work for 18 months or more — is about the worst life you can have, anywhere in the world.

Businesses, Corporations, Organizations

  • Gallup has determined that 28% of the American workforce is “engaged,” another 53% is “not engaged” and a staggering “19%” is “actively disengaged.”
  • Customer engagement is the better predictor of sales and growth.
  • American businesses need to have the highest customer engagement scores in the world because when they do, they win the hearts and minds of all U.S. customers. And then, slowly but surely they will win the hearts and minds of all global customers.

W. Edwards Deming made similar assessments to Clifton/Gallup on the importance of customers (the most important part of the production line) and the need for organizations to develop a culture that embraces continuous improvement.

Deming described the improvement cycle as a “chain reaction” —  If you improve quality by doing the right things as defined by customers, costs decrease, productivity improves, increase market share, stay in business and provide jobs and more jobs.

I just came across a recent article on Deming in the Harvard Business Review by Joshua Macht, titled: The Management Thinker We Should Never Have Forgotten.  Macht states that “Toward the end of his life, Deming began to theorize as to why his ideas were never fully embraced. He was 90 when he wrote the following to Peter Senge (who recounted the correspondence in his influential The Fifth Discipline):”

Our prevailing system of management has destroyed our people. People are born with intrinsic motivation, self-respect, dignity, curiosity to learn, joy in learning. The forces of destruction begin with toddlers — a prize for the best Halloween costume, grades in school, gold stars — and on up through the university. On the job, people, teams, and divisions are ranked, reward for the top, punishment for the bottom. Management by objectives, quotas, incentive pay, business plans, put together separately, division by division, cause further loss, unknown and unknowable.

Clifton’s book also identifies quite a few strategies that could be applied at the community level to include the critical role of entrepreneurs, innovators, inventors, tribal leaders, super mentors, and local leaders.  The critical importance of entrepreneurs is that they provide  “successful business models” and that “the business model really is everything.” pg. 84.

In support of creating good jobs, Clifton also identified the importance of needed first steps (pg. 169-177) that include law and order, food and shelter, key institutions, mobility and communication, youth development, job climate, and job enhancement. This includes the needed community infrastructure to support good jobs, e.g., it takes a community.

He states: “The feat these leaders have to pull off is doubling their entrepreneurial energy by aligning all their local forces.”  ”They succeed by declaring all-out war.”  Pg. 65.

Deming did not have a successful business model, but there are Deming based models that I have used with success that may support the needed alignment to double entrepreneurial energy.

The Baldrige criteria for performance excellence is another proven framework that supports continuous improvement.  The Criteria is available for businesses, non-profits to include government, health care, and education.  I expressed my advocacy for application of the criteria for improving the quality of government service in my article “A Government Program That Has Withstood the Test of Time” that was referenced in the Blogrige post:  Would the Founding Fathers Have Embraced Baldrige?

In the 8-Step Process for Leading change, the first step is to “Create a sense of urgency.” A sense of urgency is needed to challenge the acceptance of the status quo. Clifton created a sense of urgency through a “declaration of war”  and reinforcing what the situation will be like if we do not improve and support the changes needed to achieve the 5% GDP rate.  There  would very likely be a correlation between a group’s actions and results with the group’s sense of urgency.

In my community, for instance, the issue of kids hunger motivated a volunteer group to successfully address the issue by providing food that could be taken home in backpacks and supporting more summer food programs to help ensure that no child was without food during the summer break from school.

I think any group can develop a sense of urgency by identifying the adverse impact on people and the community when people lack access to what Abraham Maslow identified in the hierarchy of needs.  Clifton identifies the needs in the “Gallup Path to Global WellBeing” (pg.169).

The aim of the U.S system of government as identified in the preamble to the Constitution was to form a “more perfect union.”

A “more perfect community” would include people working together to reduce imperfections also commonly referred to as continuous improvement.  In the words of Vince Lombardi, perfection is not possible, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.

Clifton reinforces that winning the war on jobs has to be led at the local level.

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A Quality Transformation is Non-Partisan

Reply to a LinkedIn post

Quality transformation: Helping the most of us, Posted on August 8, 2016 by David Schwinn

In this month’s column, David Schwinn comments on Robert Reich’s book, Saving Capitalism, and makes a call to action. Do you agree? Join the conversation!

Part 1 of 2.  I hope this post opens the needed discussion on the differences between a quality transformation and a “transformation” from the perspective of partisan politics.

Robert Reich’s endorsement of Bernie Sanders along with his stated “deepest respect and admiration for Hillary Clinton” is available in one of Reich’s Facebook posts.

I would suggest scanning through Reich’s posts to help assess the degree of respect he has for those that disagree with him but yet would be needed to support and sustain change In the long term.

A recent example of this partisan approach is the Affordable Care Act. An introduction to a better approach derived from the contributions of W. Edward Deming is introduced in my article at FedSmith.com: Working With Idiots and Getting Better Results,

Part 2 of 2   In the context of W. Edwards Deming’s work, philosophy, and guidance on transformation, partisan political solutions represent tampering which makes things worse.

Deming’s NONPARTISAN strategy for transformation has a higher probability of achieving outcomes where we all gain or at least, are not any worse off. Deming’s approach provides “the method” where we can work together in striving towards the optimal, e.g., the “more perfect union” the U.S. Founding Fathers envisioned.

Political parties do identify the polarity on issues and studies of solutions indicate suboptimal results — government policies that benefit the few (“elites”) at the expense of the many.  Ref: Does the government represent the people?  The outcome from this study has led both conservative and liberal media to suggest that the U.S. has “transformed” from a republic into an oligarchy.

A quality transformation will require the application of a new and proven standard for Quality Leadership, e.g., a new leadership paradigm.

Application of the Deming Philosophy in Today’s World

Response on LinkedIn: Deming The W. Edwards Deming Institute +Official Group+

Deming Folks — Is some Evolution in order? (Yes!)

“There are 12 clowns in a circus ring. You jump in the middle and start reciting Shakespeare. To the audience, you’re just the thirteen clown.” (Wolinsky).

How do we stop being perceived as the 13th Clown as the “Survival of the Fittest” Battle against the “Bolt-ons”?

Reply:

Davis, I would expect that you could address “any situation” within the scope of your services – especially the ones dealing with data. Ditto on most if not all consultants that integrate one or more aspects of the Deming philosophy.

Consultants are also constrained by the Deming philosophy and would likely tend to avoid the controversial aspects that might affect a client’s desire to contract for their services. Consultants also compete among themselves to promote their particular perspective and expertise.

On your point on “evolution”, solutions likely need to be stratified. I would think it may be possible for Deming related consultant groups to agree on practices that avoid the appearance of being perceived as the 13th Clown. I would assume this group would include consultants that align Deming with Lean.

Deming earned the position where he was not constrained. He condemned the prevailing style of management in America and stated that transformation (to the better methods) was everyone’s (American citizens) responsibility. In the U.S. by law, We the People own the system – we are top management.

Evolution will also require that Deming’s philosophy be translated into a more common language that can be and will be applied to any aspect of life. For example, the basic concepts of the SoPK are more commonly expressed as Motivation (psychology), Action (systems), Feedback (variation) and Learning (knowledge).

I support the transformation by framing Deming’s contributions as providing a new standard for Quality Leadership. http://wp.me/P7eYCh-j

In avoiding being the 13th Clown, I think any Deming advocate needs to explain what Deming meant when he concluded that “it all had to do with reducing variation.” How was this argument supported in Deming’s books Out of the Crisis and The New Economics?

Applications of Knowledge of Variation?

Response on LinkedIn: Deming The W. Edwards Deming Institute +Official Group+

What are the different ways that a knowledge of variation can help an organisation become or remain competitive? In other words, what are the key areas where applications of such knowledge can make a positive difference?

Interested in diverse applications, and also be specific if you can. Perhaps this can help leaders who have heard of this theory but unsure where it can be used for in their organisation.

Reply:

People have been successfully managing variation since humans have been on the planet. Walter Shewhart developed the NEW paradigm for managing variation. Deming was the first to recognize the significance of the paradigm and illustrated the application in his books Out of the Crisis and The New Economics.

A “knowledge of variation” would include common and special causes, stable and unstable systems and tampering.

ANY success story at ANY time in history can be aligned with what Deming labeled the SoPK. “What’s New” is introducing Shewart’s new terms and concepts in the context of the SoPK.

The “So what?” is the theory that application of the NEW paradigm will result in a 97% increase in performance (ref: TNE, pg. 38) which is easy enough to test.

The challenge may not be in overcoming the lack of knowledge of variation but in overcoming the lack of the desire and commitment in understanding and applying the knowledge.

On the plus side, what an opportunity! It’s like living at a time in history where the accepted paradigm was that the earth was flat. You can take people to the new world, and they may enjoy the visit, but they don’t want to live there.

Conventional wisdom indicates that you need a “crisis” to support a major transformation. Contrary to the subject of Deming’s book that he titled “Out of The Crisis”, I don’t think society has acknowledged a crisis – yet.

Examples: http://successthroughquality.com

An Olympic Tie? Not Possible

The recent tie between Simone Manuel and Penny Oleksiak for Olympic gold in 100m freestyle was the eighth tie in Olympic events since 1928.

Given the variation principle, a tie is never possible. A tie is awarded because of the decision by federations as to what they consider being “close enough.”

Everyone and everything is unique – one of a kind.  We accept that no two people have the same fingerprints or in other words, there are no ties. Each Olympic competition is unique; there are no ties.

Technology’s Touch: How a Photo Finish in the Olympic Pool Gets Resolved.  Inside the timing suite for the Olympic swimming races. How accurate are those touch pads and clocks?

The question becomes that given that a tie is impossible, should a “tie breaker” technology be used to break the tie?

I predict that as progress is made in understanding and managing variation, technology will evolve to the point that science will be applied to eliminate the ties in Olympic events.