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?

Democratize the enterprise

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.

Additional information to support the needed transformation

Deming’s PDSA vs Lean PDCA

My LinkedIn reply to a post on Lean’s use of the Plan, Do Study, Act (PDCA) cycle.

Common Mistakes with the PDCA and also its History |Allaboutlean.com .  Overview of the main causes of failures in a PDCA which will cause lean projects to fail. Also, the history…


For a history on the PDCA and comparison of the PDCA to the Deming-based PDSA, I recommend the following article:  Foundation and History of the PDSA Cycle

The PDCA was developed in 1950. Deming improved upon the concept in 1986 and replaced the PDCA with the Plan, Do, Study, Act (PDSA) cycle. “Deming never embraced the PDCA.”

The “So what?”  For advocates of Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI), we need a better strategy for leveraging the various methodologies and tools.

Deming is the only expert that correctly identified that reducing variation from the ideal is THE key to CQI.

Broader description of the variation principle

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.

LinkedIn Post Reply: A New Theory For Transforming Society

A New Theory for Transforming Society by Jim Rough : In 1993 I had a mind-blowing insight about how to transform our society so we could solve many of our most intractable issues. Since that moment I’ve been explaining, experimenting and developing the idea —published a book about it (“Society’s Breakthrough! Releasing Essential Wisdom and Virtue in All the People“);” hosted a TV show; co-founded a non profit organization (The Center for Wise Democracy); convened conferences, gave talks, etc.  Recently on Skype I was getting reacquainted with an old friend, Jim Wanless, and wow. Jim’s questions brought out a whole new way of explaining the idea. (See the informal, edited, 23 minute video.)

Jim – great concept – enjoyed the video. I think an additional component that would enhance the transformation strategy is integrating a more explicit knowledge and application of the variation principle. This principle creates a new standard for Quality Leadership that “We the People” can apply in working towards a more- perfect union.  A summary of the variation principle applied to a “controversial issue” such as abortion is available at the following link.  I think your dynamic facilitation  concept  aligned with the explicit aim to reduce variation would help reinforce a better way of making the types of changes that to improvements that can be sustained.

Resolving Controversial Issues – Abortion Issue:

On major change, the first step in Kotter’s 8 stage process for leading change is to start with a sense of urgency. As you mentioned, a “crisis” can provide the extrinsic motivation to bring about needed change.  However, sustaining a quality approach requires people to be more intrinsically motivated which is supported by the fact that variation either gets better or it gets worse.

Thoughts?  If interested in discussing further, you can also contact me at  tjclark2036@gmail.com.