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.

Is it still true that no two snowflakes are the same?


Interesting story in the NYT’s  by Nicholas St. Fleur, titled: Who Ever Said No Two Snowflakes Were Alike?.  At first glance, the article raised the possibility that for the first time in human history, someone found a way to produce two things to be exactly alike.

Kenneth G. Libbrecht, a physicist at the California Institute of Technology, attempted to create identical snowflakes by subtracting nature’s volatility from the equation.  He acknowledges that he could not disprove any laws of physics and reinforced that identical is not precisely identical to the last molecule.

The variation principle is one of those laws of nature that states that no two people or things will ever be exactly alike.

Managing the Refugee Crisis

In his New York Times article, “Will Merkel Pay for Doing the Right Thing?”, Roger Cohen reinforces the fact that leaders lack a Deming-based application framework that can be applied to successfully address the challenging issues.

Dr. Deming remarked that if he was to reduce his message to just a few words, it all had to do with reducing variation. Dr. Deming “implied” a broader description of variation than what he specifically stated in his books Out of the Crisis and The New Economics which focuses more on a statistical frame of reference regarding variation.

Broader description of variation

In applying the broader description of variation, would you conclude that German chancellor Merkel did the right things in order to reduce variation from the ideal?

I agree with Cohen that chancellor Merkel did the right thing but not in the right ways.  Applying the better Deming-based framework would provide all the key stakeholders with a more common language for addressing all aspects of the issue mentioned in the article in the near, mid and long term.

Follow-up –  29 Feb 2016:  Merkel Doubles Down: ‘I Have No Plan B’ On Migrant Crisis

According to Focus, Mrs Merkel said she was convinced she was doing the right thing, despite well over a million people entering Germany last year thanks to her migration policies. She said she was trying to redistribute as many of them as possible to other European countries – through the compulsory migrant quotas system – and claimed to be addressing the problems causing them to enter Europe in the first place.

A community-based process for addressing the refugee crisis applied in Austria: “How do we deal best with the influx of refugees”