Faith-Based Leadership

Addressing the spiritual, economic, and social challenges of our times may be as simple as recognizing that, although we may share a common desire for improvement, we have different ideas on the changes that need to be made to bring about that improvement. But how do you determine when a change results in an improvement?

Faith-inspired philosophies such as Christianity can help answer this question. These philosophies acknowledge that human beings will always be imperfect but can improve by leveraging the potential of the human spirit. Changes motivated by love, compassion, and the application of better methods can result in outcomes where everyone can benefit or at least not be any worse off in the long-term.

Philosophies that also align with the aim of the U.S. Constitution can provide a frame of reference for determining when a change results in an improvement. The aim of the American system of government is to enable “We the People” to work together to make progress — not toward a “perfect” Union, which would be impossible — but rather toward a “more perfect” Union. The U.S. founding fathers provided us with the Bill of Rights so that we may work toward a more perfect or better, Union. What the founders left up to future generations was to develop and apply better methods for determining when a change results in an improvement.

Walter Shewhart discovered one of those methods — the variation principle — in 1924. This principle is rooted in the fact that actions are accomplished through a process and everything involved in a process or system varies, including people. Continuous improvement by reducing variation results in better quality and less imperfection.

Shewhart developed relatively simple ways to assess the variation in processes and systems. He found that variation is the result of either common (usual, expected) causes or special (unusual, unexpected) causes. If all the variation is resulting from common causes, the process or system is predictable, routine, or stable. If the variation is resulting from special causes, the process or system is more unpredictable. The type of variation (common cause or special cause) in a process or system helps identify the type of action needed to improve it.

  1. Edwards Deming, a student and colleague of Shewhart, developed methods that support the application of Shewhart’s variation principle to improve the quality of products and services. Deming’s contributions were recognized by FORTUNE magazine as being among the 20 that have shaped the modern world of business and by U.S. News and World Report as one of nine turning points in history. The top turning point was identified as “The Apostle Paul, whose preaching and eloquent writings led to mass acceptance of Christianity.”

Deming once said that if he was to reduce his message to just a few words, it all had to do with individuals working together to make things more perfect by reducing variation.

I had the opportunity to attend a four-day seminar conducted by Deming in the late 1980’s. Since then, I’ve successfully applied his methods to many areas of my life, including personal, family, community, and career. For example, I had the opportunity to apply them while supporting the development of military and national defense-related strategies.

In 1986, Deming, estimated that it would take another 50 years (2036) before awareness of Shewhart’s contributions were more commonly known. I hope that in some small way I have at least raised awareness of a new method that can be applied to leverage the potential of the human spirit that supports progress toward a more perfect community and Union.

Tim J. Clark is a senior member of the American Society for Quality, past chair of the Indianapolis Section and an exponent of the application of an improved standard for quality leadership that supplements faith-based philosophies with the scientific method.  

 

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Brown County Democrat Newspaper – Guest Columns, Opinions, Letters

GUEST OPINION July 25, 2018. Tim J. Clark. Maple Leaf: Will more money be a recurring theme?  This project was sold as “too good to fail.” Let’s hope that’s true. The public and voters will determine if the decisions and process used to fast-track this project are in the best interests of all county citizens. 

LETTER: June 12, 2018. New Courthouse ProposalLetter: Consider other ways for projects to proceed

LETTER:  May 2, 2018.   Stop digging’ on Maple Leaf Performing Arts Center.  There is wisdom in the metaphor that states that if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.

LETTER: Mar 28, 2018.  Letter to the Editor:  Limit the scope of the proposed septic ordinance.  I participated in the public meetings last year on the proposed septic ordinance. Despite the concerns and recommendations identified at the meetings provided by a diversity of stakeholders, there have been no significant changes to narrow the scope of the proposed ordinance.

GUEST OPINION: Jan 23, 2018.  Working toward ‘a more perfect union’ By Tim Clark, a guest columnist. ”As individuals, we may not have too much direct influence over what happens politically at the national level of government. At the county level, our efforts can certainly be directed to local issues. We can choose to determine the quality of government that we want and need.

In my first guest column on this topic, “The role of process in county’s future,” I identified that the process used to fast-track the Maple Leaf Performing Arts Center (MLPAC) might represent a turning point for the future of the county.

In the follow-up column, “Coming together is a beginning,” I identified possible outcomes from the fast-track process regarding scenarios that included “status quo plus,” “transformative” and “collaborative planning.”

The feedback I received on the columns suggested additional scenarios that included identifying the best case and a worse case. Best case is that MLPAC exceeds all expectations. A worse case is that the venue does not meet expectations, requiring a decision as to the disposition of an underperforming venue.

Best case is that MLPAC exceeds all expectations. A worse case is that the venue does not meet expectations, requiring a decision as to the disposition of an underperforming venue.

 

GUEST OPINION: Jan 11, 2018GUEST OPINION: ‘Coming together is a beginning’ By TIM CLARK, guest columnist. In the first part of my series, “The role of process in county’s future,” I suggested that the process applied to fast-track approval of the $12.5 million investment in the Maple Leaf Performing Arts Center (MLPAC) might represent a turning point for the future of the ...

  1. .Status quo plus. The additional increase in year-round tourism from Big Woods/Hard Truth Hills (destination distillery) and the MLPAC are added to the tourism portfolio with some noticeable impacts on the culture of the county. This will include more events to promote entertainment, craft beer, wine and spirits tourism and additional traffic congestion. An increase in revenue from income and property taxes, the primary source of revenue for the county, might offset the increase in county infrastructure-related costs.
  2. Transformative. The expectations for the MLPAC were identified as leading to an increase in year-round tourism that would result in an economic turnaround, more jobs, hotel(s) and restaurants. These changes could possibly include the transition of Snyder Farm as an extension of Salt Creek Plaza. The requirement to fill a 2,000-seat venue will likely lead to offering any entertainment option and attracting any demographic that will sell tickets and attract visitors. Shops in Nashville could transition to bars or other dining and entertainment options that will encourage visitors to stay longer and spend more money. Other areas along the State Road 46 corridor could transition to tourist-related businesses. A casino might fit into this scenario. Entertainment, craft beer, wine and spirits tourism becomes a major part of the Brown County “brand.” The cumulative effect of the changes may lead to Brown County being considered a nice place to visit but not to live.
  3. Collaborative planning. Community conversations can help identify the best acceptable alternatives for tourism, community and economic development options. To quote Henry Ford, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” Conversations can lead to strategies, strategies to plans, and good plans lead to results where everyone benefits — or at least accepts that a given initiative is beneficial overall. The collaborative approach can lead to the county being recognized as a “community of excellence,” which attracts more residents, businesses and families. An increase in families helps mitigate the decline in school enrollments and prevents school closures and consolidations.

GUEST OPINION: Dec 27, 2017. GUEST OPINION: The role of process in the future of Brown County. The Maple Leaf Performing Arts Center (MLPAC) project and the process used to fast-track approval may represent a turning point for the future of the county.  

GUEST COLUMN: Sep 20, 2017.  Guest Column: A study of tourism and economic sustainability.  By Tim Clark, “However, tourism, by itself, has not and cannot provide a sustainable economic future for Brown County. Further, too much tourism can have …”

Note: The proponents of the Maple Leaf project claimed that Maple Leaf “….  could be what it takes to turn things around economically for Brown County.”  This article was written to offer another perspective.  The county is funded primarily by income and property tax.  

GUEST OPINION: August 29, 2017.  Guest Opinion: Maple Leaf: What are the other options?  By Tim Clark guest columnistThe Maple Leaf in a different location (Gnaw Bone? Bean Blossom? Ski World?) could be an “anchor” facility that could support further …”

LETTER: August 22, 2017.  Letter: ‘Zoning for Maple Leaf: Not in the plan’ – Brown County Democrat, Tim Clark  “Although the proposed Maple Leaf Performing Arts Center has not been formally approved by the commissioners …”  

LETTER: Aug 8, 2017. Letter: Maple Leaf proposal: Let’s not fail to plan By Tim Clark. For those where planning may be an abhorrent concept, Benjamin Franklin is credited with the axiom that: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”

Repeal the Second Amendment?

 

Following is a summary of a discussion on LinkedIn discussing the NYT Op-ed submitted by retired Supreme Court Justice Stevens: John Paul Stevens: Repeal the Second Amendment , March 27, 2018.

Does the discussion reinforce the need for a new approach to help resolve controversial issues?

The debate focuses on the “meaning” and interpretation of the second amendment from a legal perspective.  A different approach is looking at the issue not from an original meaning but from the original intent.

The aim of the design of the U.S. political system was to form “a more perfect” union (original intent). Working towards this aim from a Deming perspective would equate to taking action that results in a situation where everyone gains, or at least, are not any worse off in the long-term.

The challenge becomes to identify the feedback people need to assess if a change makes things better or worse.  Deming suggests looking at things from four perspectives: Psychology (motivation), Systems (action) Variation (feedback), and Knowledge (learning).

Psychology is the study of human behavior and what motivated it.  For many, guns in America are an integral part of our history, culture, identity, strength, sense of security, and freedom. Guns are also a symbol.  Many of the comments on the post reflect this perspective.

There is also the philosophic perspective regarding the nature of man – all humans have the capability of being good and evil which reinforces an individual’s desire for self-defense and self-reliance.   And further, some have more confidence in government’s ability to protect them than do others.  For many, the 2nd amendment is an insurance policy – you may never need it, but nice to have – just in case.

A System includes laws and interpretation of the laws.  I can’t add much to the current debate on the 2nd amendment.  I think both sides have goods arguments. Unfortunately, the debate will be never ending depending on who has the most votes at the time. Conservative will vote one way and liberals the other, e.g., zero-sum that indicates a stable (predictable) system.

Variation is the gap between the ideal situation (more perfect) and actual. From an “originalist” position, repealing the 2nd Amendment is tampering – which makes things worse.  From a “living document” perspective, repeal is an improvement.

The variation principle also provides a new standard that can be applied for assessing the efficacy of gun control laws.  It also provides a new perspective on looking at all the factors that contribute to unnatural deaths from crime, accidents, disease, addictions, war, et.al.  What are the trends?  What are the priorities for improvement? What is working? What is not?

Knowledge. What are we learning?   The responses to the post identify individual views and passion on the topic.  In regard to repeal, whoever has the most votes will “win.”  Even if the votes are there to repeal, many will not accept any ruling that conflicts with their belief that they have right to keep and bear arms.  The U.S. is not Australia where the population volunteered to turn in their guns.

A way-ahead?   Start with the variation principle. Get agreement on the methodology and data e.g., the facts regarding deaths due to the misuse of guns. To provide context, I would also include comparisons with other deaths by other causes. Any successful long-term solution will need to acknowledge and address the cultural aspects (psychology) that are an inherent part of the 2nd  amendment.

Assess your knowledge of the variation principle.

More Info:

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Most Americans believe the management world is flat. Do you?

Imagine you lived at a time in history when it was an accepted belief that the earth was flat. Now imagine you started hearing the claims that the earth was round – that new continents were discovered. Would you have cared, or would you have wanted to learn more?”

“Men occasionally stumble over the truth but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened.”—Winston Churchill

In 1924, Dr. Walther Shewart discovered a new paradigm for managing variation. Variation is a law of nature that states that no two things or people will ever be ever exactly alike – everything varies.

W. Edwards Deming was a student and colleague of Dr. Shewhart.  Deming’s contributions in developing the paradigm were recognized by U.S. News and World Report as one of the nine turning points in world history and by Fortune Magazine as among the greatest contributions to business history.

Deming concluded that failure to understand the variation paradigm resulted in a situation where ninety-five percent of changes made by management today result in no improvement. We are all managers in one role or another.

Deming further concluded that prevailing style of management resulted in devasting consequences on our economy and ability in working together in pursuit of a more perfect union.

What is the world’s most underdeveloped nation?With the storehouse of skills and knowledge contained in its millions of unemployed, and with the even more appalling underuse, misuse, and abuse of skills and knowledge in the army of employed people in all ranks in all industries, the United States may be today the most underdeveloped nation in the world.”   W. Edwards Deming

Assess your knowledge of  the variation paradigm

A way ahead?  To develop your knowledge of the variation, start with a developing and interpreting a trend chart.

Indiana High School Graduation Rates

QUESTION: Since 2010-11, have any of the increases and decreases in the graduation rate been significant or do they indicate that the system is producing results within a normal range?

Pre-Test: Assess your knowledge of variability

Indiana’s high school graduation rate slipped last year, Indianapolis Star, USA TODAY NETWORK, Jan 12, 2018

Indiana’s high school graduation rate slipped in 2017, falling nearly two points from the previous year and dropping to its lowest point in the past six years.

The decline was the largest single-year drop in the past 11 years, the time span in which state data was immediately available.

Trend Chart

Data:

  • 2010-11: 87.1
  • 2011-12: 88.7
  • 2012-13: 88.6
  • 2013-14: : 89.8
  • 2014-15: 88.9
  • 2015-16: 89.1
  • 2016-17: 87.2

Reference: (Source of Data:   School and Corporation Data Reports

More Information: Institute for Healthcare Improvement:

Maple Leaf: What are the other options?

I serve on the County Redevelopment Commission (RDC).  The following is a copy of a Letter to the Editor of the Brown County Democrat. The purpose of the letter was to reinforce the need for a collaborative approach when considering development projects that can have long-term impacts on the community.

Maple Leaf: What are the other options?

 The explanation for the funding for the proposed Maple Leaf Performing Arts Center (MLPAC) has identified that “tourists will pay for it through the innkeeper’s tax.”  It has also been stated that building the venue will require borrowing at least 10.2 million dollars and issuing a bond.  Although the strategy is to make the bond payments from the innkeeper’s tax, if the revenue from the venue is not sufficient to cover the payments, the responsibility to meet the bond requirements falls on the county taxpayers.

The project is also being marketed as a “too good to fail.”  If this is true, then take some time to market the venue to private developers who can raise capital to fund the venture.

Maple Leaf in a different location (Gnaw Bone? Bean Blossom? Ski World?) could be an “anchor” facility that could support further residential and commercial development in the respective area that would be compatible with the comprehensive plan. This could include more housing that attracts businesses that can serve both the residential and tourist market.

A different location might also have the highest likelihood of resulting in positive trends in all the County’s Community Vitality Indicators (CVIs). CVIs include assessed value, per capita income, population growth, school enrollment, and educational attainment rate. A government owned venue does not generate property tax.

Establishment of the innkeeper’s tax required State government to pass a law – IC-6-9-14 Brown County Innkeepers Tax. The statute requires “county government” to provide the management and oversight of the revenue and to establish a five (5) member convention and visitors commission (CVC).  The law states that the purpose of the commission is: “to promote the development and growth of conventions and visitation in the county.”  CVC members are appointed by the Commissioners and Council.

Wikipedia identifies an extensive list of tourism related categories that would “promote the development and growth of visitation in the county” that includes: Cultural, Historical, Preservation, Education, Athletics, Arts, Agricultural, and Wellness/Fitness to name a few.

In regards to the statute, CVC member Barry Herring has remarked: “I think it’s primarily supposed to promote heads in beds. It’s supposed to promote overnight stays because it’s an innkeepers tax, that’s generated by innkeepers.”  

The statute does not restrict tourist related options to those that may result in hotel stays. In fact, any of the options could result in overnight stays.

In reply to a question about the possible competition from the Opry, Herring replied: “We’re looking at it like a Branson (Missouri) scenario. We think the more, the better.”  Note that Branson has been referred to as “the music capital of the entire universe” and includes numerous theatres built by nationally recognized entertainers. Gatlinburg has Dolly Parton.

The fact that Mr. Herring as the new owner of the Brown County Inn who is also a new member of the CVC had an epiphany regarding the options for investing revenue from the innkeeper’s tax should indicate that other investment opportunities may have been missed over the years.

The Comprehensive Plan is also mandated by law (Title 36, Article 7, Planning and Development). The Plan Commission is the body responsible for maintaining a comprehensive plan, which is required to be developed and maintained (IC 36-7-4-501) if the community wishes to exercise the power of zoning. The plan is the foundation for assessing whether new ideas fit into the strategy that citizens will support.

The Plan must be updated to include a tourism strategy that identifies the categories of tourism that taxpayers may want to support with revenue from the innkeeper’s tax.  It is up to all the county citizens to decide how the revenue from the innkeeper’s tax can best be invested.

In addition to the plan, procedures also need to be developed by the plan commission and shared with the public that identifies the process that will be used by members to assess the benefits of a project against the criteria identified in the plan. This change can help assure the community that the plan commission performed their due diligence before providing a recommendation.

At the Area Plan Commission (APC) meeting on August 22, Bruce Gould presented the request for the required zoning change for MLPAC. Citizens had up to three minutes to communicate their support or lack of support for the project. Mr. Gould had the opportunity to provide a rebuttal. APC member Paul Navarro suggested that the county first conduct a traffic analysis and effects study before voting on the recommendation. The APC with few questions and little to no discussion among the members quickly voted to recommend approval. Paul Navarro was the only dissenting vote.

MLPAC proponents emphasized the possible benefits to the Town of Nashville and the tourism industry but did not provide a convincing argument as to why this was the best option for the county. The next step in the process requires the commissioners to listen to input from the citizens and to consider the APC ‘s recommendation for the zoning change.

I am a fifth-generation Hoosier who has enjoyed hiking, camping, biking and vacationing with my family in Brown County for over 50 years. My wife and I bought property here over 18 years ago with the intent of retiring here full-time, which we did in 2014. The current comprehensive plan identifies the vision for Brown County that I support, but it could be more specific in order to clearly identify what Brown Countians want and do not want regarding change and new development.

 Tim Clark
Brown County

Disclaimer:  The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any commission or board.    

New Book: The Symphony of Profound Knowledge

New Book: The Symphony of Profound Knowledge

Just ordered the book – The Symphony of Profound Knowledge, through Amazon. The book was developed by a Deming colleague in partnership with Aileron.

I’ve read and studied dozens of books written by individuals that worked with Deming.  I have yet to read one where the authors attempted to identify the paradigm that led to Deming’s  insights and contributions.

The most impressive comment that I heard first hand from a well known and respected student and colleague of Deming was that he never quite understood Deming’s concept for the system of profound knowledge.  Rare for someone as accomplished as he is to admit what he did not know.

It  will be interesting to read how and if the author – Ed Baker, offers and explanation of why Deming concluded that improvement is all about reducing variation.