New Administration: Real Improvement This Time?

Throughout my federal career, I had the opportunity to work with and support many presidentially inspired “change initiatives,” with the expectation that change would result in what citizens would conclude is an improvement.

The past initiatives include zero-based budgeting, quality circles, total quality management, Federal Managers Financial Integrity Act (FMFIA), Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence, Corporate Information Management, Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA), business process reengineering, reinventing government, Six Sigma, and Lean.

Many of these programs have faded away. The initiatives supported by law (such as GPRA and FMFIA) are still on the books, but they certainly have not achieved their aims. Only the Baldrige program has successfully stayed the course since its inception in 1987.

I’m guardedly optimistic that government reform and improvement under the Trump Administration may have more success in bringing about and sustaining needed improvement.

Newt Gingrich and the Trump Administration

In the 2016 U.S. presidential election, voters voiced their demand for change. Veteran pollster and political strategist Patrick Caddell noted that this race represents another American revolution.

Trump supporters demand revolutionary change. Trump opponents are awaiting evidence that the new administration can make changes in one area without making things worse in others.

Success in achieving real improvement in a political climate that has been described as divisive and polarizing requires new approaches. Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the U.S. House and advisor to President-elect Donald Trump, might be able to provide them.

When Gingrich was asked about a possible new role in the Trump administration, he remarked that he saw himself as more of a waste, fraud and abuse czar. In The Hill, Gingrich commented:

“I said I want to be the senior planner for the entire federal government, and I want a letter from you that says Newt Gingrich is authorized to go to any program in any department, examine it and report directly to the president.” 

In a follow-up question on the involvement of Gingrich, President-elect Trump stated that “Gingrich is going to be involved in our government.” However, The Washington Post reported that Gingrich intends to focus on “strategic planning” rather than run a federal department. Gingrich remarked:

I want to be free to network across the whole system and look at what we have to do to succeed.”

During his run for president in 2012, Gingrich signed a pledge to adopt Lean Six Sigma in government if elected. By signing the pledge, he promised to:

“eliminate spending deficits and start paying down the national debt by 2017 by deploying Lean Six Sigma waste reduction methods to detect and eliminate 25 percent of spending per year across the federal government.”

As I mentioned in a previous article at FedSmith.com, “Individual and System Performance – Pass or Fail?”, Lean Six Sigma methods and tools can improve efficiency. However, they are not sufficient to bring about the federal-level changes that are needed to positively impact the entire nation. A new quality paradigm is needed.

The New Quality Paradigm

From 1991-1993, Gingrich was a student of the world-renowned quality expert W. Edwards Deming. Deming’s contributions 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 in business history. Dr. Deming was also nominated for a Nobel Prize in Economics.

Gingrich met with Deming for about 60 hours over a three-year period to learn how Deming’s principles could be applied to support a quality transformation in America. Gingrich integrated what he learned from Deming in the sixth class (“Pillar Five, Quality as Defined by Deming”) of a 10-session college course titled “Renewing American Civilization.”

Excerpts from that college course have been compiled into the book Readings in Renewing American Civilization (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1993). On page 107, Gingrich defines “The New Quality Paradigm” as follows:

“What Deming offers is the beginning of a new paradigm and a framework for management within it.

His aim is to improve the quality of life and economic situation of all. Some may quibble with the aim, but there are no viable alternatives. Because of interdependencies, everyone will eventually lose unless all can win.

Furthermore, ensuring that everyone wins is not a matter of taking from the rich to give to the poor, i.e., redistributing the outcomes of the process. Rather, it is of working on today’s process so that everyone can get better results tomorrow.

The job is to improve the ability of each and every individual and organization to create value for themselves and for the society that nurtures them.”

New Standard for Quality Leadership

Successful application of “The New Quality Paradigm” requires the application of a new standard for quality leadership derived from the contributions of Walter A. Shewhart and W. Edwards Deming.

Deming concluded that working to achieve optimal levels of performance is all about reducing variation from the ideal. Deming also reinforced that the failure to understand variation results in situations where the majority of not all in some cases, of changes, result in no improvement. This observation was certainly validated by my experiences with change within the government.

During the final years of my career (2011-2014), I wrote a series of articles in FedSmith.com on the need for change and how better methods could be applied to improve the efficiencies and effectiveness of the political system and the administration of its policies, laws, and regulations.

A Way Ahead

The U.S. political system was designed to be continually improved through changes that result in “a more perfect union.” As Gingrich so eloquently expressed, a new paradigm is needed to achieve the types of results where everyone gains or is, at least, not any worse off. This requires the application of a new standard of quality leadership. Leading this transformation in a political climate that is divisive and polarizing has to be considered one of the ultimate challenges—but it is a challenge that the American people will expect to be met.

The mid-term elections in 2018 will provide citizens with the opportunity to provide feedback on the direction and to determine if they are any better off in 2018 than they were in 2016.

Crossover to Quality Leadership

In music or art, a crossover artist is an individual that is successful in a “genre other than the one in which they achieved their initial success.”

Two articles in the American Society for Quality’s (ASQ) November 2016 issue of Quality Progress (QP) reinforce the opportunity to recognize the need for greater crossover from the non-science and business management disciplines. This crossover can be supported by embracing the broader concepts and strategies needed to support ASQ’s vision of being the global voice of quality.

In their excellent article, Understanding Variation, Nolan, Perla and Provost reinforce the need for the understanding of variation from a statistical frame of reference that is of benefit to almost everyone.  The article also  includes the quote from W. Edwards Deming that “Another half-century may pass before the full spectrum of Dr. Shewhart’s contributions has been revealed in liberal education, science, and industry.

“A liberal education is a system or course of education suitable for the cultivation of a free (Latin: liber) human being. It is based on the medieval concept of the liberal arts or, more commonly now, the liberalism of the Age of Enlightenment.” (Wikipedia).

In addition to the sciences, liberal arts can also be defined as including …  philosophy, history, literature, music, art, and other so-called “humanities.”  (greatideas.org)

In the same issue of QP, the article by QP Staff “Fresh Faces: A new generation of quality leaders,” reinforces the underrepresentation of the “humanities” in academic disciplines and career pursuits.

I’m an exponent of a “”New Standard for Quality Leadership” that is derived from the contributions of Walter Shewhart and W. Edwards Deming.  This new standard and supporting paradigm requires the application of a broader understanding of variation. The more comprehensive description – “What is the law of variation?”  is available on ASQs website.

The so what?  The current state of quality represents the modern day equivalent of the belief that the earth is flat.

The better paradigm can be immediately applied to improve quality in any aspect of life and at any level.  Evidence of the shift to the new paradigm will include outcomes that can only be brought about when  …” the full spectrum of Dr. Shewhart’s contributions has been revealed in liberal education, science, and industry.

 

How the Baldrige Framework Is Helping Rural U.S. Communities

How the Baldrige Framework Is Helping Rural U.S. Communities
Posted on September 6, 2016, by Christine Schaefer 

In preparing to share here how the Baldrige Excellence Framework is being used to support community vitality in a rural region of Missouri, I’ve been thinking of how quintessentially American the Communities of Excellence 2026 (COE 2026) initiative is. In particular, it strikes me that what’s happening in northwest Missouri exemplifies an idealistic, innovation-minded spirit that has been present in American communities for centuries—likely reenergized by the continual infusion of immigrants seeking a better life than what they experienced in their countries of origin. Consider the prescient words of John Winthrop, the 17th-century founder of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, to his Pilgrim community: “We must consider that we shall be a City upon a Hill, the eyes of all people upon us.”

Draft framework customized for application within a Community

Update on Communities of Excellence 2026 
Posted on March 31, 2016, by Christine Schaefer

What’s the latest on the initiative launched last year to create “an archipelago” of high-performing communities in the United States using a framework based on the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence? I recently asked Stephanie Norling, managing director of Communities of Excellence 2026, for an update.

 

Quality Leadership and the U.S. Constitution

Preserving the ‘genius’ of the Constitution  by David Keene – The Washington Times – Monday, September 12, 2016

The success of the American Republic is directly traceable to the wisdom and work of the 55 men who gathered in Philadelphia in 1787 to draft a constitution designed not so much to empower government, but to limit that power. Forrest McDonald,...

The U.S. Constitution was designed on four components of change that the world-renowned quality expert W. Edwards Deming labeled as a System of Profound Knowledge (SoPK).

These components include an understanding of the human behavior that influences motivation (psychology), action (systems), feedback (variation) and learning (knowledge).

The Constitution identifies “top management” as the citizenry and assigns “We the People” the responsibility to work towards the ideal of a “more perfect union.”

Quality Leadership is all about reducing variation from the ideal.  

Median Trend Chart and Interpretation

Trend Chart – A line graph of data plotted over time

  • Generally, 25 data points are needed to get meaningful results
  • Plot the values on the chart and connect the dots.
  • Calculate the median and place this on the chart. The median is the value separating the higher half of a data from the lower half.
  • In the data set {1, 3, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9}, the median is 6
  • In the data set (1,2,3,4,5,6, 8,9) the median is 4+5 / 2 = 4.5

Interpretation *

  • 5 Points in a row rising or falling indicates a change in the process
  • 6 Points in a row above or below the median also indicates a change
  • Points (outliers) that appear farther away from the median than others may indicate either a change or a temporary or unusual event
  • Also look for nonrandom patterns – too close or too far from the median, or cycles. The people closest to the process may be able to provide an explanation of the behavior

* Acceptable standards range anywhere from 5-8 data points. Can also just use 7.

More Info:

Run Chart: Creation, Analysis, & Rules

Right number or Right Action?

The slow adaption of innovations

When You Change the World and No One Notices, By Morgan Housel

It takes 30 years for a new idea to seep into the culture. Technology does not drive change. It is our collective response to the options and opportunities presented by technology that drives change

A good idea may take 30 years to seep into the culture. A truly great idea may take a little longer.  

Walter Shewhart developed a new paradigm for managing variation in 1924. In 1986, Dr. W. Edwards Deming stated it would be another 50 years (2036) before the full spectrum of Dr. Shewhart’s contributions has been revealed in liberal education, science, and industry.  

Deming’s contributions in applying Shewhart’s paradigm for reducing variation from the ideal 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. Dr. Deming was also nominated for a Nobel Prize in Economics.

Eliminating Grades in School – But Not Feedback

LinkedIn Post:

Why We Should Stop Grading Students on a Curve, by Adam Grant, NYTs, Sept 10, 2016

After analyzing grading systems, the economists Pradeep Dubey and John Geanakoplos concluded that a forced grade curve is a disincentive to study. “Absolute grading is better than grading on a curve …

In 1924, Walter Shewhart developed the statistical methods that reinforce why ALL grading of students should be stopped.  Shewhart’s methods were classified during WWII and although declassified after the war and accepted internationally, the understanding of the concept that supports the methods is relatively rare.

The “So What?” A belief that the traditional use of grades adds value is the modern day equivalent of believing that the earth is flat. If you want to discover “the new continents,” adopt the better methods that support continual improvement and learning.