Monday, May 20, 2013

We Want to Engage the Brains of All Employees

"Did Dr. Deming really say what Dan Pink is saying today?"
John Hunter of the Edwards Deming Institute has supported Dan Pink’s findings a recent post. I read this piece with interest – looking for evidence on how Dan’s views are in sync with those of Deming’s. I found little.
Deming and Pink and Kohn and others do not think the purpose of people at work is to be the hands for a brain sitting in New York telling them what to do. Dan Pink did say the carrot approach works for mundane, repetitive tasks without intrinsic motivation.  Dan Pink does not say work falls into that category (that I have seen).

Many people that don't understand Deming or lean don't have respect for people and the importance of engaging people's mind at work. Those people could take Pink's claim that certain tasks can be done better with carrots but I don't think Dan Pink would agree. I know Deming wouldn't and I wouldn't.

Dan Pink is saying nearly exactly what Alfie Kohn was saying in the 1980s and 1990s (Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes).  Both referenced lots of research on the topic and what Alfie was saying is what those adopting Deming's ideas were using to guide their thoughts.

Dan Pink and Deming are on the same wavelength
Deming’s points cannot be taken as separate entities. There is so much overlap and I believe that is by design. Deming’s 7th point talks about instituting leadership. Specifically, “The aim of supervision should be to help people and machines and gadgets to do a better job. Supervision of management is in need of overhaul, as well as supervision of production workers.” To me, this is strong evidence that Deming talks about supporting both the physical and cognitive areas of work.
Related: Two resources, largely untapped in American organizations, are potential information and employee creativity - The greatest waste in America is failure to use the ability of people - Respect for Everyone - Customer Focus by Everyone

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