Wednesday, May 13, 2015

What is a Lean Program, Deming Program?

Thoughts in response to: Dr. Deming’s Last Interview & Jack Welch’s Thoughts on Him by Mark Graban.

Deming sure provided some great quotes in that interview; those you listed above and more (in fact I posted about one this week in To Achieve Success Focus on Improving the System Not On Individual Performance). From Mark's post:

I’m not sure what 'a Deming program' is anymore than I know what 'a Lean program' is sometimes.

This is so true. Basically organizations can be making good progress but essentially none that *have* a Deming or lean program. Toyota is sensible to consider the closest - I mean lean after all originally was just documenting Toyota and calling it lean instead of Toyota management or whatever. But Toyota does plenty of things that are not what even Toyota says how things should be done.

And beyond that lean has evolved away, IMO, from just being able to say anything Toyota does is by definition lean. Lean and Deming are more about a philosophy of managing - continual improvement, respect for people, etc. than prescriptions. So you can't really have a checklist and say that if your org can check off all these things they are lean or Deming.

The fact that the management systems can't be reduced to a checklist is a necessary given the long lasting power they offer. When you reduce the ideas for management that far (so you have a checklist of exactly what to do) you get a stupid system that can't be used for managing large systems of people. Organizations doing the best job of being worth of claims of being true to the management systems are likely to have the widest understanding of all the ways in which they are failing to live up to that vision.

I continue to think Toyota is doing a very good job. But they also have plenty of room to improve. And they continue to be tempted by becoming more like other companies instead of recommitting to the principles of lean and Deming.

Related: Rethinking or Moving Beyond Deming Often Just Means Applying More of What Dr. Deming Actually Said - Long Term Thinking with Respect for People - Deming and Software Development

No comments: