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Leadership Books
Posted at 10:46 AM ET, 08/16/2012

Reading Gary Fellers’ ‘Why Things Go Wrong’


Title: Why Things Go Wrong : Deming Philosophy in a Dozen Ten-Minute Sessions

Author: Gary Fellers

Publisher: Pelican Publishing, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-1455606016, 127 pages

Dr. W. Edwards Deming was a business professor and consultant who’s probably best known for his role advising post-World War II Japanese companies on manufacturing and quality; many experts give him much of the credit for Japan’s transition to technological preeminence. Beginning in the 1980s and continuing even now, his famous writings, “14 Points for Managers” (a chapter in his book Out of the Crisis) and “7 Deadly Diseases of Management,” and his subsequent books make major corporations like Ford take notice. He spent the latter part of his life writing and consulting on management, quality and productivity.

Consultant Gary Fellers’s tidy little manual moves Deming into today with a readable summary of his management philosophy in 10 handy chapters. While Fellers’s summations are no substitute for Deming’s primary texts, the author provides a practical précis of Deming’s salient philosophical points. getAbstract recommends Fellers’s guide to any manager, experienced or new. You’ll read it again and again, and it handily fits in your pocket.

The debut of deming in the U.S.

In the 1980s, W. Edwards Deming presented a management philosophy contrary to everything American supervisors at that time had learned in business school. His methods embraced employee creativity and teamwork. Deming believed that managers fail when they don’t understand the sources of “variations,” or “things that go wrong.” Variations spring from two roots: either “common causes” over which employees have little control or “local faults” that staff members can identify and fix.

Most corporate problems stem from common causes, so managers can address and resolve them. Company leaders must understand that most business patterns develop over time. Supervisors should never mistake exceptional variations for the norm. They should empower “interdepartmental teams” to identify whether a company’s problems are due to “system problems,” which require long-term solutions, or local faults, which can be resolved by action implemented at the point of customer interaction. Never hold your workers responsible for difficulties over which they have no influence.

“Seven global problems”

Deming enumerated seven “deadly diseases” that managers either suffer from or spread to others:

1. Focusing on today at the expense of tomorrow due to lacking “constancy of purpose.”

2. Making your employees think that short-term results matter most.

3. Using ranked performance appraisal systems “that pit employees against each other.”

4. Promoting the idea of the manager as a god.

5. Looking back at your accomplishments rather than forward toward your goals.

6. Battling constantly rising medical costs.

7. Dealing with excessive litigation.

“14 things To do”

To avoid the seven deadly diseases, Deming counseled managers to use 14 practices:

1. “Create constancy of purpose” bent on improvement to ensure your firm’s future.

2. Teach supervisors to embrace the new management path.

3. “Make after-the-fact inspection unnecessary” by focusing on quality.

4. Use one or only a few suppliers with “quality and service” as your criteria.

5. Measure productivity goals based on better quality and service.

6. Give new employees solid job-based training.

7. Develop an authentic “productive environment” based on quality management.

8. Forbid management based on fear and sycophancy. Build trust and set goals.

9. Dismantle silos. Foster cooperation and collaboration.

10. Don’t post signs and slogans exhorting greater employee effort.

11. Don’t rate your workers’ output by quotas or statistics.

12. Instill “pride of workmanship.” Don’t rank employees by using numerical metrics or performance evaluations.

13. Use education and training to help your workers learn and grow.

14. Involve everyone in fulfilling your company’s mission based on these practices.

Firms that follow Deming’s dictates typically increase their productivity by between 15 percent and 75 percent, with 25 percent as the median rate of increase… 

Click here to read on and receive a free summary of this book courtesy of getAbstract, the world's largest online library of business book summaries. (Available through August 30, 2012.)

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By Patrick Brigger and getAbstract  |  10:46 AM ET, 08/16/2012

 
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