Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Deming’s 14 Points for Top Management

By Al Norval and Pascal Dennis

Over the Holidays’, I was doing some catch-up reading and went back to some of the basics of Lean. Dr. Deming, the legendary quality guru from the latter half of the 20th century is still as relevant today as he was when he was 20, 30 or 50 years ago. I was struck by how simple yet deep his 14 Points for Management are. Take the first one for example – “Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service, with aim to become competitive and stay in business and to provide jobs”.

He’s captured the essence of Strategy Deployment or Hoshin Kanri. The role of management is to set a True North, figure out what’s preventing you from delivering it and then align the organization to work towards executing strategies that will deliver it. True North can be defined as a “who and what you want to be as a company” in 3-5 years. It encompasses both the hard business goals that shareholders and financial types like but also the essence of what the company values. We can then test – are we delivering the business objectives we have and more importantly are we achieving them in a way that is consistent with our organizational values so that as we work towards our goals, we aren’t decimating the company and making foolish short term decisions that are inconsistent with our long term True North.

It’s difficult to engage our people in achieving our business objectives if we change True North and our strategic direction every year as we develop a new annual plan. People get confused and give up. Constancy of purpose gives us at stability over time that is very engaging for our people. It doesn’t mean we don’t change ever but we do so slowly and in a controlled manner.

So we focus our people on solving problems to help us achieve our True North and in doing so become competitive, stay in business, and provide jobs for our people just as in Dr. Deming’s first point.

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