The 14 Point Deming Management Method

This post is a continuation of my second guest post for Adelaide Universities MBA Blog. If you haven’t read my summary of the Deming Management Method, start here first.

Deming’s Fourteen Point Management Method

Deming’s 14 Point Management Method was first published in 1982. A statistician by trade his ability with numbers enabled him to challenge many traditional management practices, resulting in his fourteen point plan:

1. Create Consistency of Purpose for the Improvement of Product and Service

Deming and others, such as (Stephen R Covey) believe that one of the difficulties facing humankind is that we are too easily focused on the problems of today, at the expense of those of tomorrow.

“It is easy to stay bound up in the tangled knots of the problems of today, becoming ever more and more efficient in them” – Deming Continue reading

Motivational Slogans in the workplace – Deming v Zuckerberg

One of Deming’s pet hates was motivational slogans in the workplace – things like “Do it right first time”, and “Zero defects”. Two from the IT world that come to mind are “Real Engineers Ship” (Steve Jobs), and “Stay focused and keep shipping” (Mark Zuckerberg, see article here, which has an interesting photo of his desk).

Jobs and Zuckerberg make pretty powerful examples of sloganeering. I find it interesting that Deming was so against slogans, they’re everywhere. So let’s dive a little deeper.

Deming stated that slogans should eliminated because they do nothing but “generate frustration and resentment” in the workforce.

“Implicit in such sloganeering is the supposition that employees could, if they tried do better. They are offended, not inspired by this suggestion”   – Deming Continue reading

Alfie Kohn Why Incentive Plans Cannot Work

In 1993 Alfie Kohn wrote an article titled ‘Why Incentive Plans Cannot Work’. For the time it was a radical piece critisising any attempts of increasing employee productivity via incentive plans. Even now, it is still more on the radical side of management and leadership theory.

Kohn said that “rewards typically undermine the very processes they are intended to enhance” and that they secured, at best, only temporary compliance.

Before getting further into Kohn’s reasoning, it’s worth hitting pause to revisit some motivational basics. Firstly, motivation is classified into two types, intrinsic motivation and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation comes from the self, whereas extrinsic motivation is supplied externally, usually by the manager. There is a large amount of research that shows that the highest performing people are intrinsically motivated. Extrinsic motivation is a form of behaviour modification, whereby a manager will use techniques to motivate the individual to do something that they would otherwise not want to do. It may be that the employee theoretically wants to do the work, but in practice they’d rather take it slower or more relaxed than you’d like. Continue reading

Complex Systems and Change Management – Guest Post

Complex Systems and Change Management – A guest post by Philip Southwell

I used to think that I could drive change like Michael Schumacher used to drive a Ferrari. If I drove with consummate skill I would take the corners smoothly, overtake competitors and win the drivers’ championship. How wrong was I.

This approach led to frustration. Why wouldn’t people do what I wanted? Why couldn’t people see that the change I was advocating would further the aims of the organisation?

My frustration came because I didn’t realise one simple fact: Continue reading

Dancing with Systems – Donella Meadows

The late Donella Meadows wrote an interesting article titled ‘Dancing with Systems’ that provides a fourteen recommendations on how to approach the change of complex systems.

Newtonian thinking says by breaking down a system into smaller parts, and then understanding them, we will understand the system as a whole. Thinking about it in this way assumes that the system is certain, predictable, obeys known rules and laws, and has linear causation.

The problem is however, that most systems we deal with as managers do not meet these assumptions. Some examples are the workplace culture, company performance, or even an individual’s performance. All are complex systems that cannot be controlled by Newtonian thinking. Our toolkit to understand and deal with this needs another approach.

This is where complex systems theory can help. Complex systems are said to contain uncertainty, unpredictability, non-linear causation and emergent behaviour.

The core idea being that complex systems cannot be properly understood in the Newtonian way we are so used to thinking in. This is where ‘Dancing with Systems’ comes in.

Meadows states that “We exaggerate our own ability to change the world”, and that “the idea of making a complex system do just what you want it to do can be achieved only temporarily, at best”.

You can’t understand, predict and control a complex system.

Continue reading

Victor Vroom Expectancy Theory

In 1964 Victor Vroom developed his Expectancy Theory to explain observations on the motivations behind decision making. It has become one of the most dominate motivational theories in use today, and can be used to explain common workplace strategies such as performance reviews and financial incentive schemes.

Vroom believed that employees were more likely to be highly motivated when they perceived a link between effort, performance and rewards. Sounds fair enough.

He proposed that the link between motivation, effort, performance, and reward could be explained via the following formula:

M = E x I x V

where M = motivation, E = Expectancy, I = Instrumentality, V = Valence. Continue reading

It motivates the workforce to do what, exactly?

As managers we will be asked to play a part in the application of company endorsed motivational techniques.

We might be asked to improve motivation by:

  • Holding annual performance reviews
  • Applying and setting incentive payments/bonuses
  • Cracking the whip, pointing out poor performance
  • Setting aspirational goals and KPI’s

When considering any motivational technique, it is important to ask- Continue reading

Top 9 Employee Values

Why do employee’s stick it out with companies, even when the renumeration is poor? Why do overpaid employee’s still leave? There are a many things to consider here, and it will be the subject of another blog post, but for the moment, lets keep it simple. Let’s focus on values.

Values can be defined as:

“Important and enduring beliefs or ideals shared by the members of a culture about what is good or desirable and what is not. Values exert major influence on the behavior of an individual and serve as broad guidelines in all situations.”

from :

To meet the needs of their employees, managers need to consider their staff’s values, and think on how they are delivering, or enabling those values. As a manger you need to be aware of all the core values. So what are they? What are the Top 9 Employee Values?

Continue reading