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  • Software Code Reviews from a Deming Perspective

    I think the “inspection” in code reviews is different enough that we can use code reviews as a valuable tool for managing software development. The waste of having processes that create defects and then use inspection to catch them is certainly something to avoid. A significant part of the effort in code reviews should be geared toward capturing learning that can be applied to current processes to improve them so fewer bugs are created in the future.

    In my experience this part of code reviews (using it to improve the existing processes) is not given the focus it should be. So I do believe that code reviews should focus more on why did we find something we decided to fix?

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  • New Toyota CEO’s Views (2005)

    Toyota has grown in the past few years, but [there’s a risk] that a belief that the current status is satisfactory creeps into the minds of employees. That’s what I’m worried about.

    We should never be satisfied with the current status. In each division, function, or region, we still have numerous problems to cope with. We need to identify each one of those tasks or problems and fully recognize them and pursue the causes. This needs to be done by all the people working for Toyota.

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  • Cater to Customers Desires to Achieve Customer Delight

    Customer delight requires understanding your customers needs and desires. Often even your customers don’t understand these well. Businesses that have a deep appreciation for what their customers, and potential customers, desire and that create systems to deliver solutions that delight those customers benefit greatly from that effort.

    To build a sustainable enterprise you must provide value customers will appreciate.

    Your customers do not have one unified set of desires. Some customers may want as good an experience as is possible and if that costs substantially more they are happy to pay. Others want to pay the least possible while having an acceptable experience.

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  • Why Do People Fail to Adopt Better Management Methods?

    It is confusing to know that better methods exist but to see those better methods being ignored.  It seems that if there were better ways to manage, people would adopt those methods.  But this just isn't the case; sometimes better methods will be adopted but often they won't.  People can be very attached to the way things have always been done.  Or they can just be uncomfortable with the prospect of trying something new.

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  • Creating a Deep Commitment to Delighting Customers

    Those organizations that can delight customers today and take the steps today that position the organization to delight customers in the future will prosper and grow. But building and maintaining a management culture that reinforces delighting customers and long term thinking is quite difficult.

    ...

    Successfully delighting customers requires much more than a wish that customers were delighted with our organization. It requires knowing what your customers want and creating system that can reliably delivering that to customers.

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  • Innovation in Organizations

    Innovation is one of the areas of management improvement that is not given sufficient attention.  Innovation is critical to the success of organizations and to the Deming management philosophy. Deming however, never had much specific advice on how to innovate. The management strategies he proposed do support innovation: truly knowing your customers, constancy of purpose, truly knowing your business, understanding your purpose, etc..

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  • The Quick Fix

    W. Edwards Deming

    One trouble with American industry today is that top management supposes that one lecture or one day will do it. “Come, spend a day with us, and do for us what you did for Japan, that we too may be saved.”

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  • Technological Innovation and Management

    Organizations need to be designed to be robust and to cope well with the increasingly rapid pace of transformative innovation. This again reinforces the importance of management improvement practices that I have been writing about here (on the Curious Cat Management Improvement blog) for more than 10 years. Organizations that do not delight customers, know the jobs to be done that their customers have, focus on the future (long term thinking), understand how to use data, have well designed processes that allow those at the gemba to know what to do and know how to rapidly adjust based on new realities and possibilities are at great risk.

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  • Agile Software Development and Deming's Ideas

    It's one of the reasons for "people over process" and all that; they believe that a software developer should be respected. Yes, they should. Factory workers should be respected, too. Everyone should be respected. That's what Deming was talking about. So then the idea that Deming was trying to impose on software developers some rigid controls that they shouldn't be subject to is not so. And not only wasn't he doing that, he wasn't doing that to factory workers either.

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  • Deming and Toyota

    I believe Toyota applied Deming’s ideas to create a management system and continued to develop that system to create the Toyota Production System (also known as lean manufacturing).

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  • Lean Thinking and Management

    I agree that we should acknowledge the paucity of success stories for improving the practice of management. The failures of management are not minor. The problems are large and the successes seem limited. The biggest thing I think we need to learn from this is that improving management is not easy. The concepts may seem simple but most of us can look around and see much more Dilbert Boss behavior than lean thinking behavior. And the gap between those two types of behavior seems to rise as you go “up” the organization chart.

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  • The Importance of Critical Thinking and Challenging Assumptions

    Critical thinking is important to applying management improvement methods effectively. It is important to know when decisions are based on evidence and when decisions are not based on evidence. It can be fine to base some decisions on principles that are not subject to rational criticism. But it is important to understand the thought process that is taken to make each decision. If we are not clear on the basis (evidence or opinion regardless of evidence) we cannot be as effective in targeting our efforts to evaluate the results and continually improve the processes in our organizations.

    ...

    Changing the culture to one that values understanding and learning takes time. That process must be done with an understanding of psychology and the challenges of getting people to evaluate decisions. Creating a culture where it is expected that people think about the evidence and are comfortable explaining and defending the reasoning behind decisions is extremely important.

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  • Dangers of Forgetting the Proxy Nature of Data

    We use data to act as a proxy for some results of the system. Often people forget that the desired end result is not for the number to be improved but for the situation to be improved. We hope, if the measure improves the situation will have improved. But there are many reasons this may not be the case (one number improving at the expense of other parts of the system, the failure of the number to accurately serve as a proxy, distorting numbers, etc.).

    I find something I learned from Brian Joiner an excellent summary – which I remember as:

    Data (measuring a system) can be improved by

    1. distorting the system
    2. distorting the data or
    3. improving the system (which tends to be more difficult though likely what is desired)
      Brian Joiner’s book, 4th Generation Management is a great book for managers.

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  • Management Improvement History

    I do believe we need to improve our practice of Quality (and to do that we need to understand what happened in the past and why it was not more successful). The idea that Design of Experiments (DoE) was at the core of some Quality Movement to me is not at all accurate.


    In my experience only a few Quality professionals today understand what it means and how it should be applied. The idea that it was common place in the 40’s I seriously doubt (though I don’t have first hand knowledge of this). I find it difficult to believe we would have decided to stop using DoE if it was commonly done previously. The understanding I have from those that should know (like George Box and previously my father – Bill Hunter) is that it was not at all common practice and still is not outside of a few industries and even there it is isolated in the domain of a few experts.I do have first hand knowledge of the 80’s and the idea that we did “employee training in problem solving, team activities and just-in-time inventory” well is not even close to accurate. We sent people to training on these things but other than JIT inventory the effectiveness of these efforts were poor (with a few exceptions that really did well).

    “Quality” is not being practiced anywhere close to the level with which I am satisfied with in more than a few organizations. We have huge improvements to make in the practice of DoE, SPC, process improvement, having decisions made by the appropriate level (as close to the issue as possible), leadership, teamwork, data based decision making, the use of basically all the Quality tools, systems thinking, transformation…

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  • Taguchi Loss Function

    In practice, I have seen the concept of the Taguchi Loss Function used quite a bit. I have never actually seen any losses quantified and totaled and shown on a graph. I think focusing specifically on who suffers a loss and what that loss could be, can help. I think actually quantifying the losses to society can be daunting. So, while I see the value in framing the concept that way I think to actually get the losses quantified you are best served by starting with those closest to the process and then adding additional loses to those results.

    Second, if you attempt to use the concept to help you manage (as a guide in decision making) the impacts to society are a factor, but, I think the loss to your company, the customer and perhaps the end user are most important. A negative impact to society at large is not going to have the same impact to a decision maker as the same negative impact to the customer. The decision maker will likely be willing to invest more to reduce the loss to a customer than to society at large (and that seems logical and sensible to me).

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