Blog posts on respect for people

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  • Effective Change Management Strategies and Tactics

    Create systems focused on continual improvement with built in checks for frequent assessment, reflection and adjustment to the changes the organization attempts to make.  This effort should be iterative. 

    Building the capacity of the organization to successfully adopt improvements will directly aid change efforts and also will build confidence that efforts to change are worthwhile and not, as with so many organizations, just busy work.

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  • The Importance of Management Improvement

    If organizations just adopt management improvement practices I firmly believe customer service, financial performance and employee satisfaction could be improved. This was a big part of the reason I started to use the internet to share management improvement ideas back in 1996 (plus I find management improvement interesting).

    On the note of making a difference in people’s lives. I have had far more people tell me how my father (Bill Hunter) made a huge difference in their lives than ever tell me anything like that about myself...

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  • Advice for Managers Who are Just Starting Out

    Read the Leader’s Handbook by Peter Scholtes and use it as a reference to guide your actions on a weekly basis.

    Learn to experiment and iterate quickly. Your main aim should be to manage the management system (which may mean the management practices used within your scope of authority or influence). As you start it will involve a significant amount of managing projects, to demonstrate your ability to deliver results, but that should be used to transition to building a strong management system.

    In conjunction with quick iteration and adoption of improvements your focus should be on coaching people to help them be more effective (among other things on helping them learn how to effectively practice evidenced based decision making and continual improvement).

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  • The Continued Failure of the USA Health Care System and Our Politicians

    Providing a health care is extremely costly everywhere. Rich countries nearly universally provide a health care system that allows all citizens to get needed health care. Nowhere is it perfect and nowhere is it cheap. And nowhere is it more of a mess than in the USA.

    Sadly those we elect in the USA have continued for the last few decades to keep the USA healthcare system the mess we have now. The Affordable Care Act took a relatively small step in addressing several of the most flawed aspects of the USA system. It left unaddressed many of the major flaws. Instead of taking where we are now and making improvements to address the problems left from decades of Democrat and Republican created and maintained USA health care policy all we have had are demands to “repeal Obamacare.”

    This is exactly the type on avoiding improvements to maintain the existing (for the last few decades) broken healthcare system those in the USA must live with. 


    We need to elect people dedicated to improving results not those interested in repeating slogans and avoiding any actual work on actually making things better.

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  • Peter Scholtes on Teams and Viewing the Organization as a System

    Peter includes a description of the creation of the “organization chart” (which Peter calls “train wreck management”) that we are all familiar with today; it was created in the Whistler report on a Western Railroad accident in 1841.

    Almost a direct quote from the Whistler report: “so when something goes wrong we know who was derelict in his duty.” The premise behind the traditional organizational chart is that systems are ok (if we indeed recognize that there are such things as systems) things are ok if everyone would do his or her job. The cause of problems is dereliction of duty.


    This is an absolutely great presentation: I highly recommend it (as I highly recommend Peter’s book: The Leader’s Handbook).

    Without understanding a systems view of an organization you can’t understand whats at the heart of the quality movement and therefore everything else you do, management interventions, ways of relating to people, will reflect more likely the old philosophy rather than the new one.

    Points like this are very true but difficult to understand until you come to view organizations as systems.

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  • Transforming Jet-Hot by Viewing the Organization as a System

    Jet-Hot integrates Deming’s system view with their own management or operating system. They have made this diagram the central way they operate as a system with common aim and purpose. They use this innovation in their Jet-Hot system and organize all their work with profound knowledge around their business operating system. Jet-Hot has also developed and implemented an application of technology – an operations support system to support their practice and their enterprise throughout their system. They have made this view and diagram actionable and practicable.


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  • Keeping Older Workers

    Finland, Japan and a few others may lead the way but the western industrialized world is quickly aging. It seems pretty straight forward that the aging workforce is going to be needed. And companies are going to have to adapt (that is my prediction anyway). I have always thought it is crazy that we work full time and then stop all together. It makes much more sense to me for there to be a gradual easing of the workload.

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  • Deming on being Destroyed by Best Efforts

    Best efforts are essential. Unfortunately, best efforts, people charging this way and that way without guidance of principles, can do a lot of damage. Think of the chaos that would come if everyone did his best, not knowing what to do.

        W. Edwards Deming

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  • Give People Enough Rope (and the Right Rope) to Succeed

    You want systems that let people take on challenges without too many restrictions but with enough support and training that you don't leave them hanging.


    the ropes should suit their situation. A tightrope over a chasm is fine for a trained acrobat with a balancing pole. It is foolish for someone without the right training or tools. They would be better served with something else - a rope bridge with railings.

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  • CEO’s Given Lottery Sized Payouts

    Today, in the USA, CEOs are basically win the lottery when they start and then either win some more and stay or don’t win and are let go. The lottery performance appraisal aspect Deming talked about (rewarding whoever random variation or macro economic and micro economic trends smiled upon during the period). So if a market (housing, oil, steel, investment banking, microchip, hotel…) is booming why give all the CEO’s in that market huge payoffs?

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  • Psychology – Managing Human Systems

    People are not cogs in a machine. Everyone brings extraordinary talents and abilities to the organization. Dr. Deming sought to maximize the value people bring to the organization. This requires giving them pride in their work, freedom to use their brain, tools to be effective and systems that allow people to practice continual improvement.

    Creating an environment where people flourish is key to Deming’s thinking. Deming understood what John McGregor put forth in the Human Side of Enterprise (1960) that people have an innate desire to take pride in what they do. Management’s job was to allow people to fulfill this need, not to attempt to manipulate behavior through external motivation.

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  • Cool Workspaces

    Beautiful work spaces acknowledge the people that work in those spaces and show a respect for employees as people.

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  • Shared Principles for Managing People Engaged in Diverse Tasks

    ...I do agree that the system within which people are operating determines how they must be managed. There are definitely features of software development that are significantly different than manufacturing scalpels or basketballs or tables. As there is a difference between a surgical team in an operating room, road construction, mining, editing books, investment banking, manufacturing industrial robots, researching new drugs, manufacturing drugs, teaching in a university, maintaining plane engines, coaching an athletic team...

    I see universal principles of management (respect for people, customer focus, continual improvement...) that cross all different human enterprises. How those principles should be manifest in a particular situations depend on the work being done, the management system that is in place, the individual people involved, the specific focus of the effort right now... The way those principles are manifest will look very different in all the varied types of organizations we create and the different work and processes used within those organizations.


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  • People are Our Most Important Asset

    ideally the organization would be providing all employees excellent coaching opportunities, all employees would be paid more than fairly, all employees would have the opportunity to develop along their desired plan, all employees would have great leadership, all employees would not be subject to continually annoyance of management system failures, all employees could count on the support of the system when needed…

    But in organizations that I have worked for we are have not reached that point. So while working to move the organization closer and closer to that goal, I believe making some extra effort to focus on those people that are helping move the organization in that direction. But it is risky if done without an understanding of systems, variation, psychology, etc.  Providing extra coaching, advice and attempting to protect people from the management failures you can’t get fixed seem like pretty safe methods.

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  • Tilting at Ludicrous CEO Pay

    I continue to tilt at the robber barron CEO pay packages. Hopefully, at some point, the people approving these obscene pay packages can be shamed into stopping or replaced by people with some sense of decency. I was taught in the days of robber barrons the business world was seen as an amoral place (morality did not belong in this area of human endeavor) but that over time society decided that in fact morality did apply there. It is hard to reconcile that change with the behavior of CEOs and board approving ludicrous pay packages.

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