In this episode, David and Andrew ask: should we tell people when they make mistakes? How do educators manage mistakes in a classroom setting, after their organization/classroom is transformed by learning and implementing Deming?
0:00:00.0 Andrew Stotz: My name is Andrew Stotz, and I'll be your host as we continue our journey into the teachings of Dr. W. Edwards Deming. Today I'm continuing my discussion with David P. Langford, who has devoted his life to applying Dr. Deming's philosophy to education, and he offers us his practical advice for implementation. The topic for the day is, "should we tell people when they make mistakes?" We are continuing a discussion about Dr. Deming's section of the book, The New Economics. If you have the 3rd edition, that's page 86. If you have the 2nd edition, that's page 125. And this is a list that Dr. Deming has given us of 14 points. It's not The 14 points that we normally talk about, but these are... The title of this 14 points is called Role of a Manager of People. This is the new role of a manager of people after transformation, and we are on point number six. And I'll just read it before we get David to start talking on it, and that is this.
0:01:02.7 AS: "The role of a manager in a new style," basically he's saying, "If he understands a stable system. He understands... " And I know we can also say she, "understands the interaction between people and the circumstances that they work in. He understands that the performance of anyone that can learn a skill will come to a stable state upon which further lessons will not bring improvement of performance. A manager of people knows that in this stable state it is distracting to tell the worker about a mistake." David, take it away.
0:01:41.2 David P. Langford: Thank you, Andrew. It's good to be back again. Yeah, I was just reflecting on this list is... It's such a great list. I'm sure that when people first read through this book they kinda just take 30 seconds to read through the list and then you go on. I've been studying Dr. Deming's work for over 40 years now and still find so much insight into all these things. So if you go through this and you start thinking about, "Well, what can I do differently and where do I begin?" I was also thinking that, when I got my Master's in Administration, I never heard of any of this. I never heard of a stable state, control charts, theory. I never got any of this or had a list on to how to manage people, which would have been very helpful, very insightful. So if you're working at a university right now and you're a teacher of classes of administration, here's some good advice, take people through this list and they'll actually come out with capability of what to do. But now back to the list. So, the first thing he says is you have to understand a stable system.
0:03:01.1 DL: So we did a couple of previous podcasts on stable and unstable systems, and on face value, a lot of people think: "Okay, well, stable system, okay, well, it's working well." But Deming's thinking around a stable system is much, much deeper than that, and it has to do with statistical stability. And so if you understand a stable system, then the first thing you're gonna have to do is you have to find out, "Do I have a stable system?" And so often when I work with people, I'll just start with sort of disarming questions and say, "Hey, how are things going?"
0:03:45.4 DL: And they'll usually say, "Well, it's going pretty good." And, "Okay, well, how do you know?" "Well, 'cause people are telling me that it goes pretty good." "Well, how many people do you manage? Oh well, I have like 30 people on the staff." So you're telling me that 30 people are telling you every day that things are going really well? "Well, no, one person told me." "Well, do we know what the other 29 think?" So, right there you realize a manager does not understand a stable system. They have no idea what they're doing, and the ph