Dr. Deming railed against performance appraisals, listing them 3rd in his Seven Deadly Diseases of Management and calling them "Destroyer of People." In this discussion, John Dues explains our cultural attachment to appraising workers and why it is a myth to assume that appraisals have any impact on performance at all.
0:00:02.3 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 John Dues, who is part of the new generation of educators striving to apply Dr. Deming's principles to unleash student joy in learning. The topic for today is a continuation of our discussion about management myths that keep fooling us, and we are gonna be talking about performance appraisals. John, take it away.
0:00:32.1 John Dues: It's good to be back Andrew. I thought it'd be helpful first to connect back to what we've done, because it'll help listeners connect the dots between the various episodes that we've done together. I think this is the eighth episode, so episode one and two were all about the System of Profound Knowledge as a theory, and then episode three, we started working on understanding the concept of variation, special causes, common causes, that type of thing, and then four and five, we switched gears and talked about how to then apply the System of Profound Knowledge in our organizations. And so we talked about two powerful tools, process behavior charts, and then the PDSA cycles.
0:01:21.9 JD: Episode six, we started talking about A Nation at Risk and the Sandia report and how calls for education reform haven't always been built on a solid philosophical foundation. And then last time I introduced this idea of living in an age of mythology, and we talked about two myths. The myth about best practices and the myth of the hero educator. And so today, like you said, I thought we continue that discussion of the myths with a focus on performance appraisals, which is something that is a little bit hard to understand, I think it was hard for me to understand initially, but it's something that I thought was important because it's something when I listen to Dr. Deming's recorded seminars, it's something that he railed upon often.
0:02:14.9 JD: And I think tying all of the myths to a couple of key ideas is helpful. So I think that first idea is that when we see outcomes in a system, they're more than the skills and efforts of the individuals that work within the system. So those results come from more than just how the individuals within that system are working. The outcomes, that second idea is that the outcomes are mostly attributable to the system itself, and workers are only one part of that system. I think that's really important. That underlies all these myths and certainly underlies this idea of the myth of the performance appraisal.
0:03:00.8 JD: And I think that when we're talking about these myths, so we've covered the theory, we've talked about some ways to apply that theory, that System of Profound Knowledge in actual organizations. When we're thinking about the myths, what I'm thinking about is, dos and don'ts. And so the myths are the don'ts. There are specific prescriptions following the Deming philosophy that leaders should learn to stay away from and why to do so. And then of course, the do's would be a set of guiding principles to follow, and I thought, right now, we're focused on the myths and as we get through this episode and maybe one more on the myths, then we would then focus on the "what do you do?" That's where the guiding principles would come in, and so Deming outlined all of this for us. The theory, the application, the Do's and the Don'ts, and so that's where I thought we would start today.
0:03:55.6 AS: That's great. And we were talking before we turned on the recorder about how performance appraisals are such a fascinating area, and I know for a lot