22 min

What is the Critical Mass for Transformation‪?‬ In Their Own Words

    • Management

How many people need to be "on board" in order to start implementing Deming ideas in an organization? Andrew and David P. Langford discuss Dr. Deming's answer and what that means for folks trying to make changes.
TRANSCRIPT
0:00:02.6 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. Today's topic is, What is the Critical Mass for Transformation? David, take it away.
0:00:27.6 David Langford: Thank you, Andrew. It's good to be back. So this idea about transformation, what is the transformation? What are we talking about? We hear a lot about the political transformations and things like that. And I stopped shaving, so now I have a beard, and is that a transformation? And what do we do with that? I also get the questions a lot over the last 40 years about, well, how do we get everybody on board? In fact, almost anytime I do a seminar, I almost always get a question from a principal, superintendent, or somebody in education, how do we get everybody on board? Well, and Deming talked a lot about that transformation starts with the individual. So you've got to get yourself on board to begin with. And I remember when I started learning about Deming and started reading the books and kind of going through things, it was a mental transformation for me individually. So that's probably the first step if you're thinking about transforming an organization, whether that be a classroom, a school, a company, a family, whatever you might want to think about, is, getting yourself on board.
0:01:46.8 DL: And then the second thing is, okay, well, now we're going to transform a larger part of the organization. What do we do then? So I actually put that question to Dr. Deming one time, and he said, well, "I like to think about having the square root of the organization to cause a transformation of the organization. And this just blew me away because, let's say you have 100 employees or 100 staff members on a school or whatever it might be. And if you have the thought that you're going to get everybody on board before you do anything, well, if you understand Dr. Deming's concept of Profound Knowledge, you're never going to get there. You're never going to have 100 people on board before you start anything. You're going to have variability. You're going to have variation in people. And even if you had 100 people say, "Oh yeah, we're not bored, let's do this," well, what's the degree of their commitment to doing that? That's a huge amount of variation in the organization. So when I asked Dr. Deming, I said, "Well, how do I begin transforming a whole organization like that?" And he said, "Well, I like to think of the square root of the organization," that you need the square root on board to cause a transformation.
0:03:15.3 AS: So I was thinking about the square root and I was calculating it. So if we have 100 employees in an organization, that's 10 people. If we have 1000, that is 32 people. If we have 100,000, that's 300 people. It's a relatively small number.
0:03:34.2 DL: Yeah, think about that. And that as a leader, sort of liberates you from thinking that, "Okay, I've got to get everybody on board before we can start doing stuff." And that's just really not true at all. Or in a classroom, you've got 25 kids in a classroom. I really only need about five kids in that classroom that are kind of on board with me and the thought processes, and we can begin a transformation in that classroom. I've told that to so many teachers and it's like this huge revelation in their mind is like, "Oh wow, I just never had thought about that." And it enables you to sort of get to work. Almost anybody can like pick off the names of five students that would be supportive of working with you

How many people need to be "on board" in order to start implementing Deming ideas in an organization? Andrew and David P. Langford discuss Dr. Deming's answer and what that means for folks trying to make changes.
TRANSCRIPT
0:00:02.6 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. Today's topic is, What is the Critical Mass for Transformation? David, take it away.
0:00:27.6 David Langford: Thank you, Andrew. It's good to be back. So this idea about transformation, what is the transformation? What are we talking about? We hear a lot about the political transformations and things like that. And I stopped shaving, so now I have a beard, and is that a transformation? And what do we do with that? I also get the questions a lot over the last 40 years about, well, how do we get everybody on board? In fact, almost anytime I do a seminar, I almost always get a question from a principal, superintendent, or somebody in education, how do we get everybody on board? Well, and Deming talked a lot about that transformation starts with the individual. So you've got to get yourself on board to begin with. And I remember when I started learning about Deming and started reading the books and kind of going through things, it was a mental transformation for me individually. So that's probably the first step if you're thinking about transforming an organization, whether that be a classroom, a school, a company, a family, whatever you might want to think about, is, getting yourself on board.
0:01:46.8 DL: And then the second thing is, okay, well, now we're going to transform a larger part of the organization. What do we do then? So I actually put that question to Dr. Deming one time, and he said, well, "I like to think about having the square root of the organization to cause a transformation of the organization. And this just blew me away because, let's say you have 100 employees or 100 staff members on a school or whatever it might be. And if you have the thought that you're going to get everybody on board before you do anything, well, if you understand Dr. Deming's concept of Profound Knowledge, you're never going to get there. You're never going to have 100 people on board before you start anything. You're going to have variability. You're going to have variation in people. And even if you had 100 people say, "Oh yeah, we're not bored, let's do this," well, what's the degree of their commitment to doing that? That's a huge amount of variation in the organization. So when I asked Dr. Deming, I said, "Well, how do I begin transforming a whole organization like that?" And he said, "Well, I like to think of the square root of the organization," that you need the square root on board to cause a transformation.
0:03:15.3 AS: So I was thinking about the square root and I was calculating it. So if we have 100 employees in an organization, that's 10 people. If we have 1000, that is 32 people. If we have 100,000, that's 300 people. It's a relatively small number.
0:03:34.2 DL: Yeah, think about that. And that as a leader, sort of liberates you from thinking that, "Okay, I've got to get everybody on board before we can start doing stuff." And that's just really not true at all. Or in a classroom, you've got 25 kids in a classroom. I really only need about five kids in that classroom that are kind of on board with me and the thought processes, and we can begin a transformation in that classroom. I've told that to so many teachers and it's like this huge revelation in their mind is like, "Oh wow, I just never had thought about that." And it enables you to sort of get to work. Almost anybody can like pick off the names of five students that would be supportive of working with you

22 min