Sunday, April 3, 2011

Deming's philosophy - the root of Lean

In the Agile community, almost every one talking about Toyota's Lean technology. When we talking about lean, we can not ignore Deming, since Japanese learned a lot from Deming and goes further and have today's Lean.
Yesterday I spent some time watch Deming's videos on youtube:
W. Edwards Deming - Part 1,  Part 2,  Part 3
Dr. Deming - The 5 Deadly Diseases 1984

From these videos, you will easily find some of the lean principles do get from Deming, like: continuous improvement, eliminate wast, build quality in, respect people, optimize whole, focus on long-term goal, etc.I realize that the core of his philosophy is: respecting people, people first.

Here I copied his 14 points and 5 deadly diseases about management.
Deming's 14 points:
  1. Create constancy of purpose.
  2. Adopt the new philosophy.
  3. Cease dependence on mass inspection.Eliminate the need for massive inspection by building quality into the product in the first place.
  4. Minimize total cost when dealing with suppliers.
  5. Improve continuously products, services, and processes.
  6. Institute training on the job.
  7. Adopt and institute leadership.
  8. Drive out fear.
  9. Break down barriers between departments.
  10. Eliminate management by slogan and exhortation.
  11. Eliminate numerical quotas and goals.
  12. Eliminate barriers to joy in work.
  13. Institute a program of education and self-improvement for everyone.
  14. Put everyone to work on the transformation of the organization.

Deming's Five Deadly Diseases

1) Lack of Constancy of Purpose
- No planning for the future
- Lack of short term definition and goals

2) Emphasis on Short Term Profits
- Worship of the quarterly dividends
- Sacrificing long term growth of the organization
3) Annual Rating of Performance

- Arbitrary and unjust system
- Demoralizing to employees
- Nourishes short term performance
- Annihilates team work, encourages fear
4) Mobility of Management

- No roots in the company
- No Knowledge of the company
- No understanding of problems of company
5) Use of Visible Figures Only

- No use of figures that are unknown or unknowable, i.e., customer or employee satisfaction
- Encouraged by business schools

From the above, you will find these problems are quite common today, we need a long time to go to adopted his philosophy, this is why I am pessimistic about lean, because I feel the largest problem for lean is coming from managers, not from software developers.

Why learning philosophy is so important?
Some one might ask: we can just follow the practices or process, why we need to learn the philosophy?
I think if technology is good and worth doing, it must have some good principles or philosophy behind the concrete technologies. Once you understand the behind philosophy, you can master the technology, you will not be confused by the different variation or context. And also the detailed technologies or practices are context based, they are easily changed or deprecated with the time and context change; but principle/philosophy is different, they are abstract and can transcend the detailed context, the philosophy can be so powerful that they can apply to different context without change. That is why the art of war and the book of five ring is still useful today, because their principles are general and timeless. This is the meaning of Tao, that is why I am so obsessed by the principle and philosophy. The philosophy is hard to mastered, I remembered the author of The Toyota Way once mentioned, many companies adopted the Toyota production System, but Toyota find few companies really understand the behind philosophy. That is my suggestion, when you learn lean, you still need to understand the behind philosophy. If you just do the lean practices without knowing the philosophy, I am sure you will not do Lean correctly; you can do lean correctly only if you fully understand the lean philosophy.
Here I would like Quote What Deming said:(from his wiki)
"Once the individual understands the system of profound knowledge, he will apply its principles in every kind of relationship with other people. He will have a basis for judgment of his own decisions and for transformation of the organizations that he belongs to. The individual, once transformed, will:
  • Set an example;
  • Be a good listener, but will not compromise;
  • Continually teach other people; and
Help people to pull away from their current practices and beliefs and move into the new philosophy without a feeling of guilt about the past."

1 comment:

  1. This article is a good summary of Deming's 14 points: