Friday, May 29, 2015

Deming Can Teach You Everything You Need To Know To Properly Consider Cleveland's Police Problems, Public School Failures, and Any Other Problem You Can Think Of

By Keenan Mann

Two days ago, the City of Cleveland agreed with the Department of Justice to undergo  police department reforms. An article in read in part;

"The scope of the settlement, known as a consent decree, is sweeping.  A 105-page document will serve as a blueprint for overhauling policies that federal lawyers say promoted excessive force. It also demands more accountability and transparency from officers and their supervisors when justifying the use of force.

Perhaps most ambitiously, it aims to mend a frayed relationship between police and the community. Citizens would have a larger role and louder voice through a 13-member advisory committee established to recommend improvements. The city also agreed to revise its search-and-seizure guidelines and develop a "bias-free" policing strategy, committing to change in areas that, although not originally on the Justice Department's list, advanced to the forefront during a series of community meetings..."

This is good news right?  Perhaps, but I'll come back to that later.

In yesterday's post, I talked about John Kotter's eight steps to leading change and their application to the failing Education system.  After some conversation and reflection, I've concluded that W. Edwards Deming teachings are probably a more appropriate point of view from which to consider that or any other problem needing attention.

Deming (1900-1993) was a world renowned statistician and management consultant who, in the early 1950s, played a pivotal role in helping Japan's manufacturing industry recover from it's dismantling in WWII.  His training of hundreds of Japanese engineers, managers, and scholars led to a quality revolution in Japan that put them a few decades ahead of the rest of the world. 

There are are countless volumes written on Deming's work, but the focus herein is on his System of Profound Knowledge, which is broken into four parts.  Dr. Barbara Berry summarized each very well below:

1.  Appreciation of a system.  A system is complex. It is made up of interrelated components of people and processes with a clearly defined, shared destination or goal. Everyone must share a distinct understanding and commitment to the aim or purpose of the system. 

Appreciation of a system depends on quality leaders’ understanding the interconnectedness and interdependence the interconnectedness must be clearly defined and documented for successful flow or continuous improvement of the process. 

Optimization of a system can occur when all interconnecting components are orchestrated to achieve the organization’s goal. The people, free of fear and competition within the system can band together for optimization of the system. In a quality system, everybody gains.  The traditional “management by objectives” philosophy fails to orchestrate the components, leaving each one to do a job separate from the other components and often causing them to work against the successes of others. No one component may seek its own reward without destroying the balance of the system. Each component is obligated to contribute its best to the system as a whole. In all negotiations the results must be win/win. 

Competitiveness within the system leads to loss for the system. Each component works interdependently with the other components.

2.  The Psychology of Change.  The system self-organizes around its Identity. That includes its vision, purpose, guiding principles, values, history, theory of success and shared aspirations. A clearly designed, shared identity allows the organization to self-organize in alignment with the identity desired by leadership. All systems are complex adaptive systems which adapt around their identity. The identity may be designed by leadership or it may occur without design, more by accident. If it is allowed to occur accidentally it will lack clear, shared direction. Thus empowerments will not be fully successful. 

A new style of leadership is required in Complex adapting organizations. This style is one in which the leader serves their people with vision and guidance to see the interconnectedness of the whole system. The leaders must first gain and communicate a shared identity and then be able to allow the organization ownership of that identity. The leader serves the people with clear vision and guidance to empower them. To be empowered is to share ownership in the identity. 

Often resistance to change is strong because everyone feels devalued. Resistance is diminished when everyone shares in the identity and understands the benefits of change. By adapting and developing new skills people feel their value increase, they have ownership in the change. 

People are born with intrinsic motivation, self-esteem, desire to learn, creativity and joy in accomplishment, and a need for freedom and belonging. Early experiences may diminish self-esteem, but successful accomplishments serve to improve it. Giving people a certain degree of control over their work fulfills the need for freedom and provides opportunity for taking joy in work. Teamwork and loyalty to the work place satisfies the need to belong. 

Industrial style thinking has lead to management styles of command and control. The industrial age influenced the workplace and schools to encourage individual completeness, absolute authority, and one-right answer thinking. A change in philosophy requires unlearning industrial thinking evident in departmentalization, scarcity of knowledge and information competitiveness.

3.  Knowledge About Variation.  No two things are exactly alike, not people, not processes. Variation is a natural, inevitable part of life. 

The goal of quality or continuous improvement is to reduce the range of variation over time, in addition to adjusting the process level to the desired level. 

Almost all variation within a process is due to chance causes, inherent in the design of the process. Management controls the design of the process. People within the system are limited by that design. 

Dr. Deming went to great lengths to illustrate this in his red bead experiment in which he demonstrated that despite coercive demands and the best efforts of the workers or supervisors, variation is still present in the number of undesirable red beads scooped up by the worker. 

Limits within which the natural or common variation of a process falls can be determined from data collected from the process. When all data points fall within these limits, the process is said to be in control and stable. Once these limits (control limits) are established, one can set about to reduce the distance between the limits. Using a control chart allows one to easily observe when the process is outside the limits, thus indicating special cause variation within the process. 

Problems arise when management reacts to common cause or chance variation as if it were special cause variation. This can be illustrated by the reaction to point-to-point variation in a process. That is, one point shows improvement and no one questions the goodness of the process. The next point might get worse and everyone asks why, when it is really common cause variation. Pressure is applied to operators who have no control over the variation resulting from the design of the process. The emphasis is placed on point-to-point variation rather than working to decrease all variation and improve the average. 

Tampering can also be an issue. This happens when operators make adjustments to processes that are showing only common cause variation, i.e., all points fall within the control limits and there are no patterns indicating special cause variation. By doing this they will actually increase the amount of variation in the process. 

Knowledge gained from this study of process variation must be integrated into continuous improvement efforts through the use of the continuous improvement cycle. Sometimes called the Shewhart Cycle, continuous improvement consists of (1) planning and studying data to predict a solution, (2) implementing changes while (3) carefully checking resulting effects on the system, when the desired results occur, (4) take action to fully implement the changes. The cycle stages are: Plan-Do-Check-Act.

4.  The Theory of Knowledge.  As stated here, implies that system improvement depends on continuous study of the organization. Improvement is learning and developing new knowledge about the system. The learning process requires several steps: 1) forming a theory, 2) making predictions based on past experiences, 3) testing the theory, 4) checking the results. Building knowledge through systematic analysis of short-term/longterm results and revision and extension to the theory provides the learning process. This can be related to the Shewhart Cycle: Plan-Do-Check-Act. 

Knowledge is developed from the application of theory. The theory provides a window from which to view the situation and gives meaning to experience. Prediction based in theory provides a foundation for planning a course of action. The formation of a theory is based on past experiences. It can be adjusted based on analysis of results of any actions applied. This cycle provides knowledge that can be applied for continuous improvement, thus a continuous improvement process is established. 

Deming cautions that we do not mistake information for knowledge. Information without application

of the cycle of theory-prediction-action-analysis-adjustment does not create learning or knowledge and does not improve the process. 

Tampering with the system: actions applied to individual components without the guidance of profound knowledge works against the system even when best efforts are made. In this scenario, decisions are usually made in a reactionary manner which leads to other reactionary behavior which serves as a misbalancing force on the system. 

Organizations which are caught in a reactionary cycle are incapable of operating on a theory of knowledge because reactionary cycle behavior usually excludes the use of the theory-knowledge cycle; a reactionary cycle is short-term and usually occurs without opportunity to check the effect of that action on other components of the system.

So is the Cleveland's deal with the DOJ to reform its police department a good thing?

I could have this all wrong, but to me it looks like the powers that be in Cleveland and at the DOJ have no appreciation of a system.  The 105 page document sounds like a bunch of reactions to common cause variations and, as such, amounts to little more than tampering with that system.

Now if they really wanted to make the Cleveland police better, they'd have to make Cleveland better, which would include Cleveland schools, Cleveland teachers, Cleveland teachers unions, Cleveland police unions, Cleveland parents, Cleveland City Government, etc.

And to accomplish that, they'd all have to take the difficult (psychological) leap that to optimize the results for Cleveland as a whole, they might have to make sacrifices.  Departmentalized competing interests most certainly confer benefits to the winning departments in other words, but the system is, more than likely, worse off.

Problems have solutions for sure.  But it's what we don't know, not what we know that is the key to making progress towards those solutions.  Learning what we don't know is as easy as the picture above illustrates.  All we need to get started is a question.

So here's another question:  Are the City of Cleveland and the DOJ willing to learn and act according to their new knowledge or is what they think they already know enough?

I have my theory.


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