Thursday, July 28, 2016


Leadership is the practice of providing to people an environment where they can sustainably and beneficially explore capability, opportunity and enquiry in pursuit of mission.

Monday, July 25, 2016

10 factors 10: the team

10. Your team. Be a great people manager. Show them the project vision and how they can make it happen. Motivate them. Trust and believe in them. Make them feel valued. They will work wonders.
No manager 'motivates' people. People motivate themselves. Unfortunately if the manager is not careful he or she will end up DE-motivating people. Dangerous!

Nor do you 'make' people feel valued. If you conceptualise the project team as a community of adults intent on a productive outcome, then you will inevitably value people's expertise and they in turn, being valued, will deliver commitment.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Doing it right

In Deming and disease, I wrote of an example of the typical management mish-mash often seen in business.

Demings recommendations may appear to be recondite to some, so examples?

One that that touches on the topic is: Seddon's "Systems thinking, lean production and action learning" in Action Learning Research and Practice 2007 v. 4 n. 1.

John Seddon practices systems work in organisations through Vanguard Consulting in the UK.

No commercial relation; I just think that his philosophy of the people doing the work are best placed to understand the system they work in is the right one.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Adding up for recruitment

I was recently involved in a recruitment where we scored the candidates against a number of criteria, then added the scores to determine the preferred candidate.

I wondered about this in terms of my post on scoring in procurement selections.

In the recruitment, did we rank candidates, in a Likert scale fashion, or did we give them a score in school quiz fashion.

If it was a quiz score, then adding might have been valid...if the scores were on the same base, but if Likert ranks, then we should have counted the number at each rank and compared them.

This would be closer to the approach I discussed, where a large number of criteria are established against which binary success-failure is determined. We then count the number of successes, and that person becomes the preferred one.

Deming and disease

I attended a talk recently where the speaker told us that she had just executed a very unpopular restructure in her firm, and that she was about to embark on an equally unpopular session of 'performance appraisals' that involved fitting people's performance to a bell curve.

Her c.v. in the conference papers mentioned that she had consulted using Deming's 'TQM'.

What a mish mash of conflicting and half-understood ideas.

TQM, at best, is an attempt to mechanise Deming, rather than to adopt his management philosophy.

His philosophy is encapsualted in his "System of Profound Knowledge"

Implementation is guided by his '14 points' to avoid or overcome the '7 diseases of management'.

The speaker did not appear to be familiar with any.


The 14 points

1. Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service, with the aim to become competitive and to stay in business, and to provide jobs.
2. Adopt the new philosophy. We are in a new economic age. Western management must awaken to the challenge, must learn their responsibilities, and take on leadership for change.
3. Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality. Eliminate the need for inspection on a mass basis by building quality into the product in the first place.  
4. End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price tag. Instead, minimize total cost. Move toward a single supplier for any one item, on a long-term relationship of loyalty and trust.
5. Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service, to improve quality and productivity, and thus constantly decrease costs.
6. Institute training on the job.
7. Institute leadership (see Point 12 and Ch. 8). The aim of supervision should be to help people and machines and gadgets to do a better job. Supervision of management is in need of overhaul, as well as supervision of production workers.
8. Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company (see Ch. 3).
9. Break down barriers between departments. People in research, design, sales, and production must work as a team, to foresee problems of production and in use that may be encountered with the product or service.
10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the work force asking for zero defects and new levels of productivity. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships, as the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the system and thus lie beyond the power of the work force.
  • Eliminate work standards (quotas) on the factory floor. Substitute leadership.
  • Eliminate management by objective. Eliminate management by numbers, numerical goals. Substitute leadership.
11. Remove barriers that rob the hourly worker of his right to pride of workmanship. The responsibility of supervisors must be changed from sheer numbers to quality.
12. Remove barriers that rob people in management and in engineering of their right to pride of workmanship. This means, inter alia, abolishment of the annual or merit rating and of management by objective (see Ch. 3).
13. Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement.
14. Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everybody's job.

And, the 7 Deadly Diseases

 1. Lack of constancy of purpose to plan product and service that will have a market and keep the company in business, and provide jobs.
2. Emphasis on short-term profits: short-term thinking (just the opposite from constancy of purpose to stay in business), fed by fear of unfriendly takeover, and by push from bankers and owners for dividends.
3. Evaluation of performance, merit rating, or annual review.
4. Mobility of management; job hopping.
5. Management by use only of visible figures, with little or no consideration of figures that are unknown or unknowable.

6. Excessive medical costs.
7. Excessive costs of liability, swelled by lawyers that work on contingency fees

The last two less of a problem in Australia, but the last is worth keeping an eye on.

Point 10 and Disease 3 appear to have been lost on the speaker.

Part of her problem was a mechanistic top-down and disempowering theory of leadership: the popular theory.

Opposed to this is the view that Mintzberg espouses and calls 'communityship'; this is more reflective of how adults work together to be productive, creative and committed to a mission. The manager's job in terms of 'leadership' is to create for people an environment where this is sustained, and ensure the flow of resources and information to enable it to happen.

In general management, and so in project management as well.