Dr. W. Edwards Deming, metaphysical project team member.

Dr. W. Edwards Deming

Dr. W. Edwards Deming

“All truth passes through 3 stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” Arthur Schopenhauer.

In rescuing failing projects, the audit I carry out at its beginnings contain rigorous quality management activities – value analysis, for example. I ask myself (and others) questions regarding the project’s commitment to quality. When none is discovered or it is in very short supply, I turn to one of my invisible teammates; Dr. W. Edwards Deming. If you do not know this quality control management guru, I suggest you look him up. Some of you out there are working with his quality management processes and disciplines today.

Why Deming you may ask? Simply put, when arriving onto projects he helps me to output a clear and resounding commitment towards never-ending improvements. Yes it does cost me time (my personal time in fact), as some of those working with me have seen. When I do a 15 hour stint everyday, I am doing it because I am absorbing all knowledge necessary and working with others to implement a rescue package that will be of a superior quality than originally envisaged – by the client and the contract. “Quality is everyone’s responsibility”, says Deming

You may ask why I do this, as it cannot be very cost effective? The answer is simple. Quality does not cost as much as you have been trained to think or led to believe. “Profit in business comes from repeat customers, customers that boast about your project or service, and that bring friends with them”, explains Deming. In fact, quality costs less than what your senior management are paying to cover up its failing initiatives – Sainsbury’s £260 million write-off comes to mind here (and they are not alone. There are others right now, right this very second covering up huge mistakes). In the long term this will have a disastrous impact – most likely job cuts. All of this can be seen as a product of fear. Fear of telling senior management the truth … and most likely because some senior management cannot handle the truth. “Whenever there is fear, you will get wrong figures”, argues Deming (… I dare you to do better).

Today, these misleading figures (especially within project data) are becoming common place -> as highlighted by David McCandless: The beauty of data visualization – Ted.com. The real reason for misleading figures – put bluntly – is due to irresponsible management and their inability to plan proactively. I see this especially on the projects here in Sophia Antipolis – France. There is greater reactivity resulting in insane amounts of stress on the individual (France Telecom suicides come to mind here but they are not alone). “Rational behavior requires theory. Reactive behavior requires only reflex action”, as Deming points out. This reflex action is often irrational – driven by stress – induced by fear.

So again, ask me why I do this? In fact I will let Deming answer that for me, “All anyone asks for is a chance to work with pride.” Going that extra mile for quality best value in project delivery gives all stakeholders greater satisfaction. More importantly it has proven countless times to save on costs that are often hidden and laying in wait to sink a project. Equally important it allows me to share some of what I have learnt, and where I have learnt it, with you.

🙂

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