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Lou Schultz

Basic Business Cents: Leadership, direction, action key to performance

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This article is the first in a series of articles reviewing a structured composite of theories and concepts of the Quality Masters detailed in the book, "Profiles in Quality." Analysis of these messages reveals three major groupings - leadership, direction and action.

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The leadership element has five components - roles and responsibilities, appreciation for a system, knowledge of variation, theory of knowledge and psychology. Four out of five of these components fell into place coinciding with the four elements of Dr. W. Edwards Deming's "Profound Knowledge."

The components of direction are aim, planning, implementation and review. The elements of action fit a model developed by Dr. Noriaki Kano, which he calls the House of Quality. These are general education, intrinsic technol- ogy, motivational approach, concepts, techniques, vehicles, strategies and customer satisfaction.

Sometimes we think there is nothing new in the field of quality and sometimes we think there is too much that is new. Some elements of quality are constant, some are evolving, and some are changing.

What we have seen is that the practice of quality improvement has evolved from product and service quality to process quality to organizational performance improvement, which in reality is leadership improvement.

To develop our concepts of the leader of the future, we can learn from studying the teachings of the masters in the field. They were great role models, always learning themselves and teaching others. Dr. Deming took music lessons until he was nearly 90 years old. And he never let up with his teaching, completing his last four-day seminar just 10 days before his death at age 93.

Walter Shewhart, Deming and Myron Tribus are three masters who used the Socratic Dialogue method of consulting. They asked simple questions, criticized answers and poked holes in faulty arguments.

They used this method not to put others down, but to teach. Those who spent time with them found it somewhat uncomfortable but always a great learning experience.

You might ask where did these "masters" learn? I explored where the masters learned to find the source of the wisdom they acquired and then developed further.

I charted who learned from whom. Many of the Americans and all the Japanese learned from Deming and to a lesser extent, Juran. Deming learned from Shewhart, Fischer, and C. I. Lewis. Shewhart learned from C. I. Lewis. The latter spent his lifetime studying the ancient philosophers and authored a book, "Mind and the World Order," which is a seminal work on how to treat people and live our lives.

The chart is by no means complete but it did reveal that the basic premises go all the way back to the ancient Greek philosophers. These truths have been with us for centuries and it is our job today to continue to uncover these eternal truths and apply them to our organizations.

The masters developed theory and tested it with data. Theory can never be proved. It can only be supported or disproved.

The masters never stopped learning. They continued to test their theories, modify and learn more. Nor would they let those around them stop learning.

I had the privilege of assisting Dr. Deming 26 times at his four-day seminars and I learned more each time. It was almost embarrassing, as I would say to myself, why didn't you understand that before?

What I discovered in my research of the masters' works is that their theories could be grouped into three basic elements of organizational performance - leadership, direction and action. Everything else supports these three.

We will examine these elements of organizational performance improvement in future articles.

Louis Schultz, managing director of Process Management LLC, has assisted organizations worldwide with performance improvement. He currently works with area business owners as a SCORE counselor. E-mail him with questions or comments at lou@process

management.com.

Louis Schultz, managing director of Process Management LLC, has assisted organizations worldwide with performance improvement. He currently works with area business owners as a SCORE counselor. E-mail him with questions or comments at lou@process

management.com.

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