July 30, 2015
Learn Change Leadership From Two Great Teachers
By Michael Maccoby
Research Technology Management; Vol. 53, No. 2 March-April 2010 pp. 68-69.
If you need to change your organization, to make it more efficient and effective, I advise you to first get acquainted with the thinking of W. Edwards Deming (1900-1993) and Russell Ackoff (1919-2009). I had the very good fortune to learn directly from both of these theorists who have contributed so much to our most advanced understanding of change leadership.
During 1990-93, Deming invited me to meet with him regularly to discuss leadership and change. Ackoff and I worked together for more than 20 years at workshops and on change projects.
After World War II, Deming’s teachings helped Japanese industry produce high-quality products and drive waste out of the system. In the 1980s, Ford improved quality by using his methods which evolved into the Six Sigma approach that has made America products globally competitive.
Although both thinkers came from technical backgrounds—Deming from statistics, Ackoff from architecture and operations research—both combined technical and psychological factors in their systems thinking. Both emphasized the importance of the human side. Although you can apply Deming's philosophy to any managerial challenge, his teachings about quality improvement, with emphasis on reducing variation, are mainly useful for designing processes for manufacturing products so they fit specifications, less so to organizing technical service and knowledge work.
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