Enterprise 2.0 and quality

I’ve always been convinced that enterprise 2.0 had a hudge potential but that it was often wasted because of 2.0 experts’ navel-gazing and a kind of will to marginalize those they consider as backward-looking people. In short, enterprise 2.0 often failed to speak a language that could be understood by the enterprise. It’s in no way a matter of capacity but a matter of languange, a disinterest toward “old things” that were ignored to the extent it was useless to say a word about them, that their very existence was neglected or denied. What a pity, since these things are enterprises’ spine column.

I broached this issue earlier this year and I’m glad to see this was one of the lessons of the ast Enterprise 2.0 conference. It’s encouraging for meany reasons.

In my “let’s talk about old things” series, I’d like to say a few things about quality. For many people, quality is as subjective and…qualitative concept. For other people, quality is about providing customers with what they expect to get. This logic was carried on to its deeper ends by Deming who expressed it this way : quality = (results of work efforts) / (total costs). The consequence is that when quality increases  costs decrease, and when any organization focuses on costs, quality decreases automatically. I won’t go further but if you want to know more about this, I advise you  to read “Out of the Crisis” which is still very relevant 20 years later and may make us think not all the consequences where drawn from Deming’s teaching. In short, Deming went beyond compliance control and turned quality into a real theory of management. That’s the point that may interest many enterprise 2.0 practitioners.

Deming’s thinking was successfully implemented in Japan but, used to be banned from US companys because it was not compliant with the theory of division of labor. That’s very close to what we’re exeperiencing now. Even “worse”: in his theory, he considers knowledge as the most important resource. Very close to our current issues…

There’s another point that people who didn’t like my thoughts about the optionnal nature of “humanist philosophy” in enteprise 2.0 may enjoy. Deming was against the traditional violence in management and was  pursuing social cohesion as he thought it was a driver for efficiency. As a matter of fact he used to say that his conception of management was about “bringing democracy into the industry” and many feedbacks prove that “this new approach of management tends to favor social dialog and the achievement of common goals”. Interesting.

Demin also identified enterprises’ deadly diseases. He listed seven ones, I’ll mention 5 of them : lack of constancy of purpose, emphasis on short-term profits, evaluation by performance, merit rating, or annual review of performance, Mobility of management running a company on visible figures alone.

Then come Deming’s 14 points. I’ll highlight and comment some of them.

  1. Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service, with the aim to become competitive and stay in business, and to provide jobs. (quick feedbacks and interation made possible by E2.0 tools ?)
  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. (co-conception, making possible for designers and those who carry out their orders to understand each other and prevent future failures)
  4. End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price tag. Instead, minimize total cost. Move towards 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.( my point here about the ability to switch to and adhoc mode in order to solve a problem within a network of peers and reusing the solution in the formal process is  similar. A kind of personal community PDCA).
  6. Institute training on the job.(P2P learning, microlearning can be a part of it)
  7. Institute leadership.  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.(the facilitating manager of enterprise 2.0, the one who helps his staff, this is a part of the answer to the mid-managers debate initiated by  Lawrence Liu, Fred Zimny)
  8. Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company. (Damaging of management by fear, of lack of trust, another well known issue)
  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.(feedback, bottom-up,problem solving, end of silos..enterprise 2.0 basics)
  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.
  11. a. Eliminate work standards (quotas) on the factory floor. Substitute leadership.
    b. Eliminate management by objective. Eliminate management by numbers, numerical goals. Substitute leadership.
    (resources allocation kills collaboration, need to align appraisals whith expected behaviors…still a common enterprise 2.0 issue)
  12. a. 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.
    b. Remove barriers that rob people in management and in engineering of their right to pride of workmanship.  (Maybe personal branding may also restore pride of workmanship…)
  13. Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement. (Enable people to find the needed information, resources, peers, to improve their work)
  14. Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everybody’s job.(Need to involve everyone, managers has to teach by example, to jump on the bandwagon)

I don’t know what you think about all the above. According to me :

  1. many companies implemented Deming’s theory with significant results. Seeing how it’s close to enterprise 2.0, it proves how useful E20 can be and that there is a ROI. It may also be useful about the “how to” : methods exist, they were already used.
  2. Companies who did that may find enterprise 2.0 tools useful to go further.
  3. Companies that are implementing such things may have a look at enterprise 2.0 knowing that conditions of success are quite the same : if you can do one you can do the other at the same time
  4. this is the perfect example of two worlds wallking on parallel roads and that ignores each other despite they’re going in the same direction and have similar values
  5. I’m still surprised that “quality” has never been an enterprise 2.0 related concept so far.

Bertrand DUPERRINhttps://www.duperrin.com/english
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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