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Post Studying with W. Edwards Deming
Created by John Eipper on 03/16/14 10:29 AM

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Studying with W. Edwards Deming (Henry Levin, USA, 03/16/14 10:29 am)

I have to share a personal note on Deming. (See Tor Guimaraes, 16 March.) I took my undergraduate degree at New York University in Business Administration in the years 1956-60. Frankly, I did this because my father thought that liberal arts studies were impractical and turned young students into Communists. So, I studied business. As a footnote, tuition at NYU was only $954 per academic year, now it's more $46,000 for tuition and fees. Actually, it didn't matter because I had a scholarship.

In any event, business administration was a dreary field in those days, at least for me. The only good thing was that NYU was one of the only business schools that required half of its course requirements to be in the liberal arts (my Dad didn't know this). I loved all the liberal arts class as well as economics and statistics, but not the classes in management, marketing, etc. I was even allowed to take electives in the liberal arts, raising my dosage in those communist subjects to about 65 percent of my studies.

However, two business courses stood out. One was a course on management with Peter Drucker that seemed to be much more a wise man telling interesting stories than a class on time and motion studies and Frederick Taylor. The other was a class on statistics of quality control using a book by the professor, some guy named W. E. Deming. Deming would lecture on the criteria for statistical analysis of production for quality control, but most of the course was about how quality is not an "end of the line issue," but is a design and process issue which must be built in to the manufacturing process, not a check at the end of the line. He complained constantly about the stupidity of General Motors and other US manufacturers in not understanding that. In the fifties the reputation of General Motors and the big manufacturers was so dominant and unquestionable that we didn't know if we had a mad and raving professor or if he was just angry that they refused to take his advice. The rest is history.

JE comments: I love "Brushes with the Greats" WAIS posts. Might Deming have been the very first to point out that business as usual was not going to cut it for US manufacturing? To be sure, GM in the 1950s was like Apple today--omnipotent, haughty, and above all criticism.

It just so happens that Roman Zhovtulya and I are going to visit the Apple campus in an hour's time. I'll ponder these things when we're there.

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  • W. Edwards Deming and Baldrige National Quality Awards (Mike Bonnie, USA 03/17/14 7:58 PM)
    Henry Levin's post of 16 March reminded me of the processes and values of the Deming Application Prize and the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Both recognitions address vocational education. Bettina Lankard Brown points towards the general similarities and differences in the two programs. By evaluation criteria, both internal and external customer satisfaction are paramount.

    "The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recognizes quality improvement among manufacturing, service, and small business [including educational institutions]. The primary goal of the Baldrige Award is customer satisfaction."

    "The Deming Application Prize, established in honor of Dr. W. Edwards Deming, is awarded to companies [including educational institutions] that continually apply Company-Wide Quality Control and have achieved a certain quality standard."


    What piqued my concern about the Baldrige Award was that the 2010 award for education excellence was presented to the Montgomery County, Maryland, school district. Montgomery County is home to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which houses the Baldrige National Quality Program. Montgomery County, located outside Washington DC, is one of the wealthiest counties in the US. My initial impression was that recognizing this particular district appears to be self-serving in a sense, and sets a standard far exceeding the capabilities of most school districts across the country.

    The Montgomery County School District is undoubtedly an excellent district. But, what else should be expected of a district with such advantages? I would hope outstanding acknowledgement will be given to educational institutions that overcome inherent obstacles, exceed and maintain increasing expectations, recognizing educators and students alike. Here is a profile of Montgomery County School District's 2010 accomplishments: http://www.nist.gov/baldrige/award_recipients/mcps_profile.cfm

    In 2013 the Baldrige Award was bestowed on Pewaukee School District, Pewaukee, Wisconsin (a suburb of Milwaukee, where I live). The district comprises four schools that serve 2,449 students in grades pre-Kindergarten through 12. Although Pewaukee could be considered an affluent city, relative to parts of Milwaukee, the district does not have the local resources (a key component of education) available to a school district such as Montgomery County and neighboring Washington, DC.

    Determining which award, the Baldrige Award or Deming Prize, is best or better depends greatly on values. Does customer satisfaction versus continuing development in education mean a tradeoff?

    The Deming Prize for education models the growth of Leander Independent School District (LISD), which is located 25 miles northwest of Austin, Texas. LISD hosted six campuses and 5,000 students in 1991 and today it serves 33,000 students through 37 campuses. Leander showcases the Deming philosophy of management, which began in manufacturing and service and has since expanded to include education.

    Key components of Deming's philosophy, the System of Profound Knowledge® (SOPK), are overcoming obstacles and to "drive out fear" (number 8 of Deming's 14 Points for Management). Fear in my opinion is the most detrimental obstacle to creativity, and creativity is America's greatest asset. LISD, according to reports, has produced outstanding outcomes year after year. Among the accomplishments being recognized: the Leander Independent School District continually excels in key areas of assessment and performance, with scores that are well above the state and national standards. https://www.deming.org/demingtoday/leander

    These areas include:

    1) Closing the performance gap between economically disadvantaged and non-economically disadvantaged students.

    2) Increasing the high school completion rate for all students.

    3) Increasing the percentage of students meeting or exceeding the commended standard on state assessment metrics.

    4) Posting higher PSAT scores (11th Graders) compared to state and national scores in the areas of critical reading, math and writing.

    5) Maintaining low turnover and high retention rates for classroom teachers.

    I dare to state that Milwaukee and Leander have more in common with one another than Montgomery County. Given Wisconsin's social and political climate since 2010 and current perspectives in education discourse, parents of students could learn well from the practices of Montgomery County. Superintendent Jerry Weast answered American Association Superintendents Association (AASA)'s questions about his school division's Baldrige Award:

    Q: How have you established and maintained such a collaborative relationship with your unions?

    A: The short answer is respect. We realize that the leadership of our employee associations have a job to do--they must represent their members zealously. But, we also know that they are motivated by the same goals that we are: providing our students with the best education possible. With that mutual respect for each other, we have been able to engage in interest-based bargaining with our unions and they are a partner in our teacher evaluation system. The union heads attend our Executive Leadership Team meetings and they are part of the team that helps me develop my initial budget recommendation. They have also been a key part of helping us reduce costs and make difficult budget cuts during the economic downturn. Most notably, the unions have voted to forgo their cost of living increases for the past three years, and this has been done with relatively little acrimony.


    JE comments: Wow; it's a talent to deny a pay increase and still maintain employee support.

    Mike Bonnie is a quality-oriented kind of guy; he began an interesting discussion on the Baldrige Award in February 2012:


    A chilly greeting to Mike and WAISworld from the "Biggest Little City in the World," Reno, Nevada.  When I arrived, I was touched to read a "welcome to Reno" e-mail from our colleague Martin Packard.  Thank you, Martin!
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    • Charles Crocker and Mary Deming: Some Railroad History (Norman Tutorow, USA 03/21/14 11:41 AM)
      Following up on Henry Levin's post of 17 March, is W. Edwards Deming related to the Charles Crocker (Central Pacific Railroad) family? Crocker married Mary Deming of Indiana.

      Another thing abut the Deming family. When the Southern Pacific Railroad was building from Yuma to New Orleans, in 1880 Deming, New Mexico, was named by Leland Stanford for the maiden name of Charles Crocker's wife, Mary Deming.

      JE comments: An intriguing question, although I suspect Norman Tutorow knows more railroad history than anyone in WAISworld.

      W. Edwards Deming was born in Sioux City, Iowa, which together with Herbert Hoover and John Wayne, makes him one of the Iowa-born greats. I traversed the state yesterday, and was very impressed by its tidy farms, ubiquitous windmills, and a brief stop in the cute-as-a-button Amana colonies. And the highway rest areas have free Wi-Fi! A most civilized place (Iowans boast the highest literacy rate in the US) that is too often dismissed as "flyover" corn country.

      Speaking of railroads, yesterday morning I visited the Council Bluffs, Iowa mansion of Gen. Grenville Dodge, the founder of Crocker's opposite number, the Union Pacific RR. From the front porch...

      ...you can appreciate the General's commanding view of Omaha across the Missouri, and presumably, the first few hundred miles of his Union Pacific tracks.  Council Bluffs is also home to the Union Pacific Railroad Museum, which unfortunately I didn't have time to visit.

      My three-day drive from Hoover Tower to Council Bluffs followed the original Transcontinental RR for most of the time.  Traversing treacherous mountain and parched desert, I gained a new respect for the magnitude of their achievement.

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      • More Great Iowans (Mary Hilton Huyck, USA 03/22/14 8:14 AM)
        I hope that John Eipper will add my mother's name (Mary Bowie Hilton) to his "Iowa-born greats" list.

        JE comments: Absolutely. To Mary Bowie Hilton we owe an enormous debt of gratitude for the existence of CIIS and WAIS. With the Hispanic American Report and World Affairs Report, our predecessor publications, Mary Bowie Hilton put in as much time as Prof. H. She is very much the matriarch of WAIS.

        Other great Iowans? Grant Wood, Johnny Carson, and the advice sisters Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren.  Or pollster George H. Gallup.  When I mentioned Council Bluffs, Iowa, Paul Pitlick wrote that his mother grew up in nearby Treynor. And if I'm not mistaken, our Chair Emerita Phyllis Gardner was born in Iowa--although please correct me, Phyllis, if I'm wrong.

        For a state of barely 3 million inhabitants, it's an impressive record.  (Compare Iowa's population with the 7 + million who live in the San Francisco Bay Area.)  My theory?  From its beginnings, Iowa has placed a huge emphasis on education.

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