(Image via Forbes) Recently, Industry Week published an article by John Dyer entitled "Does Management by Objectives Stifle Excellence?" It's an intriguing article that challenges today's goal-focused management culture and implies that goals and metrics can sometimes get in the way of breakthrough thinking. Eliminating 'management by numbers and numerical goals' was one of W. Edward Deming's 14 points from his seminal quality book "Out of the Crisis" first published in 1982.
When I worked for Ford Motor Company earlier in my career, I had the amazing opportunity to be trained by the legendary Dr. W. Edwards Deming, regarded as one of the world’s most influential leaders in promoting high quality management, evidence-based business practices, and exploring long-term, qualitative approaches to achieving business goals.
Dr. Deming was hugely ahead of his time, with the majority of his material out before many people had ever heard of terms like “conscious leadership,” or were even considering the impact that different management styles and company standards could have on overall productivity.
Plenty of Dr. Deming’s teachings are still extremely relevant today, but for some reason, their adoption isn’t nearly as ubiquitous as it should be.
Among his greatest contributions to the world of managerial training are fourteen key principles for transforming business effectiveness, first written in his book Out of Crisis in 1986.
Many of these principles focus on removing barriers to employee engagement (again, far ahead of its time), calling for the substitution of ineffective quotas and unreachable standards with motivational leadership and a sense of pride in the work being done.
He posed that “Management By Objective” was counterproductive to success, that holding employees to numerical goals actually decreases quality and fosters dissent.
The alternative, management through positive reinforcement, collaboration, and an understanding of human psychology, provides a much more fulfilling and engaging workplace.
It has been two decades since Dr. Deming passed away, and still his principles and teachings are indelibly relevant to the challenges that many businesses face today.
His concepts were ages ahead of their time, and yet so many companies are still struggling to catch up.