Taylor Vs Deming and Software Development - Part 1

Posted by Kevin Brady on Mon 25th September 2006 at 12:49 PM, Filed in Software Dev Methodologies

I am sure many of my regular readers are aware of the huge number of comments and long running dialogue concerning my post Agile Fails to Get to Grips with Human Psychology.

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Chaplin’s “Modern Times”


Recently one of my regular commenter’s decided to bring up an age old argument of Systems versus Individuals or better known as Taylor Vs Deming. I am conscious that a post working through my opinion on this age old argument is something more befitting a book rather than a short blog post, and as such I am in danger of over simplifying a very complex issue and it’s relevance to the software industry.

For those unfamiliar with this intellectually stimulating argument, here is a distillation of the Taylor Vs Deming view points.

Taylorism –

Taylor’s own name for his approach was scientific management and was first mentioned in his book “The Principles of Scientific Management” published in 1911. He believed in task-oriented optimization of work tasks and is nearly ubiquitous today in menial industries, most notably in assembly lines and fast-food restaurants. His arguments began from his observation that, in general, workers in repetitive jobs work at the slowest rate when this slow rate of work is left unpunished. This slow rate of work (which he called “soldiering”, but might nowadays be termed “loafing” or “malingering” as a typical part of a day’s work), he opined, was a combination of the inherent laziness of people and the observation that, when paid the same amount, workers tended to gravitate in terms of their productivity to the levels achieved by the person with the lowest output in the group. Taylor taking this into account proposed that work related tasks tended to develop into inefficient practices over time. From this he hypothesized that if workers were taught the best way to perform a particular task their productivity would go up. Today, this is often referred to as time and motion studies. Combining this belief with production line techniques pioneered by Henry Ford and you see the essence of Taylorism and his impact on the industrial history of the world.

For more detail on this extract please read the following Wikipedia webpage

Deming –

William Edwards Deming (October 14, 1900 – December 20 1993) was an American statistician, college professor, author, lecturer, and consultant. Deming is perhaps best known for his work in Japan. There, from 1950 onward he taught top management how to improve design (and thus service), product quality, testing and sales (the latter through global markets). Deming made a significant contribution to Japan becoming renowned for producing innovative high-quality products.

Deming’s management teachings in contrast to Taylor can be summarised in the context of his 14 key principles of management for transforming business effectiveness:-

1. Create constancy of purpose for the improvement of product and service, with the aim to become competitive, stay in business, and provide jobs.

2. Adopt a new philosophy of cooperation (win-win) in which everybody wins and put it into practice by teaching it to employees, customers and suppliers.

3. Cease dependence on mass inspection to achieve quality. Instead, improve the process and build quality into the product in the first place.

4. End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price tag alone. Instead, minimize total cost in the long run. Move toward a single supplier for any one item, based on a long-term relationship of loyalty and trust.

5. Improve constantly, and forever, the system of production, service, planning, of any activity. This will improve quality and productivity and thus constantly decrease costs.

6. Institute training for skills.

7. Adopt and institute leadership for the management of people, recognizing their different abilities, capabilities, and aspiration. The aim of leadership should be to help people, machines, and gadgets do a better job. Leadership of management is in need of overhaul, as well as leadership of production workers.

8. Drive out fear and build trust so that everyone can work more effectively.

9. Break down barriers between departments. Abolish competition and build a win-win system of cooperation within the organization. People in research, design, sales, and production must work as a team to foresee problems of production and use that might be encountered with the product or service.

10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets asking for zero defects or 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. Eliminate numerical goals, numerical quotas and management by objectives. Substitute leadership.

12. Remove barriers that rob people of joy in their work. This will mean abolishing the annual rating or merit system that ranks people and creates competition and conflict.

13. Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement.

14. Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everybody’s job.

For more detail on this extract please read the following Wikipedia webpage

Being a qualified economist I am very familiar with the Taylorism Vs Deming argument and personally try to bend towards the Deming side of things as far as possible up to the point where the lack of controls /constraints actually starts to deliver negative productivity and issues to do with quality. Years of painful experience with my own projects / programmes of work as well as watching / mentoring and auditing others has taught me where this point of negative returns starts to take effect. This is usually where the freedoms and interests of the individual starts to:-

• Interfere with the cohesiveness and thus the productivity of the group / team.

• Creates a firm within a firm situation where the business / organisation / project or programme is run for the benefit of the staff involved and not the stakeholders or customers. The best examples of this are heavily unionised industries.

Click here to view Part 2

 

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READER COMMENTS:

Hi Kevin,

You describe Deming:

2William Edwards Deming (October 14, 1900 – December 20 1993) was an American statistician, college professor, author, lecturer, and consultant. Deming is perhaps best known for his work in Japan. There, from 1950 onward he taught top management how to improve design (and thus service), product quality, testing and sales (the latter through global markets). Deming made a significant contribution to Japan becoming renowned for producing innovative high-quality products….”

And Wikipedia:

“William Edwards Deming (October 14, 1900 - December 20, 1993) was an American statistician, college professor, author, lecturer, and consultant. Deming is widely credited with improving production in the United States during World War II, although he is perhaps best known for his work in Japan. There, from 1950 onward he taught top management how to improve design (and thus service), product quality, testing and sales (the latter through global markets).[1] Deming made a significant contribution to Japan’s becoming renowned for producing innovative high-quality products…”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._Edwards_Deming

When you don’t reference your sources it is known as plagarism.

I’ve got it, this site is a sad joke. The sad part is that people are taking you seriously.

No wonder that the Software Industry is a bad as it is if you can get away with this!!

Paul.

Posted by Paul Beckford  on Mon 2nd October 2006 at 06:50 PM | #

Thanks Paul for pointing this out. In my haste I forgot to link back which is the requirement under the Wikipedia Copyrights: 

“The license Wikipedia uses grants free access to our content in the same sense as free software is licensed freely. That is to say, Wikipedia content can be copied, modified, and redistributed so long as the new version grants the same freedoms to others and acknowledges the authors of the Wikipedia article used (a direct link back to the article satisfies our author credit requirement)”

I believe that as you have kindly provided the link back, this article now satisifes copyright. Although, I believe most people would have the common sense to realise that this is a well worn Deming description that even the wiki has rehashed from elsewhere.   

Paul - it saddens me that you have to resort to pedantry and insults. You seem to have some deep rooted issues that make me feel a little sorry for you.

One further thing. It is pretty bad form to attempt to deface someone elses blog. That kind of thing gets you a bad reputation on the web.

Also comments of a defamatory or vicious nature benefit nobody - I hope you can see that in time.

Posted by Kevin  on Mon 2nd October 2006 at 07:44 PM | #

Hi Kevin,

Don’t feel sorry for me, Just reference your sources.

The great thing about the web is free speech. I have worked you out. Your motives are clear to me now, so no more easy ride.

Mis-information spreads like a cancer if not challenged. So I will continue to challenge you!

Paul.

Posted by Paul Beckford  on Mon 2nd October 2006 at 08:03 PM | #

Challenge away - free speech and criticism is what it’s all about. 

But to be crystal clear:

Your IP address will be blocked and you will be banned from this site if you again attempt to deface content, use personal insults or highly inflammatory language. I fear that you may have a reputation for this sort of thing which is ultimately of no consequence to me - just stick to reasoned debate and you’ll be alright.

I have also warned Mr Hayden of this and some of his comments have already been removed. 

You have the oxygen to air your views here, don’t abuse it!

All the best.

Kevin

PS you have submitted duplicate comments on this site with external links (otherwise known as comment spamming) - as per our policy “purely promotional comments will be removed” as a compromise these comments will be reduced to one comment, on one post.

Posted by Kevin  on Mon 2nd October 2006 at 08:33 PM | #

Hi Kevin,

“Defamatory content removed.”

The duplicate posting was an honest mistake. I intended to respond to your article Taylor vs Deming - the copy I intended was the one on Taylor and Deming Part2 you can delete the others.

Paul.

Posted by Paul Beckford  on Mon 2nd October 2006 at 08:56 PM | #

Thanks Paul - apology accepted and understood.

However, defamatory remarks have and will be removed. Stick to “reasoned debate” about the topics in hand please.

Thanks

Posted by Kevin  on Mon 2nd October 2006 at 09:05 PM | #

Mr Beckford has made some good points on other articels within this blog.

However, does he really have nothing better to do than pull people up for petty copyright errors? 

If you trawled through the archives of just about any blog on the net, even the most respected and popular ones you will find countless small infringements. Yes it’s very important to keep these to a minimum,
I have had content stolen and plagiarised myself. Very annoying to say the least, but if Mr Beckford is painting himself as never having made a incorrect attribution or link back then he is unfortunately deluding himself and others.

Posted by Simon Fawcett  on Tue 3rd October 2006 at 08:46 AM | #

If everyone else has to be forced to make a reference for an idea that has been said or posted before, i think we might end up making references to Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.

We all repackage ideas and candy-coat most of them. Most Wiki does and most fails to acknowledge sources.

Ideas rehashed or not, if they are good ideas, are worth reading.

Posted by joan  on Fri 26th September 2008 at 04:53 AM | #

Hi Kevin Nice Article Actually i am new in your Commenter list but after reading the discussion it’s seem very Interesting platform and want to be a regular member of discussion. actually i am well connected to Software Development and want to learn more and more and i thought that is the right place for me.

Tanks
MAG Studiso

Posted by MagStudios  on Fri 13th February 2009 at 01:51 PM | #

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