Curious Cat: Deming on Management

Deming on eliminating slogans and motivational posters

From Deming's 14 obligations of management:
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.

Deming's objection to motivational posters, slogans, etc. was related the whole view of the job of management. The importance of this obligation is not easy to understand without knowledge of that system of management. The belief that such posters are an effective strategy are grounded in theory x management.

Also the use of such poster is highly correlated with managers that don't understand the processes they are managing and so they attempt simplistic "solutions" like telling everyone to "do a good job" "a happy worker is a busy worker" "avoid accidents" "waste not want not"...

The impact such slogans and posters have on most people (they just make management look stupid) can be seen through the posters at Despair. The same titles used by mangers with a twist, for example: Motivation: If a pretty poster and a cute saying are all it takes to motivate you, you probably have a very easy job. The kind robots will be doing soon.

See our blog posts on this topic: Eliminate Slogans - Stop Demotivating Employees - all Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog post relating to psychology.

My comments on the lean blog post about Toyota using slogan posters:
I think the damage of using slogan for Toyota might be minor. In general slogans are bad for several reason including: demotivating employees, stopping management from taking actual action to improve and making management look stupid.

Since Toyota actually stand behind their slogans with significant and sustained action (a rarity) these problems may be small. Still I think slogans are a bad idea - risky with very little actual benefit (the way they could be claimed to be a benefit is to focus people's minds, but only if they are a part of a system of improvement...).

Most managers using slogans are much more likely to be like Dilbert's pointy haired boss than Toyota. Deming and Dilbert on Slogans (I really do find it annoying that web sites don't follow the web pages must live forever rule so the dilbert strip is a broken link).

Dr. W. Edwards Deming's management ideas have greatly influenced modern management practice. Many quotes and thoughts are attributed to W. Edwards Deming's system of management. Sometimes these represent his ideas accurately, and sometimes they do not. Here I attempt to clearly indicate what he actual said and include some of my thoughts on what he meant.

Deming's Bio | Online Deming Resources | Deming Related Articles, reports, handbooks, etc.

Deming on Management