How a mistake made it to governmental policy…
[Though the above Toronto skyline’s just for your viewing pleasure, unrelated to this blog]
These has been quite some discussion about a thing called the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle. Rightly so, since ever since Deming’s groundbreaking work on quality control WITHIN small shop floor level work groups, the understanding of the practical trade of small-group (self!)management has flourished.
But alas! So many sorcerer’s apprentices have ran around like lemmings. And have followed the ill-guided amongst them, over the cliffs edge. They have mixed up Deming’s quality improvement cycle with the generic process control cycle, later applied to administrative management ..!
The disastrous consequences we still have to work with. The demise of management as a craft, the attempts, failed by default from the start, to scientifise management, the blindness for the utter contraproductivity, all can be traced to this error of application out of an error of understanding.
Know your history: The control cycle has its origin in (chemical plant) process control, or even in generic control as elaborated in applied cybernetic systems methodology. Inputs, (mathematical!) transformation function, outputs, and a (mathematical!) first derivative control (signal) function; feed-forwards, feed-backs, input- and output-based signals, multiple levels of these control cycles, it should all be familiar but isn’t, on a pervasive scale.
Which is a pity because it leads to dumb, stupid, design of control cycles and the inclusion of Deming’s quality (improvement) cycle as the name-giver of the resulting management control efforts. Which in turn has led to the stupidest efforts to fit management control actions and controls into the Plan (feasible; most ‘control’-related work stays there, luckily given the dumb and dumber practitioners around), the Do (awkward! managers don’t Do anything at all in Deming’s Do sense!), the Check (auditors’ delight but NOT what Deming intended), and the Act (not understood at all, in the mix-up it’ll be wiped under the Plan carpet!) phases.
But so many wrongs don’t make a right.
Putting the two models together into this atrocious mix, leads to heaps of management babble and a destruction of sound management practices at the hands of culpable consultants (external or internal). The utter waste of money, the utter demise of anything actually productive!
And now the mistke [not intended but I’ll leave it there] reaches its peak: PDCA will be required by government directive as a design principle for (management) control! [In the Netherlands, always preaching against someone else’s sins]
What a failure of administration: To unknowingly admit so publicly one’s incapacity at the scale of an outright sackable offence (by the many that go along with this, too!).
Now, can we all please move forward the consequences of the pervasive sackabillity ..?