Quotes To Ponder
TWI Learning Partnership
"If you can't desccribe what you are doing as a process, you don't know what you are doing."
-W. Edwards Deming
Comments: Every time we do something we are using a process. We may not be cognizant of it, but it is there nevertheless. Learning how to verbalize that process, i.e. to explain what we are doing, is the first step in teaching. In order to teach someone how to do something, we must first put the process into words. Once that has been done, we can say that we 'know' what we are doing. Until we can do that, we cannot really say that we 'know' what we are doing, even though we do it.
I tell everyone that everything we do has a process and that when you write down that process, you can instruct someone in how to do the task with JIT and can improve that task with JMT. Some people reply that their jobs do not have a process. These are jobs like troubleshooting or many tasks in management. So I was glad when I came upon Mr. Deming's quote, since it supported my statement. However, I believe it could be amended to read: "If you can't describe what you are doing in a process, you don't know what you are doing; or you don't know how to write a process.
"This is the foundation for The Toyota Way of learning - standardization punctuated by innovation, which gets translated into new standards.
-Jeffrey Liker, The Toyota Way, McGraw Hill, 2004
Comments: Although it's not explicitly stated, Standardization is brought about by JIT and Innovation is enabled with JMT. Therefore the Kaizen cycle of continual improvement is JIT followed by JMT which is in turn followed by JIT.
"Training content must come from evidence of need."
-Training Within Industry Program Development Manual - 1944
Comments: People often ask how to justify training, but there really should be no question. Training should not be done for the sake of training, but rather to solve a problem. If there is no need for training, it should not be done. Satisfaction of the need justifies the training. Perhaps it is because many people do not know this that training is often misused.
"It's not so much that we're afraid of change or so in love with the old ways, but it's that place in between that we fear...It's like being in between trapezees. It's Linus when his blanket is in the dryer. There's nothing to hold on to."
-Marilyn Ferguson, American Futurist
Comments: People are not afraid of change; they are afraid of the unknown. People do not dislike change; they dislike actions that cause them pain. We do get comfortable in a set way of doing things, but it's really because change can bring pain or unhappiness. If what is going to happen will bring us pleasure, we welcome change. If we know what the change will entail, we will be less afraid of it.
"You must remember this. A kiss is just a kiss. A sigh is just a sigh. The fundamental things apply, as time goes by."
-Herman Hupfeld (1931)
Comments: There are some ideas in this world that are universal. They are fundamental and thus apply to all people in all activities. How we learn and how we act are some of those, The TWI "J" Programs capture some fundamental ideas and that's why they have remained useful over 70 years.
"Restlessness is discontent - and discontent is the first necessity of progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man - and I will show you a failure."
-Thomas Edison, (From the book The Evolution of Useful Things by Henry Petroski)
Comments: A thoroughly satisfied person is one who stops trying to improve. Once that happens, s/he could be considered to have failed.
"Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail."
Comments: It is interesting to realize that for thousands of years we have known humans often fail when they attempt something; yet whenever we fail, it often comes as a surprise to us. The true measure of a person is not that they fail (since everyone does), but what they do afterwards.
"If you want to succeed, double your failure rate."
-Thomas Watson Founder of IBM, [From "The Drunkard's Walk"; Pantheon Books, New York, 2008]
Comments: This is a theme, restated, that is repeated by many successful and well-known people. As we get older we appreciate this more. The young seem to believe that all things are either easy or impossible. We must keep trying, keep practicing, keep rehearsing and keep failing if we want to succeed. Most things are possible if we try, but the caveat is that trying only once is not enough. Do an honest appraisal to determine if the task is doable and then keep trying. Pay attention to the failures because you will learn from them what you should not do.
"But ability does not guarantee achievement, nor is achievement proportioinal to ability. And so it is important to always keep in mind the other term in the equation - the role of chance."
-Leonard Mlodinow, [From "The Drunkard's Walk"; Pantheon Books, New York, 2008; p217]
Comments: Have you ever seen someone in a job and wondered how they could have gotten it because you know them to be incompetent? Have you ever gotten to know someone and then wondered why s/he hasn't done more with their life because you know they have many talents and desires? We all have goals and abilities and it is nice to think that we can do anything we want if we try hard enough. The brutal truth is that there are many factors besides determination and ability that must be in play before we achieve some goals. One of these is luck - the role of chance.
"Soft Skills are hard."
Comments: For many years the skills in dealing with people were thought of as unnecessary for managers to learn. They were not discussed much in business schools and were relegated to psychology programs. If someone wanted to become a successful manager, s/he must learn finance, sales, and operations. Everything else was secondary and could easily be picked up as you went along. That may have been true at the beginning of the 20th century when industrial growth was just getting started in a big way. People were grateful to have a job and would put up with much mental abuse. Some enlightened managers knew that productivity is optimized when employees are respected and treated fairly as is evidenced by the JRT Program and other writings by members of the TWI Service. They, however, wee in the minority. As more and more people began to agree with this concept they have begun to realize that not only are people skills necessary, but they are not easy. Machines and products change but usually with some predictability and at a relatively slow pace. People, on the other hand, are all different and are changing constantly and in a seemingly random fashion. People skills are much more difficult to learn and effect than are the technical skills.
"If you only care enough for a result, you will almost certainly attain it."
Comments: This is a version of "If at first you don't succeed, etc." Although that is generally true, the statement deserves much discussion. Often we don't know what our limits are. Sometimes they are greater or less than we think they are. That leads to failure when we should have succeeded or frustration when we fail legitimately.
"We are told never to cross a bridge until we come to it, but this world is owned by men who have 'crossed bridges' in their imagination far ahead of the crowd."
Comments: There is a fine line between thinking ahead and thinking too far ahead. Another well worn quote is "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." But how much should you plan? Some people think so far ahead that they lose sight of today and what is happening now. There is no precise answer to the question of how much to plan. We must constantly check both the future and the present to make sure we are accomplishing what we have to today, while being prepared for tomorrow.
"One man with courage is a majority."
Comments: It is not that one person can do everything, but one person with courage and conviction can lead others to accomplish great (or disasterous) activities. A great leader may be willing to do everything, but s/he knows that great actions usually require the cooperation of many. Having the vision and the charisma to lead others to great actions is what makes a leader.
"Fear is born of ignorance and is used as a weapon or a policy. Combat fear with knowledge - easier said than done."
-Donald A. Dinero
Comments: I said this in response to a comment from a colleague who said he was tired of failure that is attributed to fear. Dr. W.Edwards Deming listed Fourteen Obligations of Top Management and one of those was "Drive Out Fear." I know many managers believe there is not much fear in the workplace, but in my opinion there is. We become afraid when something disasterous is about to happen which we don't want to happen. In the workplace, however, there are usually options we can choose to change a sitution, but often we do not know what they are. We are afraid of the unknown and knowledge of that unknown can reduce of limit that fear.
“Success on any major scale requires you to accept responsibility… in the final analysis, the one quality that all successful people have…is the ability to take on responsibility.”
Comments: It seems to me that this is a more important statement than it appears at first glance. I suggest that today people want success without taking responsibility for their actions. When they try something and it fails, it's always someone else's fault and they want to gain by shifting blame. If you recognize that you are "the captain of your ship" then you will realize that when you fail, you must analyze the situation, take correcive action and try again. Although that's more work than shifting blame, it's also more productive.
"One doesn't discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time."
-Andre Gide, French novelist
Comments: People might be more comfofrtable with uncertainty if they viewed it as a vehicle for discovery. When we do not know what is about to happen,, we often learn something which we had no intention of knowing. Sometimes that can be beneficial. We often want to know much of what is going on around us when we embarck in a new direction, but that can be a detriment to creativity and imagination.
"...ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert - in anything."
-David Levitin - neurologist; as quoted in Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
Comments: Ten thousand hours is equivalent to 40 hours a week for 50 weeks a year for five years. When we talk about achieving mastery in something, we are talking about a skill such as playing golf, writing novels, solving math problems, performing brain surgery, etc. In addition, when we talk about a specific skill, for example playing golf, we are actually talking about the individual tasks that make up the entire game. Thus, the game of golf includes hitting a ball off the tee for the initial drive, driving out of various hazards, putting, etc. Aside from breathing, no one does any of thes activities for 40 hours a week. A professional golfer might spend three hours a day driving a ball off a tee. If he does that for five days a week, he will accumulate 10,000 hours after 13 1/3 years. He will achieve mastery after that time only if he gets corrective feedback from a coach. If he doesn't and keeps on repeating the same mistakes, he may never reach mastery. When you find out how experts in their fields spend their time, you will realize that people like Lebron James (basketball), Tiger Woods (golf), Tommy Dorsey (trombone) and others have spent most of their days practicing their craft.
"The TWI programs are distinctive, not because of the accepted principles of good management that they cover, but because they are successful in getting these used."
-Alan Robinson & Dean Schroeder; CA Management Review article, 1993
Comments: The TWI Programs are still successful after 70 years because they contain basic principles of adult learning and they are very succinct. Many people attempt to improve them and modifications can be made, but the core material must remain the same becaise it is fundamental. Too often newer programs try to do too much and do not give the participant the freedom or opportunity to use his own creativity to accomplish objectives.
"But if I had a dozen toolmakers I'd bet you'd give me a warmer reception. I don't have the toolmakers, but I have something that will help you get along without them."
-Rome Collin - introducing JIT to a corporation president - 1942
Comments: This quote underlines what TWI is all about and it answers Frederick Taylor's quote, which appeared here last. We will never find the ideal people we want to do a job and thus we must train them. We should look for the best people we can, but we should also realize that everybody will need some training.
“What we are all looking for, however, is the readymade, competent man; the man whom someone else has trained. It is only when we fully realize that our duty, as well as our opportunity, lies in systematically cooperating to train and to make this competent man, instead of in hunting for a man whom someone else has trained, that we shall be on the road to national efficiency.”
-Principles of Scientific Management, Frederick Winslow Taylor, 1911
Comments: When concepts are repeated throughout the years, we should start paying attention to them. Taylor is sometimes criticized for his "Scientific Management" ideas, but the idea above is repeated within the TWI Service (1940's) and Toyota believes it today. No one will ever be exactly what we want and so some training is always necessary. What many people don't realize is that before some of that training can take place, the individual usually must "unlearn" some habits from their previous employer. The overall cost is usually much higher to hire a new person than it is to retrain an existing employee. Some people are finally learning this in our recent economic downturn. Instead of laying off employees, the are retaining them and, if necessary, retraining them. This is also a good time to train them for other skills or to improve their existing skills. Developing the workforce this way makes the organization significantly stronger in skills and allegiance. Naturally, it is not good for an organization to become too inbred, but most organizations should take more responsibility for training than they do, since you can't buy everything.
"Ability is what you are capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it."
-Lou Holtz, football coach
Comments: Mr Holtz sums it up quite succintly.
"Success is an illusion when you confuse work with performance."
Comments: Too often people work hard and do not really think about what they are doing. Because they have worked hard, they often believe they should be compensated for their efforts. If they have not added value, they may not be rewarded and this can cause disagreements. Before we engage in a task for which we expect compensation, we should always make sure we understand the value we are expected to add and the requirements for that value.
“Education lays the foundation of a large portion of the causes of mental disorder."
- Edward Jarvis, US Commissioner of Education, 1871
(Jarvis had studied 1,741 cases of insanity and concluded that “over-study” was responsible for 204 of them.)
Comments: It is interesting how our thinking changes over the years. "In the education journals of the day, there were constant worries about overtaxing students or blunting their natural abilities through too much schoolwork." Horance Mann, perhaps better known, was part of this thinking. To see such a dramatic shift in thinking in just 138 years should give us pause to realize that many of today's "absolute truths" should be given deeper thought. [This quote and the above are from Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell, Little Brown, 2008.]
“Success, in a generally accepted sense of the term, means the opportunity to experience and to realize to the maximum, the forces that are within you.”
Comments: Everyone has their own idea of what success is, which results in people succeeding at various objectives. I could post many more definitions of success and they would all seem reasonable, but they might not all be acceptable to you as a definition you would follow.
"In order to succeed we must first think we can."
Comments: This goes along with Henry Ford's quote that appeared here a week ago. One point that should be made is that in a group environment, not everyone must think the task can be accomplished as long as the leader does. Often we are assigned a seemingly impossible task to find out that we could do it after all. However, if the leader does not not know that the task can be accomplished but wants to "stretch" the people's abilities, s/he must be ready to accept that the task actually is not possible if they do not accomplish it. In order for that to happen, the leader must have confidence in his/her people and believe that they have tried their hardest.
"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you must stop and look fear in the face...you must do the thing you think you cannot do."
Comments: The underlying presumption is that we will be allowed to fail. This must be true because humans cannot succeed every time they try something. The realty is that many people will not accept faiilure in others, perhaps because they see it as a weakness. Although, I believe it is generally known that people must try something that they do not know they can do in order to grow, failure is often seen as stagnation or loss instead of growth.
“Whether you think you can or think you can’t – you are right.”
Comments: Henry may not have been the first person to say this, but he has probably been quoted more than any one else regarding it. This goes to attitude and desire. When research is done on succes and we surely do not want to "die trying," but often we underestimate of what we are capable. The key is knowing our own capabilities and that is very difficult to do.
“Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.”
-John Homer Miller
Comments: Attitude is everything, but this doesn't mean that you have to walk around acting like a pollyanna. We have to recognize the good and the bad in events, but we should not start thinking the sky is falling. Bad things happen to everyone. Successful people have the atitude that recognizes that and drives them to turn "lemons into lemonaide."
"Training is not a function that you can delegate. You can get help, but the best training man in your plant is the president of that company — he has to train his organization."
-Walter Dietz, In a speech October 16, 1943
Comments: Many people view training as a formalized process where a trainer is instructing a trainee how to do a specific task such as operating a drill press or entering a purchase order. In its truest sense, training should be considered as the act of transferring knowledge. Considered in those terms, one can realize that any one who gives instructions to another is, in effect, delivering training. That is why training should be considered as the responsibility of all supervisors, whether they are the CEO or on the assembly line.
"Don’t, whatever you do, go into another plant talk to Mr. XYZ, and come back to your plant with a ready-made training program - it will not fit your company. Unless a training program meets current needs, it is no good, it won’t work."
-Walter Dietz, In a speech October 16, 1943
Comments: This is true not only of training but also of all other management tools and techniques. Basic principles can be carried from one organization to another, but attempting to transfer more than that usually results in less than desired results. The simple reason for this is that organizations are composed of individuals with unique personalities. Various personalities result in various behaviors, which in turn result in various cultures.
"— real training is done by the operating force. This responsibility for training cannot be delegated. If management tries to escape this responsibility it means that so-called training becomes an employee activity — very interesting, a builder of good will — but it doesn't’t produce results.
-Walter Deitz, in a speech October 16, 1943
Comments: Management often thinks training is a function of the "training department," but in a broad sense, training is the transfer of knowledge and thus management's responsibility and duty. If it is not driven and monitored by management, it won't have the desired outcomes.
"You cannot separate supervision and training any more than you can separate living and breathing. When you stop living, you stop breathing and when you stop breathing, you stop living. It is the same with supervision and training — whenever you supervise you train."
-Walter Deitz, in a speech October 16, 1943
Comments: Training is an integral part of supervision, whether done formally or informally.
"Three qualities that work has to have to be satisfying: autonomy, complexity, connection between effort and reward."
-Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers, Little, Brown, 2008
Comments: Consider this when you see someone who is not performing well or who does not like his/her job. Autonomy means the person has some control over what s/he does. Complexity means that it must be mentally challenging with respect to the individual's abilities. Connection between effort and reward means that the person must see some purpose in what s/he does and that should match what they are given for the task.
"Just as there are no little people or unimportant lives,, there is no insignificant work."
Comments: In step I of Job Instruction Training, we prepare the worker and one action we take is to explain the importance of the job. Every job is important or we shouldn't be doing it. Jobs will vary in degree of difficulty and skill level required, but each is required in order to accomplish our task.
"Don't try to be a great man. Just be a man and let history make its own judgment."
-Commander Riker, "Star Trek, The Second Generation" Television Series (quote contributed by Jim Huntzinger)
Comments: Sometimes we try too hard and lose sight of the objective. We should do our best and strive to do what is right and the consequences will be appropriate.
"Every choice we make allows us to manipulate the future."
-John Luc Picard, "Star Trek, The Second Generation" Television Series
Comments: I think this is a different way of looking at the choices we make. While some think that our future is written, others believe it is what we make of it. Thinking of manipulating the future also gives one a sense of power, which is what, in fact, we have.
"In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins - not through strength but by perserverance."
-H. Jackson Brown
Comments: There is much to be said for just hanging on and not giving up. The question always is: How do you know if what you are doing is at all productive or if it is fruitless? Look to see if you're making any progress at all, consider your alternatives and turn away only if you know the alternative is more beneficial.
"If there is no transformation inside each of us, all the structural change in the world will have no impact on our institutions."
-Peter Block, Stewardship, p.77
Comments: When we think of productivity changes (or any changes for that matter), the first thing we think to do is to change what we do. Real change happens only when we change how we think, and that is the most difficult change of all.
"Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare."
-A Japanese Proverb
Comments: Which is why the person who possesses both vision and action is so highly valued.
"There are two ways to slice easily through life; to believe everything or to doubt everything. Both ways save us from thinking."
-Alfred Korzybski - Polish-American Linguist (1879-1950)
Comments: Thinking and questioning requires effort which is why they are so often avoided.
"Service out of obligation is co-dependency and a disguised form of control. Service that fully satisfies is done with no expectation of return, and is freely chosen."
-Peter Block, Stewardship, p 236.
Comments: Stewardship, as defined by Peter Block, is a management style of serving others, particularly the employees who work "for" a manager. In addition, he adds that this service should be done freely or it just becomes another form of control.
"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
-(Paraphrase) Benjamin Franklin (c) 1776
Comments: This quotation is directed at the Bush administration which seems to be using the war against terrorism as an excuse to reduce American freedoms. Tours of the White House have been suspended until further notice, terrorists are to be tried in secret tribunals where they may or may not have a lawyer. It seems that what we're fighting for is very important until our back is against the wall and then we follow what our enemy does. Democracy and maintaining personal liberties are not easy concepts to follow and we should not follow them only when it is convenient to do so.
"Company Policy' means there's no understandable reason for this action."
-Herbert V. Prochnow, American writer
Comments: This makes the assumption that if you can't explain it, there's no reason for it. Underlying that is the concept that company policies should be simple enough for everyone in the company to understand.
"Management by objectives works if you know the objectives. Ninety percent of the time you don't."
-Peter Drucker, management expert
Comments: They don't tell you that when you buy the book. Many of the management fads have some practical application, but it's the application that's difficult.
"They have to shift from command and control to something newer - something more horizontal, more team oriented with more accountability and less hierarchy."
-J. Edward Russo, Professor of Marketing & Behavioral Science, Cornell University's Johnson Graduate School of Management (Rochester Democrat & Chronicle 10/28/01; pp1A & 10A)
Comments: The shift about which Russo is speaking is well described in Stewardship by Peter Block. What makes this quote exciting is not that it's true or even that a professor at a leading university said it. It's exciting because the quote appeared on the FRONT page of a newspaper. The article was titled "Executives at the Big 3 catch flak from critics". Note that the "Big 3" are the three largest industrial corporations in Rochester, NY. Jim Collins, who is described as a "management expert" says that "harsh times should not become an excuse for a company that does not achieve success." He goes on to say "...a company does not go from good to great with a technology solution." What is needed is a change in culture where leaders enable the employees who do the work to determine how it should be done. A CEO cannot depend on technology to solve the company's problems. The culture of the company must be such that employees are enabled to maximize their potentials to solve these problems.
"[Unlike] a hundred years ago...the approved view today is that an intrinsic interest in the activity regardless of ulterior consequences is an enormously superior means of learning."
-Edward L. Thorndike, 1935
Comments: The quote was found on page 142 of Punished By Rewards by Alfie Kohn. Seeing that the quote is dated 66 years ago, one wonders if that thinking is actually a change or if people always believed that having an intrinsic interest in a subject is a superior means of learning that subject.
"When all think alike, no one thinks very much."
-Walter Lippmann, American Journalist
Comments: Perhaps the reason the world has so many different languages, religions, and forms of government is to make people think. Without thinking, there can be no improvement.
"...companies that continually increased productivity had learned to pay attention to processes."
-Jacquie Vierling-Huang, Manager of Work-Out and Change Acceleration, GE Crotonville
(from The Dance of Change, Peter Senge, Doubleday, New York, 1999, p.78)
Comments: This is a reoccurring theme. The most common analogy is that of improving one's productivity on the golf course. Don't focus on getting the ball into the hole. Focus on keeping your head down, swinging through the ball, etc. Manage and improve the processes and the goal will be achieved.
"Non-violence is the first article of faith"
Comments: for those terrorists who use God and their religion as an explanation for their acts.
"...talents (or skills or strengths) are not the key issue, even if they are relevant. Rather, what is important is what inspires persistence and determination - in other words, what you care about. Don't worry about what you're good at. If something turns you on, you'll be good enough. If it doesn't, you won't. Your strengths are irrelevant: What you like is critical."
-True Professionalism, David H. Maister, p 31.
Comments: This, I believe, is a true key to success. Quoting Maister again from the same chapter, "Success comes from doing what you enjoy. If you don't enjoy it, how can it be called success?" We don't spend enough time on career development with the result that many people labor at jobs they really don't like. If they chose an occupation they liked, they could earn a livelihood at something about which they are passionate. Many people think this is not possible and so do not put much effort into trying. The truth is, it is possible, but it takes a lot of work. There is also a paradox in that people think their likes and dislikes should be obvious to them when actually, it requires significant introspection to actually know what one likes.
"We understand that the only competitive advantage the company of the future will have is its managers' ability to learn faster than their competitors."
-Arie de Geus, from "Planning as Learning" in the Harvard Business Review,1988
Comments: I found this quote on page 22 of The Dance of Change by Peter Senge. Although the word 'manager ' is used, the implication is that all people in organizations must think and learn in order for that organization to be successful. We are beyond the point where we can afford to hire people - at any level - for their 'hands' alone. Every employee must contribute by thinking. The requirement, then, is for managers to listen to and take action on those thoughts.
"[Rewards] have effects that interfere with performance in ways that we are only beginning to understand."
-Janet Spence 1971 as quoted in "Punished By Rewards" by Alfie Cohen
Comments: This quote begins to state the thesis of Mr. Cohen's book. He shows that rewards are detrimental to performance by decreasing productivity, creativity and initiative. Many people disagree with this thesis although he supports it with extensive research. Although rewards are useful in some circumstances (teaching a dog a new trick or getting a person to perform a task once or twice), I believe people do not want to accept his thesis for two reasons:
- Our society is so entrenched in reward systems that thinking about living without them is traumatic.
- It is much easier to use a reward system than it is to create an environment where people are intrinsically motivated.
"You are what you think about."
Comments: Earl Nightingale states in his audio tape "The Strangest Secret" that this theme has been repeated throughout history. Although it may seem like common sense, it appears that many people miss the point. Career counselors focus on this concept when they interview and test candidates. The main objective is to find out what the person thinks about most often since that will be, most likely, what the person likes the best and consequently may be vary capable of doing.
"Creativity is the marriage of passion and logic."
-Jerry Hirsberg, The Creative Priority
Comments: In order for creativity to exist, a person must have a strong desire to do something and also have some knowledge about how to do it. These two must be balanced, I believe, because if one is much stronger than the other new ideas won't occur as easily.
"If truth were self-evident, eloquence would not be necessary."
Comments: Communication is often cited as one of the main problems in the business world, yet most people do not spend time learning how to speak and write with clarity. Why should they, after all, since they know what they mean!
"I'm not smarter than anyone else. I just think about things more."
Comment: This may have been one of the few times Mr. Einstein was incorrect. Most people would agree that his was one of the best minds in history. His quote was reinforced by Earl Nightingale in his treatise entitled "The Strangest Secret". The thesis is that we are what we think about. The more we think about something, the more we know about it and thus the better we are at doing it. After a while, we will be known by what we think about most.