Deming’s Chain Reaction

Many organizations are simply unable to achieve success since they keep a firefighting attitude towards problems. They try to make progress by manipulating customers with discounts and promotions, bribing employees with unfounded promises and implementing Wizard’s of Oz technology that auto-magically will solve everything, but they are just working in a failure chain reaction as depicted below:

This failure chain reaction is without a doubt the mode in which many organizations still work today. They may be more or less advanced through the chain, but whether they know it or not, if they don’t change they are doomed for failure. By not taking care of the day to day of the operations they are steadily eroding the motivation of their people and increasing their frustration and stress levels. This will lead to increased inefficiency which in turn will decrease commitment with people either leaving the company or engaging less and less. This obviously leads to problems not being solved and new ones piling up which will further demotivate people in a vicious circle, all of this resulting in a decrease of profitability and the eventual disappearance of the organization.

But all this is reversible by following a success chain reaction:

By taking care of the day to day of their operations, organizations can boost the motivation of their people and therefore foster collaboration and new problem solving ideas that will lead to higher efficiency. This creates a virtuous circle whereby costs are reduced and quality is improved, leading to higher customer and employee satisfaction which results in increased profitability and sustainability over time.

Although the concept behind the chain reaction seems to be common sense and, a slightly different version, was published by W. Edwards Deming 50 years ago, most organizations keep failing at it. Leaders need to stop firefighting patching their organization and understanding this chain reaction to start focusing on what truly matters: Managing the organization as a system where value is only created by motivated people collaborating together through efficient processes that they themselves contribute to build. Dedicate your attention to this and quality, customers and profitability will just follow; fail to do it and your organization won’t survive for too long.


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