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Davis Balestracci

Management

Before You Abandon Those Resolutions

Remember why you made them in the first place

Published: Thursday, January 16, 2020 - 12:03

Editor’s note: The following browsable offering from Davis Balestracci represents a good chunk of his knowledge base. If you’re looking for improvement ideas, motivation, or a swift kick in the pants for yourself or your team, you’ll find them in this collection of his most popular columns.

In the current “generational handoff” of the quality reins, it’s time to stop recycling and reinventing, and as a result, diluting conventional wisdom. Rather, it’s time for a discriminating, critical eye and developing an ability to change conversations to motivate acting on the diluted bromides. Perhaps one or more of the following will help get those conversations going.

Resolve to Make 2020 a Year of Wisdom Through Simplicity
In spite of the overwhelming odds against me, every new year I firmly resolve to reignite my relentless passion about creating a critical mass of colleagues committed to practicing improvement as “built-in” to cultural DNA using data sanity.

Déjà Vu All Over Again?
I attended what may have been my best conference ever in 1989. One speaker gave a simple criterion for a transformed organization: The words “statistical” and “quality” will have been dropped as qualifiers because they are “givens.” How is your organization doing?

The Old Wisdom Needs New Conversations
Start having honest, collegial conversations about the daily frustrations you tolerate that keep you engaged in frantic activity with little to show, and 1) what you plan to do about it; and 2) how you plan to keep yourself accountable for doing it.

Resolution for 2016: Simplify
(Note that I was saying this stuff four years ago. Gee, what’s changed?) Training programs, completion certificates, or professional credentials are important only to the extent that they contribute to real quality on the ground, as experienced by your customers on a sustained basis.

Conscious Improvement Isn’t for the Faint of Heart
An embedded sense of organizational identity is more powerful than any branding or carefully crafted vision. The resulting culture and its many subcultures (including “quality”) have been created over the life of the organization, many times spanning decades. Each and every interaction is filtered through these established norms, especially when making sense of, and responding to, changing environments. The unplanned, informal dialogues of daily conversations—by water coolers, notice boards, photocopiers; as shifts come on or off or people leave formal briefings—are where a culture makes sense of what it is, shapes itself, and decides its responses to somehow create an identity.

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About The Author

Davis Balestracci’s picture

Davis Balestracci

Davis Balestracci is a past chair of ASQ’s statistics division. He has synthesized W. Edwards Deming’s philosophy as Deming intended—as an approach to leadership—in the second edition of Data Sanity (Medical Group Management Association, 2015), with a foreword by Donald Berwick, M.D. Shipped free or as an ebook, Data Sanity offers a new way of thinking using a common organizational language based in process and understanding variation (data sanity), applied to everyday data and management. It also integrates Balestracci’s 20 years of studying organizational psychology into an “improvement as built in” approach as opposed to most current “quality as bolt-on” programs. Balestracci would love to wake up your conferences with his dynamic style and entertaining insights into the places where process, statistics, organizational culture, and quality meet.