Staying the Course – A lesson from Dilbert about Deming’s Constancy of Purpose

Scott Adams (Dilbert cartoonist) recently posted this comic strip to his Twitter. I love all of Scott’s work but this one really stood out for me because it rings so true in the world of lean. We create plans with the best intentions but then we get interrupted by fire fighting and micro management. How do we stay the course and ensure we spend the time focusing on the things that are important? The first of Deming’s 14 points on for Management comes to mind  – Constancy of Purpose. Constancy of purpose is about leadership driving a consistent message of improvement of the business for the long term. Without constancy of purpose we make decisions based on hitting short term incentives.  Hoshin Kanri and Leaders Standard Work are two lean tools that help us drive constancy of purpose.

Hoshin Kanri ensures that our actions are aligned with our strategic goals. Firefights are inevitable but we should minimize them and try to focus on moving together in the same direction. An x-matrix links together our tactics with our long and short term objectives – if we use this tool effectively, our employees should feel like part of something bigger.

Leaders Standard Work changes management behavior by ensuring we are checking on the processes and not just the results. By doing so, we are focusing on our systems and people and not just the daily financial targets. 

Have you faced challenges with constant interruptions and micromanagement? Has Hoshin or LSW helped you? Share your experiences in the comments!

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