Point 12 – Deming in Project Management

Enable Pride of Workmanship

Deming claimed that the sense of having helped other peopleHappyHappyJoyJoy is the most significant motivator and source of job satisfaction. It is one of the biggest enablers for pride of workmanship.

Of the projects you have worked on, think about the ones you are most proud of. What is it that makes you look back and say, “Wow! Look what we did!!!” Does meeting an arbitrary project deadline set by a sponsor make you proud of the project? Does fulfilling the written requirements even though the customer expectations were not met make you feel like you’ve really done something important? Probably not.

Personally, I feel the most pride when (1) a really significant positive impact was made and (2) I helped people and know they are grateful for what was accomplished. I want people to think and say “wow!” even if it is only to themselves about something the team did, big or small. These criteria are true for me whether I am managing the project, or am participating as an individual contributor.

Project managers should be looking for the great things their teams are doing. People on their projects should know that when they go above and beyond, they will be recognized. A huge part of this is that the PM must be unselfish and there to serve their people. Servant leadership, that is what is required. The PM should start with the viewpoint that the multitude of talent on their team is going to come up with better ideas than the PM can alone, and not be afraid to embrace those ideas.

Another key point is the avoidance of micromanaging projects. Tasks should be broken down to a certain level where the individual contributor can apply their expertise, and no further. Let them execute how they wish based on their talent and expertise. Be there to guide and serve, yes, but not to micromanage. Micromanaging is one of the quickest ways to kill the soul of a project team.

(Back to Deming’s 14 Points)

References and Resources

Managing for Quality and Performance Excellence
Deming and Goldratt
Out of the Crisis
The Deming Management Method
The New Economics
Four Days with Dr. Deming
Deming Route to Quality and Productivity
Deming The Way We Knew Him

About the author

JoshNankivel Josh Nankivel is a Project Planning & Controls Control Account Manager and contractor for the ground system of the Landsat Data Continuity Mission, a joint project between the USGS and NASA. His academic background includes a BS in Project Management, summa cum laude.  He can be found writing and contributing in many places within the project management community, and his primary project management website is located at pmstudent.com.


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