In this third discussion in a series on the Role of a Manager, David and Andrew discuss how a manager should view, and treat, people. Deming wrote, “It’s just not ranking people, it is instead recognition of differences between people and an intent to put everybody in position for development.” David applies this to education: literally looking at how to support everyone with limited resources.
0:00:02.2 Andrew Stotz: My name is Andrew Stotz and I’ll be your host as we continue our journey into the teachings of Dr. W. Edwards Deming. Today, I’m continuing my discussion with David P. Langford, who has devoted his life to applying Dr. Deming’s philosophy to education, and he offers us his practical advice for implementation, and before we get started, David, I have to apologize my voice, I got a little bit hoarse. The topic for today is Optimizing Diversity. David, take it away.
0:00:28.7 David P. Langford: Well, you’ve been talking too much, Andrew. So we’ve been working in this section in Dr. Deming’s book, The New Economics, and we’ve talking about the role of the manager, and the reason we’re doing that is because I often get asked all the time, well where do we begin, and what do we do and how do we start stuff? And people get fired up about Deming concepts, and then they wanna know what to do next, and so that’s why we’ve been talking about this about the role of a manager in a system and studying the aim of systems so on and so forth.
0:01:06.5 DL: So this is point number three, and I will just take a stab at just reading it. First off in Deming’s words, so he says “A manager of people understands that people are different from each other. He tries to create for everyone interest and challenge and joy in work, tries to optimize the family background, education, skills, hopes and abilities of everyone. It’s just not ranking people, it is instead recognition of differences between people and an intent to put everybody in position for development.” So in today’s lingo lingo, we would call that diversity, and there’s lots of different diversity, of course, there’s diversity in cultures, there’s difference in languages, there’s diversity of thought. There’s lots of different ways to think about this.
0:02:01.9 DL: And I really like what Deming is talking about here. He said… He’s talking about, what’s your role as a manager? And so in this podcast, we’re always talking about what are these things mean in education, obviously, Deming was talking mostly to corporate managers and people like that in business, but he was also an educator himself, so I always applied all these things to education in the same way. So as a teacher, you are a manager of people in a classroom, and when that group comes into the classroom, your job is to optimize the ability of them to work together, and that’s what Deming is talking about here. And so there’s lots of ways to do that. One of the ways that I picked up on a concept that was in Lean management called huddles, in which the Lean managers are taught to have a huddle with your employees first thing in the morning, well I transferred that into education and taught teachers all over the world have a huddle first thing in the morning. I just read a local research paper that came in on the web the other day, and a teacher was talking about the value of morning meetings.
0:03:28.5 DL: Well, call it whatever you want, but a huddle is just that basically, you just get everybody together. And it works fantastic, even kindergarten, whatever it might be, and get a chance to optimize their diversity. What happened over the weekend? What was memorable or not memorable. Does anybody have anything they wanna talk about? Something that happened that maybe you need support with or you don’t have to say anything, but if you wanna say something, you can. And I’ve always found those things just to be amazingly helpful to everybody, because once somebody in the group knows that somebody else is hurting in some way throughout the day, they can do little tiny things, and kids have amazing hearts and will help people if they know that they need help. Another way that I’ve taught people to optimize the diversity through the classroom or problems and issues that people have is an exercise called fear and a hat, and with fear and a hat you get people to write down what are their fears, and works really great, like when you’re trying to form a group, like in the beginning of the year, maybe even like day one, what are your fears about this year and what’s happening or this class or just anything. You don’t have to put your name on it.
0:04:58.8 DL: In fact, we don’t want you to put your name on it and then just drop it in this hat, and everybody drops it in a hat and then you rummage them around and you pull one out. I’ve had kids put in things like, well, I don’t know how to swim, and I’m afraid that other people are gonna find that…