Freedom, humiliation, and joy

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Dr. Deming: ‘Management Today Does Not Know What Its Job Is’

IW: What then is the source of innovation?

Dr. Deming: The source of innovation is freedom. All we have—new knowledge, invention—comes from freedom. Somebody responsible only to himself has the heaviest responsibility. “You cannot plan to make a discovery,” Irving Langmuir said. Discoveries and new knowledge come from freedom. When somebody is responsible only to himself, [has] only himself to satisfy, then you’ll have invention, new thought, now product, new design, new ideas.

IW: How does a company, a research manager, a manager of people create an environment where there is freedom?

Dr. Deming: Give people a chance to make use of their diverse abilities, capabilities, family life, education, hopes. Help them to accomplish their aim.

lW: One of your more controversial ideas is eliminating performance evaluations.

Dr. Deming: Well yes, because you cannot measure performance. Appraisal of people is ruinous. You cause humiliation, crush out joy of learning, innovation, joy on the job. Most of what anybody does is governed by the system that he works in. You are not evaluating him, you are evaluating the interaction with him and the system, the rules and constraints he works in. …

Dr. Deming: The alternative is joy on the job. To have it, people must understand what their jobs are, how their work fits in, how they could contribute. Why am I doing this? Whom do I depend on? Who depends on me? Very few people have the privilege to understand those things. Management does not tell them. The boss does not tell them. He does not know what his job is. How could he know? When people understand what their jobs are, then they may take joy in their work. Otherwise, I think they cannot.”


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