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Saturday, 16 June 2007 10:17

Deming's 7th Point in Project Management

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Teach and Institute Leadership

It is the age-old distinction that usually merits much lip service and little true implementation. There is supervision/management, and then there is leadership. Project managers can either be supervisors or leaders, regardless of their job title.

Supervising/managing is simply overseeing and directing work. If you know everything about PMBOK and other methodologies, but practice project management like a robot within that knowledge, you are supervising, not leading. Another interpretation is a primary tactical focus with the long-term picture being a secondary consideration, if that.

Leadership is providing guidance to help employees to their jobs better with less effort. It's all the elements of training, example-setting, continuous improvement of systems, etc. together. You don't have to be a charismatic person to be a great leader, there is much more to it than dynamism and likability. You do have to do the above, and have a long-term lens through which you look at everything you and your teams do.

Organizations who want to have great leaders as project managers should be training them to be great leaders, so in a way this is a correlate of Point 6. Part of the training regimen needs to be leadership. Upper management needs to consist of people who are lifelong learners and students of leadership philosophy. They should be passing down that knowledge to their project managers and other employees in a formalized manner, and on a regular basis.

Deming's 14 Points
  1. Commitment from the Top to Continuous Improvement as a Way of Life
  2. Adopt a Philosophy of Cooperation Where Everyone Wins and Teach it to Everyone
  3. Inspection is a Tool for Improvement, Not a Whip
  4. Consider Costs and Benefits of the Entire System and Deliverable Lifetime
  5. Continuous Improvement
  6. Job/Task-Related Training
  7. Teach and Institute Leadership
  8. Drive Out Fear and Create Trust
  9. Break Down Departmental Barriers in Pursuit of a Common Goal
  10. No Slogans or Disingenuous Pep Talks
  11. Attribute Results to Processes
  12. Enable Pride of Workmanship
  13. Training Not Related to Job/Task
  14. Total Participation Starting From the Top

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

Josh Nankivel is the Vice Chair of Special Projects for the Students of Project Management SIG of PMI, and a project management student/enthusiast. His website is

Read 7942 times Last modified on Sunday, 13 December 2009 19:20
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