A Latte with Deming: How I learned to stop blaming employees

There is a coffee shop in southern Stockholm where I have taken the habit of procuring my morning shot of coffee. There’s nothing special about the place, devoid of charm and located at the busy entrance of a metro station, but the coffee’s pretty good. I always order a double latte with an additional carrot-and-orange juice. One nice touch is that they put cardboard holders around hot paper cups, making them less uncomfortable to hold.

The coffee shop is managed by a middle-aged man, often working in the back room. The best thing about the place is probably not the coffee, but the young, female shop-assistant, who’s very service-minded and efficient.

This morning routine of mine hummed along nicely until one day a couple of weeks ago when, to my concern, I was met by two girls behind the counter. The new girl looked very confused. During the following weeks, the training period I assume, the new and old assistant worked side by side, but after that, the one I was used to was gone.

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Was Deming against self-improvement?

I recently blogged about Adaptiv’s peer performance conversations, or PPCs. As a comment to that post, I received a great question from Bob Marshall (@flowchainsensei), which was: “Please tell me how this in any way makes sense in the context of Deming’s 95/5?”. This is my response.

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A Systems Analysis of CSM Certification – Part 1: Qualification by Proxy

Introduction

This article is the first of a series of articles that will compose an analysis of some causes and effects surrounding the Scrum Alliance Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) certification. The CSM certificate is given to course participants after taking part in a two-day ScrumMaster course.

Please note, this is not an analysis of Scrum or agile methods in general, nor of just any certificate. This focuses on the CSM certification only. What makes this certificate special is that it is not grounded in any real knowledge about the person who receives it. I am interested in studying the short- and long-term effect of this behaviour.

Ron Jeffries made one analysis of this, which I found inspiring. I recommend reading it to get a different view from mine.

She’s a Model and She’s Looking Good

I want to employ a systems perspective for this and model these forces using Causal Loop Diagrams (CLDs). You can tell a lot from these simple diagrams and they are great vehicles for discussion and learning. I am certainly no expert in creating CLDs so please forgive me for any beginner’s mistakes.

The important thing is that I want to approach this in a systemic way. By that I mean, that I don’t want to take the CSM apart and see how it works. Instead I want to look at the world around it; the forces that contribute to its existence and its consequences. Only then can we draw conclusions as to its role, if it is fulfilling its purpose, and if that purpose is even worth pursuing.

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