Teams Need Vision Too

Teams exist to execute to organization objectives. In order to meet these objectives, a team needs a vision of itself. There are eight major elements to a team’s vision:

  1. Consistency with organizational objectives: The team vision should be aligned with and derive from the organization’s overall purpose and strategy. Teams are sub-elements in a wider organization structure and their success will be judged on the extent to which they make valuable contributions to the overall purpose of the organization. In some circumstances a team may decide that it is important for its own values, purposes and orientations to act as a minority group which aims to bring about change in organization objectives – perhaps like a red team.
  2. Receiver needs: Teams focus on providing excellence in service to its customers, whether internal or external.
  3. Quality of work: A major emphasis within organizations is the quality of work. The relationship between quality and other functions like efficiency is important.
  4. Value to the wider organization: Understanding the importance of the team just not for the wider organization but beyond, leads to team cohesion and greater team effectiveness. Team members need a clear perception of the purposes of their work.
  5. Team-climate relationships: Team climate refers to aspects such as the warmth, humor, amount of conflict, mutual support, sharing, backbiting, emphasis on status, participation, information sharing, level of criticism of each other’s work and support for new ideas.
  6. Growth and well-being of team members: Growth, skill development and challenge are central elements of work life and teams can be a major source of support. Teams provide opportunities for skill sharing and support for new training. Teams need to be concerned for the well-being of its members, including things like burnout.
  7. Relationships with other teams and departments in the organization: Teams rarely operate in isolation. They interact with other team and departments within the organization. Teams must be committed to working effectively and supporting other teams. Avoid silo thinking.
Criteria for Team Vision

Management’s Job

In episode 48 of the Deming Len’s podcast, the host refers back to Deming’s last interview, “Dr. Deming: ‘Management Today Does Not Know What Its Job Is‘”

Deming Len's Episode #48 – Management (Still) Doesn't Know What Its Job Is The W. Edwards Deming Institute® Podcast

In our 47th Deming Lens episode, host Tripp Babbitt shares his interpretation of wide-ranging aspects and implications of Dr. Deming's System of Profound Knowledge. This month he looks at Dr. Deming's Last Interview. Show Notes [00:00:14] The Deming Lens – Episode 48 [00:02:39] Management's Job [00:03:59] The Lost Art of Quality [00:06:20] The Source of Innovation [00:08:28] What's Happening in Organizations     Transcript [00:00:14] In the forty eighth episode of The Deming Lens, we'll look at Dr. Deming's last interview. Management doesn't know what its job is. For this month's Deming Lens, I was looking around for a subject, maybe something that I've talked about before, which after you've done a few podcast episodes, it's hard not to repeat yourself. But I came across an article from Industry Week and it was Dr. Deming's last interview with a gentleman from Industry Week. His name is Tim Stephens, and the article is titled Dr. Deming. Management today does not know what its job is. And it was a two part article. And I, as I started to read it, just brought back a lot of thinking and and it covered a lot of Dr. Deming's thoughts about quality, management, innovation and things of that sort. And it occurred to me that management still doesn't know what its job is. And in Dr. Deming's in this interview, the question was asked, what is management's job? And Dr. Deming responded, and I'm going to paraphrase a little bit. Here is Bob. They don't understand Mantid mean they management does not understand its responsibilities. They don't know the potential of the position. They lack knowledge or abilities, and there is no substitute for knowledge, which we've heard that phrase over and over again and. After you've studied the work of Dr. Deming for a long period of time, like I have when I went to his four day seminar in the 80s, you know, these things kind of resonate in your mind.   [00:02:39] And you reread them and read articles about them, people's comments about them. There is so much depth to even answering a question like what is what is management's job? And in a word, as Dr. Deming alludes to in this article, it's quality. And, you know, it's such a nebulous word. The word quality can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people and even for organizations or customers. How do you define that? In this article, Dr. Deming basically said quality what we'll do a customer some good and that what was required was to study the customer, get ahead of him or her. The customer invents nothing we've heard thus, you know, over and over again, it's his famous line which is actually quoted in this article. No customer ever asked for an electric light, a VCR or a CD. And so these are some of the things that Dr. Deming would talk about in terms of quality.   [00:03:59] And I think as time has gone by and you look at quality, first of all, it's a word that's rarely used anymore. We talk about customer experience and we talk about innovation. And I think those are components of quality, but really understanding.   [00:04:17] To me, there's two areas. One is understanding customer expectations of what they're going to get and a product or service. And even their Dr. Deming would say, you know, you as the provider of a service or product, build the expectations of what the customer is going to get. Now. Over time, I've learned to be very critical of organizations because I've seen what they're what they're capable of and what they're performing, and there is a huge delta there between at least at my expectations and what they're delivering from a service standpoint. And there's the curse of W. Edwards Deming, I guess one might say. And so that's the first thing is this this whole thing about expectations, especially if you've experienced good service, then you experience bad service and you understand what the delta is between those two things. And then the second thing is the source of innovation or innovation in general. You start and talk in terms of coming up with new products and services and ideas, whether it's in an effort to reduce variation or to come up with actually new products and services. And actually, if yeah, I would say that you're going to increase your variation till you work on that particular product or service where you can deliver it on a high level to a customer. But but the source of innovation. Innovation is what really kind of caught my eye in this article, too.   [00:06:20] And what he says and I'm going to quote from the article when he was asked the question, what then is the source of innovation? And Dr. Deming responded, The source of innovation is freedom. All we have new knowledge. Invention comes from freedom. Somebody responsible only to himself has the heaviest responsibility. 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, new product, new design, new ideas. And this ability to be free is one of the things that I see kind of disappearing and some cases they never had. It is an ability to be free within your job, especially if you're a front line worker or an employee of an organization. And this is where I think management is really squelching employees, front line people who are interacting with customers on a daily basis as they're so centralized and almost choreographed to a point where micromanagement is, you know, the the flavor of the day. We seem to be going not not not just in organizations, but just as a whole, this kind of pendulum swing to centralization of things and control of things and working in these organizations. And interestingly, I was participating in a LinkedIn conversation that I commented on. And let me just go back to this particular conversation.   [00:08:28] This started with a LinkedIn news poll, their LinkedIn news, if you're familiar with or have different topics, and then they'll pull comments and things from from folks. But the question was the poll. Have you considered leaving your job or actually left a role to pursue a passion project in the last year? Twenty two percent said yes. And I'm not looking back. Forty four percent said yes, I've considered it. Thirty percent said no, not at all. And four percent said it depends. And now there were over fifteen thousand responses to this poll, what you'll get when LinkedIn is sponsoring a particular poll, but. I wrote in this as a response, I said there are serious problems with our organizations. Why is it people have to leave a company define YOLO jobs and YOLO jobs? Are you only live once types of jobs? Where why would I want to, you know, experience grief in an organization that I have when I only live once? I might as well quit my existing job. I went on to write This is something I've been working on with executives, executive teams for over a decade now. It isn't easy to create a system people want to work in, but it is worth it. One large factor contribute to the YOLO mentality is control micromanaged. Employees will either leave, undermine your mission or mail it in meaning disengage.   [00:10:17] You, engage employees with purpose, assist you with the customer innovation and greater good, leaving the details to employees to accomplish and control their work. Opportunities exist for those wanting to run their own show, and organizations need to compete against it or lose people. This requires new approaches and methods, and I think a lot of that response really comes from my study of Dr. Deming and what is management's job. And with all the centralization that we seem to have going on not only in government but also in our organizations, we're losing that freedom that that creates this need to create the atmosphere, to innovate. And so I wanted to just share I still think management doesn't know what its job is. I worked very hard coming up with methods to help define that. They're very imperfect. But that's been a huge focus of how do you get management to understand what their job is. And then when you look through the lens of the system of profound knowledge, you're going to see things. When you look at your organization as a system, when you understand variation and the power of of using control charts, when you and understand variation, the power of how to get knowledge and using scientific method and and then the psychology of it. And in fact, one of the things I wrote in my notes here as I was reading this was, you know, does your organization provide freedom? And it's so important you want to create stress in people.   [00:12:21] Neuroscience has found that, you know, if you don't control your own work, this this is something that is really going to drive people out of your organization. They have no freedom. They have no sense of freedom if it's just about training them. And you do step one step to follow the procedure type of atmosphere, that doesn't help her company because you've got to constantly be innovating today and today's world. And it's one of the advantage, at least here in the US we've had for a long period of time, is allowing that freedom and, you know, tapping into that to come up with not only new ways of doing things, but new products and services. So anyway, I thought I'd share that with you this month. Hopefully maybe you picked up something off of either the article, which I'll put a link to in the show notes or possibly my response in my linked in response to why people are leaving organizations. But share your thoughts. Either you can go to the LinkedIn article or reach me at Hi, this is Tripp Babbitt, one way that you can help the Deming Institute and this podcast is by providing a reading on Apple podcast.  
  1. Deming Len's Episode #48 – Management (Still) Doesn't Know What Its Job Is
  2. Deming Len's Episode #47 – SoPK: The Interaction of the Parts
  3. Deming Lens #46 – The Art of Tampering
  4. Deming Lens #45 – Thank You, Ron Moen
  5. Deming Lens #44 – Deming Institute Podcast Audience Review

I’ve written recently about driving fear out of the organization. Without a doubt I think this is the number one task for us. True North for the quality profession.

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.

Dr. W. Edwards Deming

Structured What-If Technique as a Risk Assessment Tool

The structured what-if technique, SWIFT, is a high-level and less formal risk identification technique that can be used independently, or as part of a staged approach to make bottom-up methods such as FMEA more efficient. SWIFT uses structured brainstorming in a facilitated workshop where a predetermined set of guidewords (timing, amount, etc.) are combined with prompts elicited from participants that often begin with phrases such as “what if?” or “how could?”.

At the heart of a SWIFT is a list of guidewords to enable a comprehensive review of risks or sources of risk. At the start of the workshop the context, scope and purpose of the SWIFT is discussed and criteria for success articulated. Using the guidewords and “what if?” prompts, the facilitator asks the participants to raise and discuss issues such as:

  • known risks
  • risk sources and drivers
  • previous experience, successes and incidents
  • known and existing controls
  • regulatory requirements and constraints

The list of guidewords is utilized by the facilitator to monitor the discussion and to suggest additional issues and scenarios for the team to discuss. The team considers whether controls are adequate and if not considers potential treatments. During this discussion, further “what if?” questions are posed.

Often the list of risks generated can be used to fuel a qualitative or semi-quantitative risk assessment method, such as an FMEA is.

A SWIFT Analysis allows participants to look at the system response to problems rather than just examining the consequences of component failure. As such, it can be used to identify opportunities for improvement of processes and systems and generally can be used to identify actions that lead to and enhance their probabilities of success.

What-If Analysis

What–If Analysis is a structured brainstorming method of determining what things can go wrong and judging the likelihood and consequences of those situations occurring.  The answers to these questions form the basis for making judgments regarding the acceptability of those risks and determining a recommended course of action for those risks judged to be unacceptable.  An experienced review team can effectively and productively discern major issues concerning a process or system.  Lead by an energetic and focused facilitator, each member of the review team participates in assessing what can go wrong based on their past experiences and knowledge of similar situations.

What If?AnswerLikelihoodSeverityRecommendations
What could go wrong?What would happen if it did?How likely?ConsequencesWhat will we do about them Again – prevent and monitor
What-If Analysis

Steps in a SWIFT Analysis

SWIFT Risk Assessment
  1. Prepare the guide words: The facilitator should select a set of guide words to be used in the SWIFT.
  2. Assemble the team: Select participants for the SWIFT workshop based on their knowledge of the system/process being assessed and the degree to which they represent the full range of stakeholder groups.
  3. Background: Describe the trigger for the SWIFT (e.g., a regulatory change, an adverse event, etc.).
  4. Articulate the purpose: Clearly explain the purpose to be served by the SWIFT (e.g., to improve effectiveness of the process).
  5. Define the requirements: Articulate the criteria for success
  6. Describe the system: Provide appropriate-level textual and graphical descriptions of the system or process to be risk assessed. A clear understanding is necessary and can be is established through interviews, gathering a multifunctional team and through the study of documents, plans and other records. Normally the
  7. Identify the risks/hazards: This is where the structured what-if technique is applied. Use the guide words/headings with each system, high-level subsystem, or process step in turn. Participants should use prompts starting with the phrases like “What if…” or “How could…” to elicit potential risks/hazards associated with the guide word. For instance, if the process is “Receipt of samples,” and the guide word is “time, timing or speed,” prompts might include: “What if the sample is delivered at a shift change” (wrong time) or “How could the sample be left waiting too long in ambient conditions?” (wrong timing).
  8. Assess the risks: With the use of either a generic approach or a supporting risk analysis technique, estimate the risk associated with the identified hazards. In light of existing controls, assess the likelihood that they could lead to harm and the severity of harm they might cause. Evaluate the acceptability of these risk levels, and identify any aspects of the system that may require more detailed risk identification and analysis.
  9. Propose actions: Propose risk control action plans to reduce the identified risks to an acceptable level.
  10. Review the process: Determine whether the SWIFT met its objectives, or whether a more detailed risk assessment is required for some parts of the system.
  11. Document: Produce an overview document to communicate the results of the SWIFT.
  12. Additional risk assessment: Conduct additional risk assessments using more detailed or quantitative techniques, if required. The SWIFT Analysis is really effective as a filtering mechanism to focus effort on the most valuable areas.

Guideword Examples

The facilitator and process owner can choose any guide words that seem appropriate. Guidewords usually stem around:

  • Wrong: Person or people
  • Wrong: Place, location, site, or environment
  • Wrong: Thing or things
  • Wrong: Idea, information, or understanding
  • Wrong: Time, timing, or speed
  • Wrong: Process
  • Wrong: Amount
  • Failure: Control or Detection
  • Failure: Equipment

If your organization has invested time to create root cause categories and sub-categories, the guidewords can easily start there.


Whataboutism is the common term for a version of the tu quoque fallacy, a diversionary tactic to shift the focus off of an issue and avoid having to directly address it by twisting criticism back onto the critic and in doing so revealing the original critic’s hypocrisy.

Whataboutism often results in a comparison of issues as pure deflection. We see it when individuals are always focused on why others get ahead and they don’t, looking for comparisons and reasons they are being treated unfairly instead of focusing on their own opportunities for improvement. It is so easy to use when we are faced with criticism, “Well, what about … ?”

We also see whataboutism in our cultures. Maybe it is a tendency to excuse your own team’s shortcomings because obviously the sins of another team is so much worse. This is a result of, and strengthens, silo-thinking.

Building the feedback process to reduce and eventually eliminate whataboutism is critical.


When I first joined my current company I spent a lot of time introducing myself. I’ve been here now a year, and there are new folks, new relationships and most important we are getting ready to change our way of working by introducing hybrid work.

As a leader it’s important to be honest in who you are and how you work. The best technique I’ve seen for this is a user manual, a quick way to express what works and what does not work for interacting with me.

Mine looks like this:

My User Manual

I’ll be updating this as part of my team establishing a new team governance charter.