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The Quality of Your People Will Dictate The Quality Of Your Business
By Damien Parker

Many years ago, as a member of The Executive Connection, I had an opportunity to listen to the wisdom of Tony Barnes, the last surviving member of the remarkable J Edwards Deming team which revolutionized Japan after the devastation of the WW2.

Now you’d think that one of the founding fathers of quality control would be cock-a-hoop at the progressions of many of us into such programs. Not so. In fact he believed that “88% of all quality programs in the west had failed”.

Back then, Barnes was somewhat scathing of a system which created a paper warfare simply to get an ISO rating. Barnes’ simple suggestion as to why we have gone wrong was this:

“An inordinate focus on the quality of the product and the processes, rather than on the quality of our people.”

And here are a few other Barnes observations – they were true back then and they still are today:

  • Barnes On Office Systems

    “Don’t make people the slaves of business systems. Make business systems the slaves of people.”

  • Barnes On Individual Work Appraisals

    “Drop them. Replace them with Team Appraisals.”

    “Work is not about attending work… it’s about achieving a result. So, why do we persist with the Victorian work ethic of 9 till 5?”

  • Barnes On Job Descriptions

    “Never have job descriptions as they destroy creativity. Instead get staff to make a one page statement of what they do and a mandatory additional responsibility must be to improve the overall way that the company does its business, whether it is in their job area or not.”

  • Barnes on Training

    “The term training should be replaced with this term education and people development and this is the most important function of all managers.”

    “In fact, there is no greater calling to a human being than to develop another human being.”

  • Barnes On The Future

    For Barnes, the only road to the future is imagination. Imagination is greater than knowledge. Those that dare to be different will be the winner’s of tomorrow.

    Key point: “Always ask and encourage all people within the business to ask maybe there’s a better way. In fact, the key role of a CEO is to take the hearts and minds of the staff into the future.”

  • Barnes On The Manager At Home

    “The modern manager should be a developer and encourager of those at home.”

    Key point: “How can you set the people who work for you alight, if you can’t set your own family alight?”

  • Barnes On Open Book Management

    “Every workforce must be educated in the basics of business. It’s only when they have the knowledge to truly understand how all the parts make up the whole that they can begin to make significant overall suggestions to improve and also to protect the valuable limited resources of the business. Every staff member should understand the business plan.”

  • Barnes on The Way Management Handles Staff

    “Just the same as a child is always challenging the parents, it is natural for staff to challenge the management. It’s the way management reacts to and handles the challenges which will determine the respect, loyalty and commitment of the staff. To get that extra commitment from staff – understand that money can’t buy it.”

  • Barnes On Bonuses

    “Don’t provide individual incentives… do so as part of a team!”

    “Why should people get a rise in pay or bonus simply because it’s a new year or because it happens to be a special day such as Christmas? Surely, the days of incremental pay rises must be replaced by wage improvements linked to on-job improvements which in turn, result in overall business improvement.”

  • Barnes On Planning

    “Identify where the success of your business comes from. Always preserve your limited yet valuable resources and use them where you will get maximum gain. That means dropping unprofitable customers, product lines and staff. Act ruthlessly.”

    Challenge: “There just has to be at least one point here which rings your bell. Don’t miss this opportunity to do something pro-active in increasing the sales, profits and cash of your business.”

Having read the views of Tony Barnes, what do you believe you need to alter in your management style?

In a lengthy career, business author, educator & Speaker Damien Parker, wrote/sold in excess of 30 business programs/manuals which grossed over $50 million as well as writing & publishing Positive Business, Australia’s largest & longest running paid subscription newsletter for small/medium business people (280+ monthly issues). Give or take, he also addressed approximately 130,000 business people, so he knows their issues intimately. As a coach, consultant & mentor to this sector, he focuses on providing practical solutions as well as systems, checklists, templates & work guides to ensure the all important implementation phase is successfully undertaken.

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