Many years ago an article was published in the UK lamenting the dismal state of primary education in Great Britain. The key premise of the article: half of the students had below average reading skills.
Apparently the article was promoted as highlighting a serious problem, conveniently ignoring an important fact in favour of selling more newspapers – in any typical statistical sample, the number of values below and above average will be similar.
In the early 1990s I worked at McEwans, which later morphed into Bunnings. To learn more about the business and how it operates, I would help out every Saturday on the shop floor at a branch located near where I lived.
One Saturday, I noticed dirt on the shelves in the paint department. My initial reaction was to clean them myself, but then it occurred to me: what if other stores have the same problem?
Training attracts no controversy. On the contrary, people see it as a necessary activity, believing that it improves productivity and empowers employees. Almost ritualistically, many organisations invest in training, while the media routinely portrays it as an important factor in securing Australia’s economic future.
Yet, no one could argue that all training delivers the same value. Furthermore, have you ever considered that in some circumstances training could actually harm your business?
When asked by business owners or senior executives how to improve their business, I usually give the same answer: adopt Deming’s Management Method, known as Total Quality Management (TQM).
TQM helps businesses evolve towards higher quality management. The effectiveness of the approach has been well proven and, though it can be a difficult management methodology to adopt, the results it delivers far outweigh the work required.
In August 1996, I wrote an editorial for The Quality Magazine, titled ‘Quality Management in Retail’. In the article, I lamented the lack of interest in TQM (Total Quality Management) amongst Australian retailers. Twenty years later, the industry still struggles with sub-optimal results, but I believe that I’ve now discovered one of the reasons why TQM gets the cold shoulder.
My karate Sensei used to say that practice does not necessarily make perfect. Only good practice makes perfect.
This still resonates with me as it aligns with a Total Quality Management focus on knowledge, rather than experience, as the key factor in making employees and management more effective within a business.