Thinking about “True, True North”

I haven’t been very active on this site.  Gotta do something about that.  I’ve  been focused on getting our IEX website to a “better place.”

I was asked to write a guest blog for the Deming Institute.  I’m always happy to do that.  I’ve been thinking about what organizations are calling “true north” and I’m wondering if it is really just “management by results” in disguise.

Perhaps “true, true north” includes important results, but also the organization’s purpose and the way that people act to achieve results.  Perhaps something like this? What do you think?

Go to this link to read my blog post for the Deming Institute.  I’d like to hear your thoughts.

What’s Wrong With Our Species?

If some visitors from another planet showed up today and read the headlines in today’s USA Today I think they would turn around and go back.

What’s wrong with our species?

What’s wrong with this picture?

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Oh, I see.  I think a major cause of the problem is identified on page 5A

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I still think they would turn around and leave us to kill ourselves.  Is there hope?

An Example of a Purpose-Activated Life: My Brother Dave

My brother Dave passed away last night after a four year battle with leukemia (and a battle with the treatment of the disease).  He was a great guy.  I would say that he lived a purpose-driven life.  I first blogged about him in February 2012.

my brother dave

I blogged about Dave and my brother Paul (the donor for Dave’s bone marrow transplant) a few months later in April 2012.  We had some great promise that Dave could beat this disease.  My brother Paul is a great guy too.  I think this experience gave him some new insight into a purpose-driven life.

I had another update blog in October 2013.  He was battling the disease and also the healthcare system.

I saw Dave in August of 2015.  We had a great conversation.  He seemed optimistic, but I could tell that this disease (and the treatment of the disease) was really taking it’s toll.  I came away from that (last) time with my brother Dave with a real sense of inspiration.  I had been in the presence of someone who was still finding real purpose in his life and trying to make a difference every day in any way that he could.

I’ll miss my brother.  He was a great guy.

I invite you to read more about him at this website.

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I had the good fortune to attend Dave’s funeral and memorial service at Inland Hills Church with my siblings, and my son Jerry.  It was a really special time.  I got to see my nephew Andrew (now the Pastor at IHC) in action from the stage.  And I got to view a special video that my nephew Austin made for his dad.  My brother Mark read a great eulogy.  I accidentally pushed the “stop” button on my phone, so here’s the 2nd part of that eulogy.

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Lots of people asked what they can do to help my family in Chino, California (where IHC is located).  I’ll forward my brother’s request.  In leu of flowers …. TITHE.  Donations can be made by going to this website:

The original title of this blog had the words “purpose-driven.”  I now believe “purpose-activated” is the better term.  I learned about this from reading Jon Mertz’s recent blog.  I believe this better describes my brother Dave and his life’s purpose.  He was always about “what are you going to DO, with what you KNOW?”

Time to Move Into Other Spots (Again) – Go Add Value Someplace Else

I’m doing it again.  Moving into other spots.

I’m joining some colleagues at the Institute For Enterprise Excellence to understand and pursue “purpose-driven lives” and to try to help others do the same.

A friend gave me a great book by Scott Adams (part of the Dilbert collection) as a going-away present.  This gesture had great meaning for me, and gives me some hope that I’m on the right track for where I can continue to try to add value.

go add value someplace else

I’m still part of the “gang tackle” to transform healthcare and will continue to be connected to the great work at the ThedaCare Center For Healthcare Value.  The work is not yet done, just moving into another spot.


Why Do I Keep Coming Back? Deming Institute Conference

I had the good fortune to attend the Fall Conference sponsored by the Deming Institute this past weekend. This visit was extra special as I was able to attend with my son, Dan.

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The conference was great (as always) and several times Dan asked me how many companies understood and applied what was being talked about and discussed.  It’s pretty clear that the percentage is low.  It would be much easier to say “I don’t see any reason to work uphill since these principles are not being followed by most people.”

Yes, it’s easy to give up.  But I keep coming back.  Why?  Since I first met Dr. Deming in 1985 I knew what he was talking about was important, but was understood by few.  I think it’s important to keep trying and keep up the hope.  As I talk with people, I come to realize that there ARE some people who are “getting it” and the number is growing, but perhaps not at a steep pace.

So, there’s hope that that there’s hope.

I simply don’t see an alternative but to try, and to continue to learn.  I can’t go back to managing by results just because others are doing it.  I can’t start a performance evaluation system just because it’s the prevailing style.  I can’t chop the organization into parts and manage the parts just because others do it.  I simply can’t do it.  And I won’t.

I take solace from the advice from Dr. Deming in is 1993 book The New Economics:

“The first step is transformation of the individual.  This transformation is discontinuous.  It comes from understanding of the system of profound knowledge.  The individual, transformed, will perceive new meaning to his life, to events, to numbers, to interactions between people.  Once the individual understands the system of profound knowledge, he will apply its principles in every kind of relationship with other people.  He will have a basis for judgment of his own decisions and for transformation of the organizations that he belongs to.  The individual, once transformed, will:

  • Set an example,
  • Be a good listener, but will not compromise,
  • Continually teach other people,
  • Help people to pull away from their current practice and beliefs and move into the new philosophy without a feeling of guilt about the past.”

W. Edwards Deming. The New Economics for Industry, Government, Education (p. 93).

Truth And Consequences

There once was a television show called “Truth Or Consequences.”  I can remember watching the version that Bob Barker hosted.

I offered some thoughts on Truth in this blog post for the ThedaCare Center For Healthcare Value.

Here are some thoughts on consequences.

I had the good fortune to participate in a coaching education and training session at one of our Healthcare Value Network member organizations last week.  They have been learning about guiding principles for enterprise excellence.  One of the important points about these principles is that they govern consequences.  While values govern behavior, principles govern consequences.  I often see these two blended together, but there really is an important distinction.

The executive management at this organization has been doing a lot of great work focused on learning about these guiding principles.  They have taken their organizational values and anchored them to the guiding principles.  The result was an articulation of “ideal behavior.”

This coaching course was one of the initial introduction of these ideal behaviors to the next level of management.  The word “consequences” came up.

The traditional view of “consequences” conjures up images of punishment.  That’s not the kind of consequences we were talking about last week.  We are not talking about the CEO or anyone in top management checking to see if people are following the ideal behaviors.  The focus here is “compliance.”

The kind of consequences were were talking about are the consequences of not understanding the guiding principles.  For instance, if I don’t fully understand the principle of “think systemically” I might unintentionally make matters worse for someone else in my system through my actions or best efforts.  The focus here is “understanding and commitment.”