Which of these two deserves 94% of the blame:  the person or the process?

Who did it? — may not be the right question when something goes wrong at work or at home.

What in the process needs improvement? — may bring a better solution.

The late Total Quality pioneer, Dr. W. Edwards Deming asserted,  “I should estimate that in my experience most troubles and most possibilities for improvement add up to the proportions something like this: 94% belongs to the system, 6% special.”  Special includes an individual person or other non-system causes. Yet how much energy do we pour into being mad at certain annoying people?

For instance the airline ticketing lines may be  backed up and the individual at the counter is blamed by the customer for the being slow.  In actuality the computers system is out-of-date, overloading, and slowing up service.

Some folks go for years mad at a family member and blaming them for their bad behavior.  In actuality, the cultural processes ingrained in the person may be at the root.  A deeper appreciation* of those roots may lessen one’s incensed judgment against them.  A deeper appreciation of our own cultural  processes and biases may help too!

Please email me your thoughts about this.


*appreciation: a full understanding of a situation.