Sunday, August 26, 2007

Productivity and Empowerment at Los Angeles City Hall

To: Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

Fr: Zuma Dogg

Re: Dr. W. Edwards Deming 14 points of Quality Management (Productivity, Innovation & Empowerment)

Dt: March 7, 2007 (Summer re-run)

Dear Mayor Antonio,

It's ZD from the 213, as U can see on City TV. You've heard me rant and rave on the radio, inside Council Chambers and on Mayor Sam's blog. I know I've kinda been like a bat out of hell, storming City Hall like the Tazmanian Devil. But before Dave Elliott, the square peg of the corporate world, and society in general, was morphed into "Zuma Dogg" like Jack Nicholson was transformed in Joker -- he was the Led Zeppelin T-shirt wearing, shaggy-haired, unshaven disciple of Dr. W. Edwards Deming. (Same thing as ZD wearing hat and glasses in City the corporate world I would keep my shirt un-tucked, wear rock t-shirts to presentations, all these little things that were the BIGGEST deal in the boardroom, just like at City Hall.)

Meanwhile, the articles I was writing on Dr. Deming's "Methods for Management of Quality and Productivity" (based on Deming's "14 Points") were being published in international trade publications. And Deming himself, sent me a rare letter of praise based on my synopsis of his principals. It was the article that also caused Anthony Robbins to fire off a letter of praise, as well, to DE proclaiming, "I think your synthesis (of Deming's 14 points) is fabulous!"

So now, after applying Deming's principals to the radio and record industry for many years...I wanna introduce his material to the influential movers and shakers reading Mayor Sam's blog. If you wonder how ZD comes up with his angles -- everything FIRST must making it through the "Deming" filter -- then the "Ries & Trout" (Marketing Warfare) filter -- then is presented to the public through the "Tony Robbins" filter. ( can KINDA blame him for unleashing the outgoing/performance side of ZD.)

Here's a summary of the same old pitfalls that are made time and time again; by industry after industry; and corporation after corporation. So no offense Mayor, you have the same problems Ford, GM, Proctor & Gamble or Japanese manufacturers post-WWII had. Deming is the cure. But I warn you: It challenges the status quo, requires massive transformation at the hands and mind of a true reforming leader and requires you to provide a work environment that creates worker pride and joy, instead of angry secret posts against their boss on Mayor Sam and through emails to ZD. And losers usually resist change.

First of all, for any transformation to occur (in this case, to create the most efficient, innovative, world-class City Hall to prepare for the City's massive challenges in the present and future), you must have a leader with the desire to transform the organization and the vision in which to do so. All transformation starts at the top.

In this case, let's just assume Antonio (or Schwarzenegger), or whomever WANTS to transform their organization just so they can point to something they did, come re-election/higher office time: Then, we can start to discuss some of the things that cause inefficiency and bureaucracy in hopes of helping you "transform the organization". (Get the City in shape for the battle ahead and become the world-class jewel of a City Hall that the international market can look to.)

Enemy #1: Fear. Fear is something that is hard to measure with statistics, so it goes unchecked. However, "management by fear" is the biggest source of inefficiency at any job or government agency. Fear robs the employee of it's "pride and joy". It causes people to pass the ball; say things like, "That's not my department" (when they know the answer) -- because they are too scared they will get in trouble, even if they DO the right thing. And again, a work environment of fear starts at the top of the organization. In this case, that would be the mayor of any given City. You can judge customer service/how the customer/constituent will be treated, by how the staff is treated, by the boss. (ZD can tell a lot about a Councilmember, by their staff, as well...beyond the diversionary smiles.)

It's up to management to train and educate workers to the process, help them all be able to think as you would, and give them the power to make those decisions and take those actions to handle the problem and get it done. (THAT'S the Deming take on "Empowerment.")

The car salesman who can finalize the deal, without having to get approval from another boss, will allow the deal to be closed sooner, allowing the salesman to move on to the next customer more quickly, and the boss/manager can use his time for something else, other than holding his employees hand, by refusing the salesman to approve his own deals, because he/she is a control freak -- who is his/her own worst enemy to efficiency and an environment that generates "pride and joy" in the workplace, and therefore, product and services.

You also have to strive to break down the barriers between departments that add to the inefficiency. For example in the auto industry. It doesn't do any good to design an automobile that the factory line can't build. In radio, many formats bite the dust -- not because of low ratings, but because the sales department and programming department are on different pages. And that's because the goal of the sales department (sell as many commericals as possible) is in direct conflict with the goals of the programming department (the least amount of commercials as possible) since programming bonus incentives CONFLICT with the goals of the sales department.

NOW, apply that concept to all the different departments at City Hall...Each department with their own projected quotas and statistical hoops to jump through; and no wonder all these departments are working independently, instead of interdependently. They are pitted against each other, from the start. (Tony, call ZD to help you with a new flow chart and we'll talk about the problems with quotas and commissions and all that.)

To help reinforce the right message, a leader needs to make clear, "You don't work for Councilmember Blank, or the Blank department...You work for The City of Los Angeles and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa."

And when City workers know that the Mayor wants everyone to have a one-time re-training session (like Captain Musquiz did with his officers regarding the Brown Act), and they know the Mayor recognizes that THE PEOPLE are the Cities biggest asset -- not the property, or equipment, or even the building itself -- but the people; and the City needs everyone to take on new individual leadership (empowerment) to please go ahead and do those little things (human "fudge factor" if you will) that allows the machine to move along, uninterrupted. The workers are your biggest asset because THEY are the ones in the front lines; doing the jobs, and see everyday where things are going right and where things are going wrong. Empower them to answer the question, fix the glitch, or close the deal.

That's how you get employees to stop being lazy and simply saying, "That's not my department." I know you won't even be able top fathom this concept. But everyone should be able to do everyone else's job at the cafeteria. The server, should be able to be a cashier (if someone gets sick), or become busser (if the tables are overflowed), or become hostess if the line is getting long. (I know, you're head is exploding.) The cashier should be able to answer the question the customer has, without having to "get a manager." (Then you have customers waiting in line because the cashier has to get the manager, only to press the button the cashier could just have easily pressed.

But management across America, not just City Hall, likes to keep employee feedback at bay. "We know what's right. We have paid consultants evaluating the situation and coming up with an expensive report of suggested recommendations." When the worker could add some input the report would never uncover.

For example, statistics show workplace injuries are way up. Top management becomes aware of the situation and gets involved..."How could this be? Tell these idiots to be more careful. Hire a safety workplace consultant to give a seminar as to how to be more careful." Failing to realize the problem is the unsafe railing that isn't screwed in tightly enough and you have a water leak in the roof that is making the factory floor slippery in the morning. But workers don't say anything, cause they don't know who to turn to, or don't want to seem like they are making problems. Because they are working in a fear based environment. (Deming says "fix the system" for the workers-- don't bark meaningless exhortations about safety when you have slippery floors and loose railings.)

That's a good starting point, for now.


(310) 928-7544

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