Fear still driving

Dr. W. Edwards Deming, the originator of TQM (Total Quality Management), put forth 14 points of organisation behaviour change towards better performance.

Stilgherrian’s post on being real on the web brought to mind Deming’s eighth point: Drive out fear.

Point 8: Fear is a barrier to improvement so drive out fear by encouraging effective two-way communication and other mechanisms that will enable everybody to be part of change, and to belong to it.

In this age of easy access to information, why is openness and transparency still scary? Society and businesses are by and large still scaffolded in fear-driven rituals and blinkers. Some examples:

  • Our company will only work with other Pty Ltd companies. We don’t work with sole traders. [Fear: Individuals are untrustworthy. But a “brand” is.]
  • Your experience and actual demonstrable skills are irrelevant; you must have that piece of paper before we will employ you. [Fear: Only institutions can impart knowledge. We do not trust individuals to learn anything on their own.]
  • Shut up and tow the line. We don’t want ideas or feedback. [Fear: We don’t want to be told what we already know, that which we are consensually avoiding. We don’t want change.]
  • The “brown people” will get us. The world is not safe. Every man for himself. [Fear: We don’t have enough to go around. We must amass as much as we can for ourselves.]
  • Let someone else take the first step. Then we copy what they do when it has been “proven” to work. [Fear: We may fail and look silly.]
  • We must tell people how to think and what to say. [Fear: We can't possibly trust anyone to do the right thing. And everyone must agree with my ideas because I am right. If I am not right, who would I be?!]

I’m sure you can think of many more examples.

Perhaps it is time to scare more people…

One comment

  1. John Hunter said:

    See a great article on Driving out fear: “Fear erodes joy in work, limits communication, and stifles innovation. Fear fosters short-term thinking as people search to avoid reprisal, perhaps at the expense of others in the system.”

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