home | what's new | other sitescontact | about



Word Gems 

exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity





"On the north bank of the Ohio [River] everything is activity, labor is honored - there are no slaves. Pass to the south bank and the scene changes so suddenly that you think yourself on the other side of the world - the enterprising spirit is gone." Alexis de Tocqueville, 1831



Richard Nelson Bolles: How to Find Your Mission in Life

Stephen R. Covey: From Effectiveness to Greatness




Frederic Bastiat: "Now since man is naturally inclined to avoid pain - and since labor is pain in itself - it follows that men will resort to plunder whenever plunder is easier than work. History shows this quite clearly. And under these conditions, neither religion nor morality can stop it. When, then, does plunder stop? It stops when it becomes more painful and more dangerous than labor. It is evident, then, that the proper purpose of law is to use the power of its collective force to stop this fatal tendency to plunder instead of to work. All the measures of the law should protect property and punish plunder."


"You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand." Woodrow Wilson


George Burns: "Fall in love with what you're going to do for a living. It's very important. To be able to get out of bed and do what you love for the rest of the day is beyond words. It's just great. It'll keep you around for a long time."

Thomas Sowell: "The most fundamental fact about the ideas of the political left is that they do not work. Therefore we should not be surprised to find the left concentrated in institutions where ideas do not have to work in order to survive."



Ellen Langer : "People are at their most mindful when they are at play. If we find ways of enjoying our work - blurring the lines between work and play - the gains will be greater."

Sir J. Lubbock: "Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time."

Thomas Alva Edison: "Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration."

Martin Luther King, Jr.: "If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven played music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well."

Alexis de Tocqueville, 1831: "On the north bank of the Ohio [River] everything is activity, labor is honored - there are no slaves. Pass to the south bank and the scene changes so suddenly that you think yourself on the other side of the world - the enterprising spirit is gone."

John Gardner: "An excellent plumber is infinitely more admirable than an incompetent philosopher. The society which scorns excellence in plumbing because it is a humble activity, and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity, will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water."

Fortune, Jan. 12, 2004, Peter Drucker Sets Us Straight: "The 94-year-old guru says that most people are thinking all wrong about jobs, debt, globilization, and recession: You can always count on Peter Drucker to provide a new way of looking at things. After all, he is the man who first recognized that management is a discipline worthy of deep and formal study. Long before anyone else - in the early 1950s, no less - he predicted how computer technology would one day thoroughly transform business. In 1961 he presciently called attention to the rise of Japan as an industrial power, and two decades later he warned of it impending economic stagnation. And we can thank him for coining the concepts of 'privatization,' 'knowledge workers,' and 'management by objective' ... [Question] You say that the US economy today suffers from profound misperceptions... [Drucker] The structure of the US economy is remarkably different from what everybody thinks. Nobody seems to realize that we import twice or three times as many jobs as we export. I'm talking about the jobs created by foreign companies coming into the US. the most obvious are the foreign automobile companies. Siemans alone has 60,000 employees in the US. We are exporting low-skill, low-paying jobs but are importing high-skill, high-paying jobs. [Question] But isn't it true that labor costs are much higher in the US, and that moving more manufacturing abroad harms our balance of trade.? [Drucker] Wage cost is of primary importance today for very few industries, namely ones where labor costs account for more than 20% of the total cost of the product -- like textiles. I don't know what proportion of the cost of the typical American product is attributable to labor, but it's a small and shrinking one. Take automobile parts... it is still very much cheaper to produce in this country ... than to import, because the parts, while labor-intensive, are also very skill-intensive to design and make... Consequently, the industries that are moving jobs out of the US are the more backward industries. The US remains the cheapest place in the world to produce for many of the more advanced industries. I say that not because our wages and salaries are so low [but because of the availability of the other forms of capital.]  [Question] What about the widespread impression that the US has an unemployment problem? [Drucker] Nobody seems to realize that we have the highest proportion of our population in the workforce by far than any other country in the industrialized world. We have the lowest long-term unemployment rate in the West... [not the] short-term kind when people are between jobs for at most a few months. And we easily have the highest availability of good jobs for educated people what want to enter the labor force. We basically have no unemployment for college graduates ... they may not get $70,000 a year the first year, but they get employed..."

Winston Churchill: "Working-hours are never long enough. Each day is a holiday, and ordinary holidays are grudged as enforced interruptions in an absorbing vocation."



Rich Karlgaard, Forbes, 6-7-04: "Try selling a server for $30,000 at a time when Dell sells a pair for $5,000 and you're toast. Ask Sun Microsystems about it. Sun has suffered declining revenue for 12 consecutive quarters. Harness the Cheap Revolution and you'll do just fine... The Cheap Revolution is with us and will not go away... Depending on the poll and the week, 40% to 55% of Americans now think the economy is in perilous shape. Huh? Growing at 4.5% and generating 300,000 jobs a month, the economy has never been so misunderstood and disrespected. My guess is that these unhappy 40% to 55% sense that they're on the wrong side of large, powerful forces. They may not attach a name to this - it's what I call the Cheap Revolution. But there's a chance these nervous folks work for companies like Sun or are themselves poorly positioned for the future. 30 million American jobs could disappear over the next 10 years. A few million will be offshored to cheap countries. Greater millions will vanish into software - 'exported to the land of productivity,' as U.S. Chamber of Commerce head Tom Donohue [said]. One must have faith, of course. History says better and more creative jobs will follow. They always have and always will."

Michael Gerber, The E-Myth: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What To Do About It: "Something is missing from most of our lives... What most people need, then, is a place of community that has purpose, order and meaning... A place that replaces the home most of us have lost. That's what a business can do. It can become that place of community [for both employees and customers]."

Willa A. Foster: "Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction, and skillful execution. It represents the wise choice of many alternatives."

Samuel Johnson: "Excellence in any department can be attained only by the labor of a lifetime; it is not to be purchased at a lesser price."

John H. Holcomb: "You must get involved to have an impact. No one is impressed with the won-loss record of the referee."

Galatians 6.4-5, The Message: "Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life."

William Morris: "A good way to rid one's self of a sense of discomfort is to do something. That uneasy, dissatisfied feeling is actual force vibrating out of order [which yearns to give] proper expression to its creative character."



Editor's note: Dr. Deming, credited with teaching the Japanese "quality," principles which would transform them into an industrial superpower, is one of the great management consultants, and one of the great thinkers, of the 20th century.


W. Edward Deming's 14 points
by Phil Cohen


W. Edwards Deming was an American statistician who was credited with the rise of Japan as a manufacturing nation, and with the invention of Total Quality Management (TQM). Deming went to Japan just after the War to help set up a census of the Japanese population. While he was there, he taught 'statistical process control' to Japanese engineers - a set of techniques which allowed them to manufacture high-quality goods without expensive machinery. In 1960 he was awarded a medal by the Japanese Emperor for his services to that country's industry.

Deming returned to the US and spent some years in obscurity before the publication of his book "Out of the crisis" in 1982. In this book, Deming set out 14 points which, if applied to US manufacturing industry, would he believed, save the US from industrial doom at the hands of the Japanese.

Although Deming does not use the term Total Quality Management in his book, it is credited with launching the movement. Most of the central ideas of TQM are contained in "Out of the crisis".

The 14 points seem at first sight to be a rag-bag of radical ideas, but the key to understanding a number of them lies in Deming's thoughts about variation. Variation was seen by Deming as the disease that threatened US manufacturing. The more variation - in the length of parts supposed to be uniform, in delivery times, in prices, in work practices - the more waste, he reasoned.

From this premise, he set out his 14 points for management, which we have paraphrased here:

1."Create constancy of purpose towards improvement." Replace short-term reaction with long-term planning.

2."Adopt the new philosophy." The implication is that management should actually adopt his philosophy, rather than merely expect the workforce to do so.

3."Cease dependence on inspection." If variation is reduced, there is no need to inspect manufactured items for defects, because there won't be any.

4."Move towards a single supplier for any one item." Multiple suppliers mean variation between feedstocks.

5."Improve constantly and forever." Constantly strive to reduce variation.

6."Institute training on the job." If people are inadequately trained, they will not all work the same way, and this will introduce variation.

7."Institute leadership." Deming makes a distinction between leadership and mere supervision. The latter is quota- and target-based.

8."Drive out fear." Deming sees management by fear as counter- productive in the long term, because it prevents workers from acting in the organisation's best interests.

9."Break down barriers between departments." Another idea central to TQM is the concept of the 'internal customer', that each department serves not the management, but the other departments that use its outputs.

10."Eliminate slogans." Another central TQM idea is that it's not people who make most mistakes - it's the process they are working within. Harassing the workforce without improving the processes they use is counter-productive.

11."Eliminate management by objectives." Deming saw production targets as encouraging the delivery of poor-quality goods.

12."Remove barriers to pride of workmanship." Many of the other problems outlined reduce worker satisfaction.

13."Institute education and self-improvement."

14."The transformation is everyone's job."

Deming has been criticised for putting forward a set of goals without providing any tools for managers to use to reach those goals (just the problem he identified in point 10). His inevitable response to this question was: "You're the manager, you figure it out."

"Out of the crisis" is over 500 pages long, and it is not possible to do full justice to it in a 600 word article. If the above points interest you, we recommend the book for further information.



Editor's last word: