Healthy Competition LO18190 -Naval Aviation

John Constantine (
Mon, 25 May 1998 08:54:33 -0600

Replying to LO18171 --

Rol makes a good point in linking this thread to that of employee ranking.
May I extend the thinking a bit?

in Rick's post:

>In Naval Aviation, (1) not everyone can do it, (2) there are real
>differences individual to individual, (3) these differences can be
>observed with available resources, and the (4) performance is critical.

Is that "sufficient" to answer Rick's second paragraph implications?

>What about Deming who says, "Most all problems are due to the system!"
>I think the system has it's impact, but what's different in the case
>of carrier pilots are the four points above."

I think not, for the following reasons:

1. While it may be true that "not everyone can do it", the fact remains
that not everyone was asked to do it in the general population, only those
who "applied for work" in in the "field" of Naval Aviation, an almost
infinitely small population, already filtered by "the system" prior to
their participation. Does that in any way discount Deming's reference to
the overall system? No. Reason: the "system" is already responsible for
identifying, training, and operationalizing the pilots.

2. While there may be "real differences" (not operationally defined)
between individuals within "the system", as would be expected in ANY
population, does that in any way discount Deming's reference to the
overall system? No. Reason: The pilots can be graded and even the "most
perfect" still "fail", as in the case of carrier landings in bad weather.

3. Such "differences", undefined, might be observed with "available
resources" (not operationally defined); does that diminish Deming's
reference in some way? No. Reason: Such differences today may not be the
same tomorrow, given tomorrow's variations.

4. The performance of the pilots is "critical" (not operationally defined,
though we can probably guess what that means in the extreme). Does that
diminish Deming's reference to "the system". No. Reason: there are many
whose activities might be termed "critical", from the doorman to the CEO
within public and private organizations and, if the truth were only known,
had effected or prevented "critical" events from occurring. Was it more
important or less important that the captain of the ship chose the course
he did, "flew" or didn't fly the planes that day, at that time, in that
weather, after so many prior flights and landings? Or is it ONLY
significant that the pilots flew and landed safely? And THAT was recorded.

Bottom line? Rick's second paragraph, referring to Deming's comments as to
the "system" as the majority of the "problem" is no more significant, in
my view, than the first, since it points out the four areas above which
are, in themselves, evidence of system variation, and the limits upon
those working (or flying) within the system. It is never as simple as it
seems at first glance.

Hence, the reason and the rationale for the Red Bead Experiment.

Rol's system is NOT the same as Rick's system. Each has its own
peculiarities and should be looked at, and improved upon, within that
context. One nice thing about utilizing supports the
identification of elements within the system that we are looking at, in
relation to the overall system. Those elements operating within the system
which is in statistical conrol are simply doing what they are supposed to
be doing, as "allowed by" the system itself, while those operating OUTSIDE
the system may be rightfully considered SPECIAL and dealt with

(I recently observed a "team performance" competition in a six billion
corporation. After one team "won" and the other "lost", I asked if the
participants could identify any areas which might have impacted on the
final results, anything which could have added to or interfered with the
teams' performance. Caught up as they were in the frenzy of "our team
won", vs. "their team lost!", they settled down and came up with over
twenty areas which affected the competition, none of which involved the
participants themselves but, nonetheless impacted on the eventual result.
Some were time, speakers, light, location, number of questions,
"machines", sequence of questions, amount of sleep of each team and team
member, interaction of team members, etc., etc. One interesting
comment..."that's the way it is in the real world.")

How right they were.

Sorry for the length.



John Constantine Rainbird Management Consulting PO Box 23554 Santa Fe, NM 87502-3554 Rainbird@Trail.Com

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