Healthy Competition LO18195 -Naval Aviation

Richard Karash (
Mon, 25 May 1998 22:42:17 -0400 (EDT)

Replying to LO18190 --

Hello John -- Thanks for the reply. I'm not saying that the system has no
effect, just that in Naval Aviation, the individual effects vs. the system
effects are larger, and that performance is even more critical (i.e. life
and death) than in most business settings.

A few more specific comments below.

On Mon, 25 May 1998, John Constantine wrote:

> 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:

> 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.

As I understand Deming, and this reflects my own view as well, it is that
we need to weight individual differences vs. the contribution to variation
(and errors, problems, etc.) of the system and assess which is more
significant. He says, and I agree, that as managers and as participants,
we get carried away with perceived individual differences, with
competition, with pride in individual results when individual differences
are insignificant. Hence the Red Bead exercise to bring out this aspect of
human nature.

But, what if the individual differences *are* large (compared to the
system effects) and performance is critical? I just think the balance
might be different in Naval Aviation than in the corporate world.

In making these comments, I'm talking about the value of gathering and
making public the performance information (that was the original starting
point of this thread). I think this is appropriate in Naval Aviation
because of the points (1) to (4) above. With lives on the line, it's
essential to face the data without sugar-coating.

Thinking about it some more, I have two more to add to my list, which is
becoming a personal check list for determining if indiv performance
information should be gathered and shared:
(5) There are a number of interventions at the individual level that are
believed to be effective (e.g., CO or a fellow pilot talking with someone
having problems, specific practice and instruction, taking a break)
(6) The "system" has already been tuned pretty well to support high
performance, and the "system" is under continuous and rigorous scrutiny
for further improvement possibilities.

In my comments, weeding out the low performers is secondary.

-- Rick

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