Is Your Obsession with Schedule Killing Your Quality?

Time to LearnA couple weeks ago, I went to the W. Edwards Deming Institute pre-conference facilitated by David Langford of Langford Learning. During his workshop David talked about how teachers give a test over material on a date. The test date and schedule of learning is set in stone, but the quality of the learning is flexible – flexible meaning that the student’s knowledge of the material is of less importance than the date. The student learning is compromised by the date.

After some reflection, it occurred to meet that this is what happens in programs and projects in organizations. They set a date, put together a project plan and all focus is to hit the date. The quality is questionable when delivered, but the date is hit. This is completely backwards from the thinking that should prevail.

Our projects, plans and programs have come with more rigor around the dates. Project managers are used to carefully schedule and track progress on Gantt charts – this doesn’t solve the glaring systemic issues in management, design, culture and quality.  In fact, in many organizations if you try to suggest improvements during the course of a project you are informed that this would compromise the delivery date and probably some incentive for hitting the date. Good quality work be damned!

If education and other organizations want to deliver quality students, products or services, then the focus needs to be on the method and not the date. Otherwise, waste and mediocrity will continue to prevail in our systems.

Take a look at your organization as your customers see it – our 4-day workshop has been called “an awakening experience.” You will understand the customer view of your organization and take inventory of the assumptions, beliefs and perspectives that drive performance. Tripp Babbitt is a service design architect and organizational futurist. His company helps service organizations understand future trends, culture and customer. The 95 Method designs organizations to improve the comprehensive customer experience while improving culture and management effectiveness. Read his column at Quality Digest and his articles for PEX and CallCenterIQ. Reach him on Twitter at or LinkedIn at

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