Tag: quotes

Quotes from Deming



On Focus:

The average American worker has fifty interruptions a day, of which seventy percent have nothing to do with work.

On Expectations:

It is not enough to do your best; you must know what to do, and then do your best.

On Customers:

No customer ever asked for the electric light, the pneumatic tire, the VCR, or the CD. All customer expectations are only what you and your competitor have led him to expect. He knows nothing else.


All from W. Edward Deming

Two Notes from ‘Quiet’

In reading Susan Cain’s ‘Quiet,’ recommended by my colleagues Paul and Gus (and others), there have been two notable takeaways for me. I’m only about eighty pages in, and I’ve learned a lot about introversion and how society works (or fails to work) for folks who think that way.

Like anyone, though, when I have a hammer, all I see are nails. Two neat things I’ve picked up:

The Bus to Abilene:

…a family sitting on a porch in Texas on a hot summer day, and somebody says, ‘I’m bored. Why don’t we go to Abilene?’ When they get to Abilene, somebody says, ‘You know, I didn’t really want to go.’ And the next person says, ‘I didn’t want to go–I thought you wanted to go,’ and so on. Whenever you’re in an army group and somebody says, ‘I think we’re getting on the bus to Abilene here,’ that is a red flag. You can stop a conversation with it. It is a very powerful artifact of our [the army’s] culture.

I’m guilty of this, both as the suggestion-giver and the go-along-with participant. Having a name for it will be helpful in the future.

Solitude and Creativity:

If solitude is an important key to creativity – then we might all want to develop a taste for it. We’d want to teach our kids to work independently. We’d want to give employees plenty of privacy and autonomy. Yet increasingly we do just the opposite.

This resonates with me as coming from the same place that inspired Solitude in Leadership, a piece I’ve written about in the past. Even as someone who waffles between introversion and extroversion, I appreciate and value time spent alone, sometimes in quiet reflection, sometimes daydreaming.

To This, We Say Yes!

After a few failed attempts, The Doctor and I finally had a chance to watch a movie that I’ve been very excited about for some time: Jodorowsky’s Dune. Here’s the trailer:


Besides being a really wonderful documentary about a radical retelling of a story I’ve loved my whole life, it is also an exploration of a sort of genius that seems missing from today’s world: skating on the edge of insanity, blending Continental philosophy with art and literature and comics, finding and delivering meaning in unusual and sometimes delightful places.

I find Alejandro Jodorowsky inspiring for many reasons, not the least of which is his intense lifelong ability to simply ship prolifically – the man has published books, made films, collaborated with artists and scientists – but also his approach to his work, to The Work. He says two things in the documentary about his attempt at filming Dune that have stuck with me.

“Things come, you say yes. Things go away, you say yes.”

Jodorowsky’s approach is ever-progressive – not in a political way necessarily, but in terms of forward momentum. Even when Dune, what could have been a masterpiece, was canned, his response was Yes! If the world is a certain way, you must progress anyway – you must say yes! You must say yes even if you go on to change it. This approach shines positivity and momentum, two things I try to reflect upon and embrace in my own work, and my own thoughts. It encourages action, rather than reaction.

“Why not be ambitious?”

Alejandro is again responding to the documentarian’s questions about the failure of Dune, and even in the face of failure, he shows no regret or remorse. He does not wish that he had held back his ambition, that he had quieted his desires to make a consciousness-altering movie – he instead faces it with defiance and grit: why not be ambitious? Why be on this world if not to make world-changing things?

Jodorowsky’s Dune could have been great, and I do wish that it could have been completed, but the real thing I have taken from the documentary is an inspiration to have a little more Alejandro in my own life – to allow a little madness in around the edges, to allow myself to be ambitious and to grasp for great things, to make and discuss and get a little wild. To this, I say yes!