The Quality of People

The following article takes inspiration from Elbert Hubbard’s 1899 article, A Message to Garcia


By Hedges Capers, M.A.     (Spring 1993)


Dr. W. Edwards Deming is 92 years old. He is credited with Japan’s national economic and manufacturing success and “may be the architect of management for the next decade.”

Perhaps Dr. Deming has something to say.

The lobby of the Sheraton Rosemont hotel was literally filled to capacity with Japanese businessmen. The businessmen were not here to study U.S. business. They were here to teach, to spread the message passed to them by Dr. Edward Deming … the message we had dismissed until 20 years ago, when the Japanese economy became the world’s most successful.

Simply put, the message is: “Your organization must be able to deliver a message to Garcia.”

One of Dr. Deming’s favorite principles is his 85/15 rule, which postulates that if there are problems within an organization, 85% of them are with the system and 15% are with the people. Philosophically, Deming believes WE ARE (most of us, most the time) ROWANS. We really want to do good work and contribute. It is the system from which we operate that has our messages (metaphorically) lost in email or delivered to the wrong address at the wrong time.

Consider the man who called a florist to deliver an arrangement to a friend’s grand opening, after recently relocating his business. Imagine the shock when he received a funeral wreath saying, “Rest in Peace.” When he called to complain, the florist sympathized, but added, “If you think you have problems, what about me? Somewhere in the city, there is a funeral taking place with a wreath saying, ‘Best of luck in your new location.”

Where are the Rowans when you need them?

As you view the problems in your organization, do you tend to think, “She just doesn’t care?” Or, “He just can’t cut it?” Or are you thinking, “My people are great. What is wrong with the system?”

Dr. Deming suggests that most likely there is something wrong in the Climate/System/Structure which prevents the Rowan within. Unleash it! Now!

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