Monday, January 15, 2018

Somewhere Deming is Nodding - Maybe: "Navy Looking to Add Rigor to SWO Candidate Training Ahead of Assignment to Ship Crew"

Back in the day (1984 or so), the U. S. Navy decided to bring Dr. Deming to the fight.

For those of you unfamiliar with Deming's work, you can read about his work in Total Quality Management here (the Navy called it "Total Quality Leadership') and many other places. However, as with many such initiatives, a new leadership team or two caused the Navy to adandon Deming.

I'll look at Deming's theory in depth later, but one pertinent point is that every business is a customer to some other business and the customer has to seek to improve the quality of the material it receives from its suppliers so that it will spend less time and effort trying to fix or return defective material it receives as it uses those materials to make it own products.

Here's video in which Deming discusses a couple of his 14 Points - starting about 1:38, Deming notes that "finding what's wrong is not improvement of the process ... that managing defects, not looking at the system that produces the defects . . ."

With that as a lead-in, here's what the Navy has set out as a plan:

  1.   After finding a defect (junior officers who are "defective" in their watchstanding and professional skills);
  2.   actually took a look at the system that sends these officers to enter the fleet;
  3.   developed a plan to correct or eliminate those defects before they get to the customer - the customer being the fleet, the supplier being the Navy's personnel and training command.

So, is it a systemic fix or  a plan for a fix? Or putting out fires?

Navy Looking to Add Rigor to SWO Candidate Training Ahead of Assignment to Ship Crew
Adm. Phil Davidson said that, after leading a 60-day effort to compile the Comprehensive Review of Recent Surface Forces Incidents after several surface ship collisions last year, he is dedicated to adding more rigor to individual and unit-level assessments – with a particular eye on the seamanship and navigation training and assessments for SWO candidates.

“If you don’t have the underpinning foundation across the board – SWO candidates, your qualified SWOs on the ship, department head, [executive officer], [commanding officer] – then you’re short of an element of the team,” Davidson told reporters after giving a keynote speech at the annual Surface Navy Association symposium.
“My assessment of the team assessment, and SWO candidate training especially, it’s not sufficient enough when it comes to seamanship and navigation. You end up with conning officers and JOODs (junior officers of the deck) who [don’t] have sufficient depth to be part of the team from the outset, and that’s what we want to get to. JOOD is a role, conning officer is a role. They have to be competent in those roles when they step aboard a ship, and to have them be students aboard those ships is too much of a burden.”

This need for young officers to be proficient from their first day on an operational ship’s crew was highlighted by the fatal collision between destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) and a merchant ship last summer. At the time of the collision, Davidson said during his speech, “there were only two ranks on watch: the CO, and ensigns.”

As a result, Davidson said SWO candidate training would be lengthened and would include more rigorous training and assessment on seamanship and navigation, damage control, risk assessment and other fundamentals.
Okay, so far as it goes.

Deming has 14 points, as you've seen, they are all inter-related. Will the Navy be bold enough to adopt all 14? Or is this just an effort to fix one piece of a larger problem withour addressing the other parts of the "system" that are in need of continuous improvement?

Here's an interesting piece from when it became apparent that the Navy was giving up on Deming, Imminent Demise of Deming in the Navy:
How do we make Quality/Deming theory relevant to warfighting ON THE BATTLEFIELD? To address this, we need to demonstrate links between Quality/Deming theory and military theory. We need to be able to use military history to empirically demonstrate the effectiveness of Quality/Deming theory in enhancing COMBAT-EFFECTIVENESS (we are addressing a group of (understandably) empirical people). Nothing else can impress our target audience. We are presently unequal to this task because it requires knowledge of military theory and history that is almost universally lacking among us, even those of us who are in the military. We can not hope to win unless we adopt this approach. In its absence, the military is right to reject Quality, Deming, and theory as irrelevant.
Some would look to the Boyd OODA loop as being akin to Deming's "Plan, Do, Check, Act" (PDCA) but others note differences:
The P-D-C-A cycle or loop is primarily an analytical approach that can be used with great success in a completely internal manner. One does not need to consult the external environment or adjust to unfolding circumstances to make the P-D-C-A loop work. P-D-C-A can be used with great success on the shop floor with the data that is available. Analysis which involves the use of a more or less complete data set to reach a conclusion. We use the data to make a decision about how to proceed, we than check and act to confirm or reject the hypothesis that our analysis has led us to.

O-O-D-A is more concerned with synthesizing an action out of an incomplete data set. Since we can never recognize all of the variables that we are forced to deal with in any environment, we must be able to make a decision that we believe will give us the highest probability for success. The synthesis of an action from the observation and orientation of a complex and mysterious environment, subject to frequent and unpredictable change, is the essence of the O-O-D-A loop.
Hmm.  I agree that PDCA can be internal - but the process also calls for going "outside" to partner with "suppliers:"
Even today many organizations treat suppliers as adversaries to beat at the negotiating table. Dr. Deming explained that the organization was a system that included the suppliers and customers. You need to manage and continually improve that entire system.

And to do so most effectively you need to partner with your suppliers over the long term. You need to treat them as partners. Saying they are partners is nearly worthless. What matters is how you operate. . .
If your "supplier" is providing personnel - isn't it vital that the supplier knows what traits you need in your workers, or in the case of the Surface Navy, what the traits are that make a good "surface warfare officer?" Can these traits be tested for? Can the desired traits be taught?

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