Book 5

Dr Deming’s Experiment With Red Beads

People work in a system, it is the job of the manager to understand that system and improve it. Everyone helps.

A simple enough concept, and who would wish to take issue with it?  But, what happens when ideals like this are confronted by the need to hit targets, raise quality, cut costs, keep the workers busy?

The Experiment with Red Beads is a simple ‘table top’  simulation created in 1982 by William Boller of Hewlett-Packard.

wed ph photo

It is a brilliant and compelling demonstration of 3rd Generation Management thinking and became a mainstay of Dr Deming’s seminars right up to his death in 1993.

The author was fortunate enough to take part in this demonstration with Dr Deming, several times (see photo).

He has run the experiment himself over 100 times since then, to the delight of thousands of observers.

This book explains the background to the experiment and provides a detailed video of a ‘live’ experiment complete with screen-in-screen commentary. The rest of the book is dedicated to exploring a different view of the data and what this might mean for management of a system. There are numerous exercises and thinking points to help you to experience variability and connect to the key learning points from the video.

The lessons from the Red Bead Experiment are many and profound, and there can be no substitute for actually taking part in the experiment under the watchful eye of an experienced manager.  So what would be the next best thing?

At 4GM e-Academy, we would like to think this book is.

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