Who Was Peter Scholtes and What Did He Say About The System?

Who Was Peter Scholtes and What Did He Say About The System?

Peter Scholtes was a respected author, consultant, and expert on quality management and leadership. He was born on August 29, 1939, in Madison, Wisconsin, and passed away on February 7, 2009. He is best known for his work on quality improvement and management, particularly in the context of the Total Quality Management (TQM) movement.

One of Scholtes’ key contributions to the field of quality management was his emphasis on the importance of understanding and improving the system (the way the work works). He argued that problems are often the result of flawed systems, and that in order to truly improve quality, cost, etc., organisations must focus on improving their systems rather than blaming individuals.

Scholtes also emphasised the importance of involving all employees in the quality improvement process, not just those in leadership positions. He believed that by empowering employees to identify and solve problems within the system, organisations could achieve significant and sustainable improvements.

In his book “The Leader’s Handbook: A Guide to Inspiring Your People and Managing the Daily Workflow,” Scholtes famously stated, “95% of the performance of an organisation is attributable to the system (processes, technology, equipment, materials, and environment) and 5% is attributable to the people. The role of management is to change the system rather than badgering individuals to do better.”

Note: This is often attributed to Bill Deming as “Deming’s 95:5”.

Overall, Scholtes was a significant figure in the field of quality management, and his emphasis on understanding and improving the system continues to be influential today.


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