Deming Conference Offers Transforming Ideas

Henrik Minassians, Tseng College Director of Regional and National Partnerships and Services for Public Sector

(Oct. 13, 2014) - California State University, Northridge’s Tseng College looks forward to the annual Innovation for Success Conference Oct. 17-19 at the Airtel Plaza Hotel in Van Nuys. The W. Edwards Deming Institute collaborates with CSUN for the conference, with presenters including Harry Hellenbrand, CSUN provost and vice president of academic affairs; and representatives of government agencies and businesses.

“The Deming conference encourages people to develop a better understanding of systems thinking,” said Henrik Minassians, Ph.D., the Tseng College’s director of regional and national partnerships for public sector. Systems thinking focuses on how each section or part of a system relates to the whole, and the overall purpose and goals of an organization. “Currently, thinking and training within the public sector focuses on the nuts and bolts of things, creating a silo mentality and behavior,” said Minassians, associate professor of urban studies and planning at CSUN and a conference planner. “We hope that over time, by educating more public sector employees and managers in this area, we can create better systems-thinking principles.”

Minassians serves on the planning committee of the conference, along with CSUN marketing professor Deborah Cours, Ph.D. and Master of Public Administration faculty Ravi Roy, Ph.D. MPA students also will attend. “This is a great collaboration between CSUN and the Deming Institute,” Minassians said.

Cours noted the importance of “seeing the whole” to improve a system. “A team approach, like what Deming taught, views us as a complex, integrated system, in which the team in incentivized by what’s best for the team – not the individual units,” said Cours, the academic lead for the Tseng College’s Graduate Certificate in Business Administration. “For example, marketing works with research and design so that consumer needs are considered early. Accounting can help in early design and cost. The operations team needs to be present, because a simple change in design affects production efficiency.”

Deming’s management ideas break through bureaucratic routines and emphasize “14 points of total quality management,” that focus on continual improvement, communication within an organization and breaking down barriers among staff and continuous process improvement. His “7 Deadly Diseases” focus on avoiding excessive costs, misplaced emphasis on short-term profits and poor management.

As the ASQ notes on its web site describing Deming’s goals, “Everyone must understand the vision, mission and guiding principles as well as the quality policies, objectives and critical processes of the organization.”