The People vs. System Conundrum

I would struggle to find a more elegant and succinct explanation of the misconceptions around “the 95/5” than this… Thank you, Flowchainsensei.

Think Different

The People vs. System Conundrum


I’ve seen recently that some folks have difficulty reconciling Deming’s 95% rule:

“Dr. Deming taught me that 95% of the performance of an organization is attributable to the system (processes, technology, work design, regulations, etc.) and [only] 5% is attributable to the individual.”

~ Tripp Babbitt

with Jerry Weinberg’s Second Law of Consulting:

“No matter how it looks at first, it’s always a people problem.”

~ Jerry Weinberg

I can appreciate the dilemma, but resolve it myself thusly:

It is always a people problem (as per Weinberg), but the solution is not to try to change the people (that’s a pointlessred herring). Rather, the solution is to change the system (as per Deming).

Even better is having the people (the workers) change the system themselves (with the active participation of management, so everyone can share the normative learning experience).

“It’s easier to…

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