Combining Deming and Lean Principles to Improve a Marketing System

by Michael Hoffman

Recently, our marketing system faced a challenge when one of our interns accidentally sent over a thousand emails to customers when he only intended to send one. This mistake could have resulted in significant damage to our company’s reputation and customer trust. However, instead of simply blaming the intern for the mistake, we took a step back and examined our marketing system using a combination of Deming and Lean principles.

Firstly, we identified that our instructions lacked clarity and that our software needed better safeguards. After a thorough review of the marketing system, we realized that the intern missed a critical step while sending the email, which led to the mistake. The instructions failed to mention that the intern should check if the software was set to send the email to all subscribers instead of just the intended recipient. Additionally, our software didn’t have adequate safeguards in place to prevent such a mistake from happening.

Next, we applied Deming’s approach of treating business as a system, which helped us to see the intern’s mistake as a failure in the process rather than as an individual error. We recognized that the intern was doing his best and that the system was flawed. By examining our marketing system, we were able to identify two areas where we could make improvements. Firstly, we revised the instructions to include a step that specifically guides the user to check if the software is set to send the email to all subscribers. Secondly, we added new safeguards to our process to prevent similar mistakes from happening again.

Finally, we applied Lean principles to eliminate waste and create flow in our processes. We recognized that by creating clearer instructions and adding safeguards to our process, we could prevent similar mistakes from happening again, thus reducing waste and improving efficiency. Additionally, we focused on respect for people, which is a key aspect of Lean principles. We worked with the intern to identify areas where we could improve the process and prevent similar mistakes in the future.

Through the application of Deming and Lean principles, we were able to identify process gaps and make necessary improvements to our marketing system. This experience taught us the importance of process improvement, the value of treating business as a system, and the benefits of adopting Lean principles to eliminate waste and create flow. We encourage all businesses to adopt a similar approach to process improvement to ensure long-term success.

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