T&D/PI: I Disagree With the Notion That One Should Think Outside the Box

Yes – I’m Playing with the Semantics of It

The Box – to me – is synonymous with The Requirements. Playing outside the requirements might be the thing to do. But that would be atypical IMO.


Whether your intent is to determine/define new Products or Services, or to determine/define new or changed Processes and then to create and render new or existing Products/Services to the marketplace – there’s a box you must work within.

And that box, again, are the limits established by the Stakeholder Requirements.

Which in a perfect world NEVER conflict. And we do not live in a perfect, zero defect world. All due to that that normal variation jazz that statisticians often yammer about.

Stakeholders – it turns out – are not always in perfect alignment. In agreement with each other. Deferential to each other’s concerns.


Stakeholders, including, but beyond Customers.

The Customer IS NOT, as they sometimes say, the QUEEN, or the KING, or the TWO-EYED JACKS (or whatever are the wild cards in the House Rules at your house).


Years ago, 25 years this month in fact, I was published in the Journal for Quality & Participation (March 1995) on “Balancing Conflicting Stakeholder Requirements” written in a Ft. Worth hotel room one evening after a client, in a highly regulated environment, kept on yammering about “The Customer Is King” day after day one week while I was on site. And she was a supposed Deming-ite.

W. Edwards Deming, if you’ll recall, abhorred slogans.

And I kept thinking about her enterprise’s stakeholders. Customers, for sure. But also those Regulators who sometimes were seen crawling (literally) all over the place. And then there were the Executives with their fiduciary responsibilities to the Shareholders. And the Employees. And their Suppliers.

It was all rather complex – and quite frankly the nativity expressed in that wall poster slogan, that The Customer is King, was beginning to irk me.

So to get it off my chest and out of my head, I started the article – available here – as a 6 page PDF.


Depending on the size/dimensions of your box – there is perhaps a lot of room to play around with. Or … damn little.

Life is like that.

Who are the Aces and Wild Cards in your deck at work? Who is higher than the Kings – those Customers – whose needs you must meet – at least better than the competition – their alternatives to you?

If you don’t know – you cannot give good guidance to Performers in the Workflow. In whatever Guidance, Job Aids, EPSS, or Performance Support you might arm them with. And that’s a shame. Because you will disrupt their workflow and/or cause errors, rework, recalls, Costs of Non-Conformance, etc., etc.

All sorts of not-good-for-the-bottom-line kinds of things.

And if your methods for Analysis don’t uncover that – then your methods are in need of some REWORK.

And so off to REWORK CITY you should go.


Or you could take the off-ramp – before REWORK CITY – and take the shortcut/detour around it – by figuring out the Balance of Stakeholder Requirements – if and when that is important to decisions in the Workflow – and arm the Performers in the Workflow.

Before – in training for memorization/recall – if their situation has no time for referencing references. Or giving them references – when there is time for references.

Focus on the Performance Requirements – and Enable Them.

# # #

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.