Dr. Deming and Japan with John Willis

Dr. Deming and Japan with John Willis

by Patrick Adams | Aug 8, 2023

In this episode, John Willis and I discuss his upcoming book as well as key moments from our recent trip to Japan.

What You’ll Learn:

1.) John’s upcoming book about Dr. Deming.

2.) Why Deming still matters today.

3.) What Mr. Yosino. said about Mr. Nemoto.

4.) What Mr. Youshino said about Dr. Deming.

5.) What were my favorite parts of Katie’s Japan Study?

About the Guest:  John Willis is Senior Director of the Global Transformation Office at Red Hat Prior to Red Hat, he was the Director of Ecosystem Development for Docker, which he joined after the company he co-founded (SocketPlane, which focused on SDN for containers) was acquired by Docker in February 2015. Previous to founding SocketPlane in Fall 2014, John was the Chief DevOps Evangelist at Dell, which he joined following the Enstratius acquisition in May 2013. He has also held past executive roles at Chef and Canonical. John was one of the earliest cloud evangelists and is considered one of the founders of the Devops movement. John is the author of 7 IBM Redbooks. He is also the co-author of the “Devops Handbook” and “Beyond the Phoenix Project” along with author Gene Kim.


Click here for more information on Deming

⁠Click here to connect with John on LinkedIn⁠

⁠Click here for The Lean Solutions Summit 


Patrick Adams  00:00

Hello, and welcome to the Lean solutions podcast. My guest today is John Willis. John recently served as the Senior Director of the Global Transformation Office at Red Hat. Prior to Red Hat. He was the director of ecosystem development for Docker, which he joined after the company he co founded was acquired by Docker in February of 2015. John was one of the earliest cloud evangelists and is considered one of the founders of the DevOps movement. John is the author of seven IBM Redbooks. He is also the co author of the DevOps handbook, and beyond the Phoenix Project. Welcome to the show, John.


John Willis  01:09

Hey, Patrick. Great. I’m really excited about being on your podcast. 


Patrick Adams  01:14

I’m looking forward to diving in. John, you and I were recently in Japan together with Katie Anderson. So we got to know each other very well during our trip together. And we had some really, really great conversations, I hope to talk a little bit about that trip today on the on the podcast, and just maybe dive into some of our takeaways that we had together while we were over in Japan.


John Willis  01:38

Yep, absolutely.


Patrick Adams  01:40

But before we do that, you know, I want to talk a little bit about your upcoming book, which we discussed in detail while we were in Japan, specifically about Dr. Deming, but for those that are listening in that may not know who Dr. Deming is, do you mind giving, you know, everyone just kind of maybe a little bit of background and introduction to Dr. Deming, before we dive into a little bit. Go ahead.



It’s funny, you know, when you you write a book, right, one of the things you do is do the exercises that I hired a consultant and you put a define a target reader, I sort of broke the rule, I defined three target readers, and one was my mother in law. And she reads about two or three books a month, you know, everything from historical fiction to a lot of romance novels and stuff like that. But she’s she’s an avid reader, and I thought what a perfect target for this book. Because I want people like you to read it and say, Wow, that was great book. And I want my mother in law, who knows nothing about it technology lien doesn’t even know what those words mean. And the way she called me after she read the book was, Wow, I’m surprised I never heard this guy. And in the story is, you know, that sort of the narrative of his life is incredible. I mean, he, you know, he starts out at the beginning of the second scientific revolution, you know, quantum physics is literally getting a degree in mathematical physics, in the 20s 1920s, right? So imagine all the stuff that’s going on there, right? And comes out and sort of gravitates to statistics. He is the first person to add sampling to the Census Bureau, so revolutionize how we do census. And literally, first and foremost, even though he was a physicist, you know, sort of literature, he was a musician, but but he calls himself a statistician. And, and he really, in the early days, doesn’t get much credit, but really sort of, you know, defined a lot of the early work in analytical statistics, in fact, define the whole space code. And then World War Two is kicks off. And he gets pulled in to create some improvement training at Stanford trains about 3000 managers, just like the beginning of World War Two, in how to use factory improvements, statistical process analysis, to process control all these things, the blast radius, that is like 30,000. In my book, I have quotes from generals who proclaim that that was one of the reasons we’ve won the war. Right, was his quote, I mean, because if you think about what was going on here is all the factory workers went off to war. And all of a sudden, their retirees and women are getting forced into a domain they have no expertise in. And so it has to be some almost miraculous program. And the output of our tanks, our planes were just our ships were just phenomenally. There’s a book by David Huddleston. And I covered this in my book to like when the Japanese would capture that because they had a group of statistical quality analysis people on their side right They capture a plane of us playing. And they said they’d be sickened by the gap in quality. Right? So he does that. Then he goes and does a bunch of top secret work working with Norbert Wiener working, you know, the guy the father of cybernetics, Herbert Simon, even Claude Shannon, right. And you know, and, you know, just basically, Ackoff, if you know, sort of Ackoff, these are on people, they’re in a top secret program to help figure out like, all these sorts of radio transmissions, all just tons of things. It’s all classified. After the war, MacArthur sets up a rebuilding of Japan, he sends Deming over, and Deming is credited, in a lot of cases for what they call the miracle in Japan. And, you know, part of my book is I create direct correlation as to his impact on Toyota. We can talk a little bit about like when we had the conversation Yoshino in Katie’s book, and he was part of our Japan trip, and I asked him directly, what was the impact of Deming, and we talked about that a little. So he does that, right. And then he comes back us and they throw all his work out, you know, the men come back from war, like, watch this stuff. You know, this is nonsense. It’s not how you do manufacturing. And then he’s literally living outside of DC as an 80 year old octogenarian. Right and, and NBC does this documentary who the accidentally find about some work he’s doing with, you know, with a company that’s doing a collaboration with a printing company in Japan, they do a documentary called if Japan can, why can’t we? Interview Deming, and then all of America realizes, Oh, my God, the reason Japan is like, decimating us in everything, especially cars, right, Toyota, Nissan, and Honda, the American taught them how to do it. I mean, that’s the gist of the thing. And so the next thing, you know, Ford, the president of Ford calls him and says, Come on in it, that means like this classic, like, he won’t work with you, unless you like the CEO is involved. And he’s, you have to be involved in Peterson, who’s the CEO for the times, like, Oh, I’m the CEO. He’s like, he hangs out. Like, there’s like I have all this, you know, like, I tried to describe that, like, the book is like, a really smart, Forrest Gump character literally sort of goes through. So it’s not a biography. It’s sort of like a Michael Lewis, if you ever read Moneyball, or, you know, where you don’t know that it’s a biography. And that’s what I tried to do in the book. I didn’t want to just write another sort of, you know, damning book, you know, I wanted to give this sort of flare of these incredible stories, and I’ve got, like, hundreds of them. And, and so anyway, that sparks the quality revolution. Right? It literally sparks it leads to like better good, Lean Six Sigma. I mean, all this stuff literally comes down to that. And then you know, the thing I think I find most fascinating. He from 19, it’s showing he’s basically dormant, from from about, like, 1962 to 1980. He’s literally an unknown, he’s not really doing much. He’s still in work, right? He’s doing the Jura metrics, like statistics. And then the documentary hits and everybody wants him GM, Ford, Panasonic. Pfizer, I mean, just the list goes on and on. And he was actually a park, you know. And so here’s the thing that I think is the most fascinating Dr. Smith. Imagine you’re 80 years old? Well, first of all, he’s 50 When he starts to miracle in Japan, at when he’s 80. And for the next decade, he does the most prolific work in his life, non stop. I mean, working with CEOs of the largest corporations world revolutionising the way I even have a car story of about a guy who was involved in the earliest days of autonomous vehicles, at GM, you know, like literally before, there were autonomous vehicles, right. And like, he tells the story, how he worked with Deming, I got to interview these fascinating people, and, and at 90 are basically slash book 993 He published a book called neuro economics and he basically creates his manifesto. So from 80 to 93, he literally does the most significant work like it at I don’t know if I’ll be around at 80 but 93 and, and he writes his book, no economics, and he defined something which again, this is the core of my book called The system of profound knowledge. In You know, I can get into that a little bit more about the book and all but it’s these sort of four. It’s a lens look like for sort of the Mmm parameters of a lens to understand complexity. And that’s the year he published a book that year he dies. And it’s, it’s his Capstone. So but again, in the end uses so many more stories of you know, even like he he wrote the data, you talked about the music, he wrote the the funeral song for his funeral. He just like incredible, like, Forrest Gump like character in our world, you know, so.


Patrick Adams  10:33

Right. Yeah, it’s amazing. And so what do you think if, you know, again, I know that we only have so much time here. But if you were to to, you know, point to a couple areas that Dr. Deming, you know, was was used to find success with the work that he did in Japan, let’s say, what would you point those two? I mean, I think about a couple of things, obviously, you know, he, he was a data guy. And data was an important piece for a lot of the data made sure that decisions were made based on data. You know, are there any any other things that that you would point to and say, you know, this is why he had so much success with the work that was done in Japan.



Yeah, absolutely. So I mean, you know, kind of quickly that the system we’re found now is made up of these four parameters as a lens collection. The first is knowledge. And it’s epistemology. It’s scientific method. It’s inductive reasoning, and even goes back to pragmatism, I covered the history of pragmatism, in my book, even some like nerdy Well, guys who were brilliant, that have things like incredibly terrible people. And, and but it is that sort of how do we know what we believe we know? Right, you know, for that inductive process, go all the way back to Francis Bacon. The second parameter is variation. This is the data part, analytical statistics. How do we analyze, analyze and understand what we know? The third piece is Psychology. How do we account for human behavior, motivation, intrinsic motivation, you can already see like a guy like you to think very hard, like this is incredible, even adding that as a parameter, and the last the system thinking, so So to put that in perspective of all of Japan, but certainly Toyota. So one of the first things that the Japanese started talking about is what they call the Deming Wheel, which actually started out with a guy named Dr. Xu et who was a mentor to Deming. And basically that ultimately becomes Plan Do Check Act. And now we know it is planned to study and in fact, Deming renamed it to plan do study act, right? So that’s basically theory and knowledge. Variation is the data part, right? Statistical analytical statistics, statistical process control. So and then, psychology, right human behavior, I would say in my book, I make the proposition. The Deming learned more from the Japanese. This ties to our trip and what we learned about their trust, communication, collaboration, I think I’ve got enough evidence that when Deming went over that he fell in love with that culture, and started seeking things. You know, my theory was He added that third parameter, primarily from his learnings in Japan. And then the fourth is system thinking, the bigger picture, and if you remember when I asked you, Tino so on the trip, right, Tino, who’s CEO Yoshino in Katie’s wonderful book, right? The I got to ask him, he hired Toyota in 1966, right, like he was just coming off the wave of the 50s and 60s, right. And, and I asked him have Demings impact at Toyota? And he said, Willie, I’ll boil it down to two things. One, he said, he taught us to understand data is knowledge. He taught the Japanese he said, and he taught us systems thinking. Now we know that like PDS PDSA PDCA, was a big part of it. And I would argue that psychology was something he got from there, seeing that intrinsic way of working. And the human anatomy was a humanist. If you if you can say anything about him, he very much like you, you know, we were talking before the thing about your camp and all that you you’re human, you’re a humanist, like you care about the human condition. And that’s another sort of compelling thread of this man. He can, you know, above all, like, you can see us all his quotes all day long, and people can play the the red bead game and all that stuff. But at the end of the day, he cared deeply about the human condition. So yeah, I’d say three of those parameters. He directly influenced and we know that from Yoshino saying that and in the psychology one is one he pulled back which actually became his final manifesto, which is system of profound knowledge.


Patrick Adams  14:59

Love it. I’m looking forward to, to your book coming out and being able to dive into that. Can you give before we talk a little bit more about our trip to Japan and some of the learnings there? Can you tell our listeners that title? Where will it be available? When will it be available? If they’re interested?



Yeah, it’s called Demmings journey to profound knowledge. It’s our it’s gonna it’s published by IT revolution. So the people who publish gene Kim’s the Phoenix Project, and my dad and the DevOps handbook, and I’ve got another book on investments I’m going to but yeah, it’s so and August 8, I mean, can’t wait. It’s been, it’s been 10 years and waiting. It’s three years serious working on it. And obviously, less than a month, like I know how you must have felt like less than a month, you can order it online right now. It literally is out on Amazon, the Kindle version, there’s apparently, for sort of larger scale publishers, there’s still a sort of delay in the supply chain of physical books. So so the physical book will come out in in January, but the Kindle version is already up for sale on, on Amazon. Again, Deming. Deming is profound journey to, to profound knowledge. And, you know, and one of the things I’ll quickly say, too, is that one of the things I tried in the book doing the book is how did he come up with this thing at 93? Where do you learn the theory of knowledge? What were the things that sort of, he picked up in his toolbox? And I wanted to be clear that like he didn’t invent this stuff. So I distinguish between I talk more about profound knowledge, than system of profound knowledge. Right, and that profound knowledge is the sort of thing that is out in the universe. And the other one thing when most people hear somebody like this demigods system, that wow, how arrogant, you got to understand the way he chose words. He chose that word in the abstract, not meaning that he was profound, and that he was writing a profound stuff. He was saying, the universe has profound knowledge. And he just tried, he spent a 70 year career died at 93 in 93. Pulling that and galvanizing and alerting and understanding it, and trying to put it in his last book is like this is how you deal with complexity.


Patrick Adams  17:26

Powerful. And do you think Deming is still relevant today? Do you think things that he said and did still matter today?



I’m so glad you asked that question, because the last third of my book is basically what would Deming do today, and I cover, I cover exact stories of like a friend of mine, Josh Corman, who worked for Homeland Security, he supply he secured the supply chain for Operation warp speed. He, you know, I interviewed him, he’s a friend of mine, he directly use Deming principles to supply to secure software, cyber secure the supply chain, you know, like you need, you know, how do you get dry ice you need petroleum. I mean, he literally went all the way back in the supply chain, and specifically says his learnings from Jean and I and specifically Deming, there’s a story about a company called Knight capital that this is a fascinating story that it was a company where a sysadmin made basically left out a comma in a very simplified explanation of something very common in in a high frequency trading program that basically lost 445 million in 45 minutes. And they were out of business in 24 hours, second largest high frequency trading company, right. So I cover a lot of these stories of, of hackers, hackers who got the FDA to recall, and I sort of trance Udemy has this thing called the 14 points. So the last chapter is I take all these, I’ve been in the cyber world for the last five or six years, Dev SEC ops, they call it. And so I took all these great stories, like the first first litigated lawsuit for a denial of service in a hospital. Right, literally, you know, and I put it in the perspective of Demings, 14 points, how was he in like, what if, you know, the executive order last year that came out? Right? What if they Deming was still alive? And they brought him in, said, Dr. Deming, how should we deal with this sort of this very complex situation about cyber and, in fact, if I had if, if I had another year, I would have put in what he would be talking about is with the agenda of AI stuff. Right. So the last third of the book is, I heavily cover his thought, you know, I spent so much time understanding this man, but I felt and I know so much about DevOps to separate out from cyber, I felt comfortable enough to say, This is how he would think about how incidents and cyber and and so the cyber terrorists and all those and I use a lot of known stories, you know, over the last, you know, five years.


Patrick Adams  19:57

Oh, that’s great. Yeah, that’s that that’s, I’ll be interested to see how you overlap those and bring those together. That’ll be exciting to read about. So so what we’ll do is we’ll drop a link to your book in the show notes. And that way, if anyone’s interested is listening in, you can go right to the show notes, find a link to John’s book there and be able to purchase the Kindle version or obviously, you know, wait for the paperback. John, let’s talk a little bit about our trip to Japan. You already brought up Mr. Yoshino who was with us in Japan, which was amazing to hear from him. But you were very you had a mission while you were there? And well, obviously, you were there to learn you, were you. But I could tell that you were also doing a little bit of your own research for your book. And so you were asking those questions about Dr. Deming, and, you know, Mr. nomoto, as well, which, you know, there was some interesting conversations that came out of that. So can you just give us kind of an overview of how those conversations went with Mr. Yoshino and how that the topics that were discussed and talked about how that then obviously added to the your book and added to some value that’s offered through that.



Funny, you know, how, like arrogance can play a part in thinking that we like we try really hard not to like be perceived as arrogant people, right, like, but like sometimes, like, the way we’re treated. And you know, and you know, and I know, you know, you’re sort of very well known in your space, I’m very, it creeps in and I remember meeting Glenn, you know, I knew Glenn Wilson who was on the trip. And he said, have you read this book? And it’s usually when there’s something one thing I love about the book, buying patterns today is like it’d be a newer together and you say, you should read this book. I like to order it right there on my phone, right? Like, that’s the tier one publishers don’t get this. Right. But But then, so I wanted it right away. And and he said, Well, I’m going to Japan study chip, and I thought, You know what, I really learned anything. And I was like, pricey, right? And, and so I arrogance sort of kicked in, right like that, you know, and but I read the book, and then I was like, oh my god, this is an incredible book. In fact, one of the things I say to people about, you know, no disrespect to all the people listening. So it’s just coming from a non lean person. So like, except that I say that, you know, if you really want to cut to the chase, there’s three books you should read. Or you should say two books you should read and then it’ll cover most of the fairground that you need, which is Mike Rothfuss, Toyota kata, and then read Steve spirits high velocity edge, and then you’ll have like, they’ll save you reading 30 books. I would add your book now in there. But then I said, like when I read Katie’s, I’m like, Oh, this is the third book. Yeah, the third book you should Now read these three books and I mean going to talk about that. And so I love that book. And, you know, I said, you know, my wife said to me, you know, you work so hard, you know, you deserve to go ahead and do so. I didn’t. Like, I didn’t know what I was like, I knew she was fascinating. I, you know, I saw that me and Glenn were the only sort of IT people or DevOps people. I thought, Wow, just meeting other people with the same interest could be that yes, it all added up. I still didn’t have I had no idea. Yeah, so yes, I said, Alright, I’m gonna go there and learn about me, and we’re gonna learn about Japan, you know, Numato, because I loved her quote, from Yoshino said that the Moto was as important as Oh, no, in some cases more. And then I read the models book before I went there, right. And so those, that was my mission, but Oh, my God, like, I got, you know, exponentially more knowledge from the visits and the companies. And, you know, the seed is sort of, I said to Glenn, that, you know, if I didn’t know better, and I do know better, so like, If Katie were listening, like, I would say, if I didn’t know better, I would say she choreographed a fictional story. It was that every company, like you’d almost like, Oh, come on, man. Did she not set this up? Were they and I know, she didn’t write in like, each company was like, Oh my God, that’s the same thing we heard yesterday, and even down to the last day. So all of that, and I’ve written a bunch of podcasts on if you could put my profound destemming.com It’s a low budget blog, but I always say content is better than quality. Right? But uh, but but but yeah, I think for me that it was be able to talk to Tino I still think even more to your question. I thought the biggest takeaway was going to be learning about moto from Yoshino hearing his thoughts about them. And that was not the biggest takeaway for me. The biggest takeaway was consistency of from you know, each supplier we went to and ending with the Tashia bullet train cleaning company, like just Oh, my God, like it was the final gamba. So yeah, I got way more out of it. And even more than I thought, which was, but I did get a lot about like confirmation about how Hooton Amato was why he was why you should not or he was so important. And what was Demings input pack on directly on Toyota?


Patrick Adams  27:28

Yeah. And again, for those that are listening that may not know who Mr. Numato is. Can you just maybe give a brief brief summary of who he is and what Mr. Yoshino said about him.



Yeah, you know, what’s interesting is, you know, I, you know, I’ve studied a fair amount of work about, about oh, no, right. We all have, right, like, he’s sort of, you know, one on one reading if you’re going to be in the Lean game, right. And, and I thought, you know, that the interesting thing about, oh, no, is about sort of workflow just in time waste, right? And we say, okay, that’s Toyota. And we have like discussions all about that and Ono’s impact. Well, there was a lot more to it was that suicide, by the way, the motto was the first guy, not the first guy in Toyota, the first individual to win the Deming Prize. He was directly influenced by Ishikawa and Ishikawa was part of the direct influence. He was the first president of juice. Deming is the one who got, you know, Japanese union of scientists and engineers. So the model is like, and here’s the thing, if you read the Morehouse book, you know, there’s the famous quote by Ono, like, you know, and I shortened it to no problem, his problem, right? Like, what I kind of like, there’s no Numato quote that says this. But it’s like, literally, I made this up effort to book no complaint is complaint. So he gets into like, the service side, the human side. And so if you think of the power of what we think about Lean, yeah, waste is important. Flow is important, and just in time is important. But so is the soda human, the culture, the motivation. And if you read the models book, um, it’s all about his 10 principles. And, and you can see how Toyota without that, I don’t think you have this. You know what, you don’t have the success of Toyota, and he’s never talked about and the first time I heard his name was in Katie’s book, when you Tino said he’s as important, possibly more important than all


Patrick Adams  29:36

powerful. Yeah. He definitely is someone you don’t want to pass out for sure. In what what would you say? You know, anything specifically that Mr. Yoshino said about him that during our trip that you think is worth sharing with with the listeners?



Well, I think you know, it’s funny, you know, because you had to trends deletion problem, right? And that probably is what it was right? And getting, you know, I think you were me, and you were probably asking the most questions. And, you know, like, if you can add up all the questions we were close to even and probably the next one was, if you grafted a little dip, right. And, you know, I mean, you were cool, because we didn’t want to hog so we wait. I love that you did. I wasn’t as vocal. But you’d say, if nobody else can ask question, I’m gonna ask question.


Patrick Adams  30:27

Man, I don’t want



to be the guy that’s just constantly hogging the questions, right, wait and wait, and and say, Wait a minute. I’m here to learn if you’re not gonna ask any questions. So but I realized, I don’t know if you got this at some point, you had to be very crafty about your question, because you spent a lot of time in the interpreter trying to figure out what you meant. And then trying to explain it to them. And then sort of getting a curt yes or no answer. Right. So um, so I didn’t get as much about the Moto other than confirmation. But to be honest with you, most of what I got about in the Moto, which was like, was in Katie’s book, about the ocean Canary, right like that? No. Like the this is the guy that literally created the management focus of ocean Canary. And I just didn’t feel like those questions were going to be able to, unless I could do a one on one with them. Like, there was no way on a bus, right? That was going to be, you know, a kid, you interpreter explain my question about hosting Canary and the impact of it from managers from the model. Like, that wasn’t gonna work, you know. So,


Patrick Adams  31:30

yeah. Now it makes sense. And you mentioned a few parts of the trip. You know, what would you say was your favorite? I mean, can you Could you point to one thing that you would say was, was the number one top learning point or the the best part of the trip that that you would say is, was the most add that added the most value for you? Yeah,



I think I would, you know, my first cop out answer would be all of it. Right. Okay. You know, that’s a cop out answer. But then I would say my second Cop Out is can I get to? And if I said, No, I’d say it was the bullet train cleaning company. Yeah. Mainly because everything that led to that was the combination. But the thing that probably, I started thinking about, I wasn’t, it wasn’t weirdly as impressed about the grammar school visit is everybody else was while we there? Sure. But it wasn’t until I got home. And I came to this conclusion that like, sorry, again, everybody in the Lean community, but this includes DevOps community because, you know, digital transformation, in some ways we’re doomed. Because when you see that, they get that immersive culture, the you know, the short story was, we went to the elementary school, the kids serve, you know, lunch to other kids in rotation, served it to the teachers, they clean the place, they didn’t have janitors, they actually understood the concept of kaizen and what are they five or six year old, seven year old? And then I’m thinking, wow, you know, we have to sort of break the mold of an institutionalized terroristic, you know, you know, model that is very extrinsic at its core. And these kids are coming up with a pure, collaborative community. The other thing was community, which served community over and how it was so intertwined. And I thought, you know, for a minute, like, again, I’m not going to stop trying to help people learn, but, but for a minute, I thought, you know, like, no wonder why it’s so hard for us. You know, right. I mean, that the what, how those kids come out, and then we were told that all element, even though it was a private school, all elementary schools have this same practice, right? Like, I mean, that’s, like, an extra thing going back to Deming, like, he saw that culture, you know, with with no clothes, right? He, like he saw the, he literally, like there’s one of his secretary, his only major Secretary Rota, sort of anthology of all his events. And the sucio kill can kill anything. And it’s like, oh, like the first time he went there, the first time he had Saki, the first time you saw kabuki theater, like you could see his incredible in like knowledge, like, give me more I want to know more, I want to understand these people. And again, it was the but the bullet train was like, I think it was the final watching that cleaning copy all the behaviors that they had about the sort of respect and you know, yeah, it was just, that was incredible. And the school after I got home and I started thinking about like, how hard it is for us to create change here. And why it was like, why something like Demings ideas of like system thinking and, and epistemology and like just the created this monster, if you will, serious spirit Sid has a presentation where he talks about he showed us like Godzilla. And he says, you know, let me be clear, are we to decimated General Motors? And, and Ford, you know, during the, you know, sort of the the 80s? I mean, it was just pure, I would say, there’s been nothing like it in modern commerce of what Toyota did to the American economy.


Patrick Adams  35:27

Right. Yeah. They definitely surpassed during that time. For sure. So, John, obviously, looking forward to reading your book. You know, I think about the just knowing you our discussions in Japan, I mean, in the past 40 years, you’ve written 11 books, you’ve built 12. Startups, three successful exits. What’s next for John? What do you Yeah, I mean, you wrote about Deming, and, you know, we talked earlier about him at 89 years old. I mean, what do you got planned for the future?



I mean, you know, there go for the grace of God, I live to be 90. But, um, but, so one of the things that was, you know, it’s funny when I wrote the first draft of the book, like, it was, like, 400 pages, and then one of my best friends who’s another he was an alternate reader, he, you know, he’s the only guy I know that read and, and Ulysses and gravity’s rainbow and understood him, right. Like, like, he is an intellectual reader. And he taught like an older brother, he just like, What are you doing? How can you tell him this story? What is, so I had to cut out like, like, like, 30 Amazing stories, you know, added a book. And then I realized, Oh, I’m just gonna publish that as an anthology. So that’s something I’m going to have by the end of the year, which is all these like, amazing stories that just, it should not have corrupted the narrative like that every long away, they’d say, you know, John, like by slash story was Demings, wife created woman sizing. So I had a chapter called, The Devil was product, where I talked about how, and like, it broke my heart. And I’m sure when you wrote your book, there were things like, no, please don’t take that one. But what I realized is I’m putting in in companion, so I’ve got that, you know, I’m thinking about the Deming handbook. And then I crazy enough, I’ve got a couple of friends who, who want to invest, I’ve been really going deep into the generative AI, and how do you how to use it in a way that could really enhance the way we do practice? You know, my, my career has been operations? Yeah, you know, IT operations? You know, that’s what I do. I’ve been doing it for since 1980. Right, like working in Monster companies, helping them automate infrastructure installs, software, basically what we call DevOps today, I think there’s an incredible opportunity to, to corral these powerful engines to help us understand how to do things like Incident Management, and, and, you know, sort of cyber risk control risk management. So there’s a possibility that I might actually do, and I keep saying, I’m done with startups, you know, like, I’m 64, like, come on, like, what are you going to stop doing? It’s but it’s in my blood. So I, there’s a chance I might actually, I’m doing a lot of research on generative AI and the enterprise, like, how can you take JIRA tickets, actually take confluence, IQ take all this stuff, and use it to make you know, I figured out how to to solve the hallucination problem. And that’s just doing research of other people who figured that out. So I’ve really minimized the cuts, call retrieval augmentation. And so with that now, and then I can isolate the information, so it doesn’t go out into public. And then when you can do those two things, then these things become incredibly powerful tools for what we do so


Patrick Adams  38:54

powerful. Do you think one last question, just based on what you just said, how do you think AI is going to change the future for companies in maybe even specifically tied to continuous improvement? I mean, what do you see? What do you see based on some of the research that you’re doing?



Yeah, I think like, I mean, I saw one of the articles I want to write now is, you know, I often talk about a guy named Jay bloom, if you just Google him, he’s probably the smartest guy I worked with him at Red Hat. He’s just incredibly brilliant. You know, he kind of taught me gave me this idea of like, comparing the industrial economies to knowledge economies, right, instead of talking about industrial engineering or industrial, you know, whatever improvement or like, like, think about them as economies Right. And, and I think that the idea that like everything we’ve done, like, the industrial economy, like we understand, it’s pretty, you know, like, a lot of what you do like we Have that pretty well down. I mean, there’s still a lot of like, how do we get change? How do we be more like, you know what Toyota did or, but but like, like, we’ve got that solid, we thought like cloud computing and DevOps, and all these things were sort of the pinnacle of the knowledge economy. They’re not this new generation is. The next is, I think, the beginning of like, if we said, TPS, or Toyota Production System was the sort of the avant garde, the poster child for industrial economy, I think we’re at the beginning of that shaping now. And so, so everything changes, I think, you know, unfortunately, and people are not going to react well to this, that, you know, you’re gonna see massive cut, we’re already seeing, like, PR departments and marketing just getting sliced, because the net net, and even coding, you know, that when Goldman Sachs, if you went back and don’t quote, me went back, like 15, or 20 years, or a Cohen, Sachs probably had, you know, 3000, trade day traders, do you think are less than 100? Now, so algo trading, that’s going to happen, the programs. Now what’s gonna happen is people like you, me, and I’ve been doing, like, I haven’t coded in 10 years, and in the last month, I’ve been coding Python, like a maniac. And if you know what you’re doing, like, you make fun of copilot, and all these tools, but if you know how to code, these tools are incredible. I mean, like, I know, like, it’s just gonna get a little technical, that adjacent object gets returned from a search API, Google Search API, and I need to get the Fourth Level nested field. Like, I know how to ask that question. If you’ve never programmed, you don’t know how to ask that question. Right. And so this is the key, it’s going to eliminate, but people like you, me, and I’m sure many of your listeners, if you embrace it, like the subject matter expert, the human is going to be a critical piece. So all this nonsense about it’s going to replace the human, it’s gonna change.


Patrick Adams  42:08

It’s gonna change, right? Like, you know,



you know, like the sewing and seamstress and like that, those all just changed, right? But your knowledge, so the people who embrace this and knowledge, and there’s something for one, you know, I know, I chat pretty much and you’re probably like, my god, how am I gonna get this guy off here, but but there’s a thing called Jevons paradox. In a non scientific, non academic way, the explanation is, the more abstractions you create, the more it creates more sort of things, if you will. And almost every example, in history, or modern history of when we think that something is going to reduce, it actually increases. And I’ll give an example like, videos for movie theaters. You know, like, like, we thought, Oh, my God, that’s gonna destroy the actually the movie theaters, you know, until the COVID thing, basically was like, 24, Plex, 36 Plex. Right? When we thought with the DVDs and videos, we’re going to put them out of business. Right? So that’s, that’s an example of a Jevons paradox. And so my, I think there’s possible to be


Patrick Adams  43:22

willing, to your point earlier, though, John, not to interrupt you, but you have to be willing to change with, with the times to your point, you know, you think about let’s, let’s talk about blockbuster, right? I mean, Blockbuster didn’t, didn’t change with the times, and they thought they would just, you know, improve their, their walk up desk and make that better for customers. And they weren’t even thinking about what, you know, red box was going to do to them. You know, obviously, we all know now looking back, but I think for all of us, to your point, embracing that, you know, the the what AI is doing and learning as much as we can, and figuring out how do we come alongside this and we might have our businesses may have to change, they will have to change, I mean, technology is going to change everything. So it has already and it is continuing to so



Halsey pinion, right, like, you know, I get a kick out nowadays. So I go to a DevOps conference show I’m working with, like 25 year old kids, right, and, and they’ll say, you know, you know, like, they read my bio, and they see that I started out as an IBM mainframe assembler, coder, that was like, my first real job like in 1980, right? Like, you know, my grandfather did that, you know, and like, and I’ve had for five solid, different careers since then. Right? Like so. And I’m not saying I’m special, but you have to be able to see a change. And then you can make that decision to just you know, and you know, I have friends that like my age that have retired, stayed at one job that great you know, they did fine. There’s nothing against that. But like if you’re a coal miner, you Better go to night school, you know, like, that’s, that’s a message 20 years ago, not now, right? But it’s the analogy of, you know, and again, the confidence is, like people like you, and people who are going to, like, take the time to listen to this show are more likely to be the kind of people that and sort of my advice, like, if you take any advice to me, don’t, you know, this pipe works two ways. There’s the hype of like, Oh, my God is gonna do everything, you know, the people sort of run around, like, you must drop everything, you must do this, right? And they’re, they’re nonsense. But the hype of the really smart people say, that’s terrible, that will never work. Don’t fall into that hype, either. Get right in the middle and figure it out, just to somebody, you know, who is brilliant, I’ve got some brilliant friends that are just like, they, they send me DMS and little chats and say, why you go nuts on this nonsense, you know, and I’m like, you know, like, I’m learning, you know, so don’t let the negative, you know, hype, or sort of anti hype, you know, and it’d be some of your best friends to basically tell you, like, you almost be embarrassed to admit that you’re doing it because you know, like, for your friends are gonna, like jump on it. Right? Well, sure. That’s a trap.


Patrick Adams  46:12

Yeah, yeah. Well, John, John, it’s been great to have you on obviously, we could we could continue on probably forever. With a good conversation. If anyone’s interested to reach out to you with questions or anything, where would be the best place for them to go to connect with you?



Yeah, this is something marketing one on one I failed. So I picked a word called Bacik. abou particular, Bo, TC, you’re gonna put in b tch agal up E. And it’s at Gmail, or it’s my Twitter handle and, or, you know, John Willis, you know, I’m pretty easy to find on LinkedIn. Right? It’s done. Well, somebody already had John Well, so it’s almost Atlanta. I’m not even in Atlanta anymore. But, but you can tell pretty quickly who, who I am. So those are probably the best two. And then if you you know, sort of interested in the stuff that profound? Yes, deming.com is where I sort of tried to put as many blog articles and interviews and I have a podcast called profound, as well. So I’m not, you know, still. I’m not as professional I just sort of, I mean, I asked you like, how do you have so many followers on LinkedIn, and you gave me a very prescriptive like, John, it did. And I still haven’t, I’m still such a knucklehead. I haven’t followed your advice. So but


Patrick Adams  47:28

no worries, no worries, we’ll we’ll put all those all that contact information, your website, your LinkedIn, we’ll put all that into the show notes. So if anyone’s interested to reach out to John, you can find his contact information right in the show notes. John, again, it’s been amazing to have Yan It was great to meet you in Japan and get to know you, looking forward to your upcoming book, all the amazing things that you’re doing. And maybe later this year, we’ll have you back on the show. And we can talk about how the how the book launch went and everything you know, after the books been out. So



then I’d love to get you on my show is not as sort of popular but I’d love for the DevOps committee. I loved your book. As I said before the show I read it on a trip home from Japan, I couldn’t put it down. And I would love to get you know, so interview you about like some of the really cool things I took notes in your book on my my thing and get that after the Deming did DevOps community. So you bet, love it.


Patrick Adams  48:26


Meet Patrick

Patrick is an internationally recognized leadership coach, consultant, and professional speaker, best known for his unique human approach to sound team-building practices; creating consensus and enabling empowerment. He founded his consulting practice in 2018 to work with leaders at all levels and organizations of all sizes to achieve higher levels of performance. He motivates, inspires, and drives the right results at all points in business processes.

Patrick has been delivering bottom-line results through specialized process improvement solutions for over 20 years. He’s worked with all types of businesses from private, non-profit, government, and manufacturing ranging from small business to billion-dollar corporations.