Critical Mass

Friday, March 7, 2014 in Knowledge Posts, Leadership

Dr. Deming on Critical Mass

I attended a 4-Day Seminar with Dr. W. Edwards Deming in the 1980’s.  During a question and answer session, this question was asked of Dr. Deming, “You (Deming) talk about needing a critical mass of people in an organization to cause a transformation.  How many people are necessary for critical mass?”

Dr. Deming’s answer was liberating.  Dr. Deming answered, “I would like to think of the square root of an organization, necessary for critical mass.”

We often think we have to get everybody on board to move forward or we need to roll out the training.  Only the square root of is necessary.  In a small staff of 25, just 5 dedicated people who are committed to the improvement process and who work consistently will create a transformation.

The same is true in a classroom.  Think about getting a critical mass of students in a classroom.  In a class of 30 students, the square root would be approximately 5.5.  Since you can’t have half a child, round to 6.  If you can get 6 students to commit and begin working with you and supporting your initiatives; you can transform the culture of the class.

I hope this message provides direction to all of you who are struggling to improve the learning dynamics of a classroom, a school, or an entire district or organization.