Today was 1st communion at the (Minor) Basilica of Immaculate Conception in Natchitoches. The 2nd graders received the consecrated host today, but first they had to go to confession. I have to admit that I am curious about what sort of things the 8 or 9 year olds I know would need to confess. Probably some confessed to lying about having homework when they wanted to go outside and jump on the trampoline, or perhaps they coveted their neighbor’s new X-Box, or felt bad about missing Mass on the opening weekend of duck season. Who knows what was said, but it is never too early to institute the philosophy of continuous improvement, and we know that there’s no institution better at indoctrination than the Catholic Church.
W. Edwards Deming is an American who is credited with bringing the continuous improvement philosophy to Japan’s engineering and manufacturing industries. This Total Quality Management movement has spilled over into other areas, and, voila, something old is new again! Boiled down to the very basics– good people make good work environments, which make good products and good products make money. Doesn’t sound like the sort of genius that would revolutionize industrial management, does it? It sounds very much like the sort of thing that has been espoused from the pulpit for centuries. To begin, there is a list of 10 things that you really should (or shouldn’t) do, followed by lots of chapters and parables of how to comport yourself, if you can master the Big Ten. My least favorite of these stories is the “render unto Ceasar” passage, because that has to do with paying taxes to the government, and I would much prefer to keep my money.
Many successful people will tell you that you need a goal and a plan to reach that goal. That is true. Deming applied that to a huge manufacturing process and broke it down to the individual level and showed how those small, seemingly inconsequential pieces related to the success of the whole. For our personal goals, we need to break them down into smaller, bite size pieces. and every day look to see how we measured up to our expectation for the day. If we made it, then we might try to bite off a bigger piece the next day, and the next, and the next, until we reach the first base camp on the hike up our own personal Mount Everest. If you can enlist some sherpas to help you, all the better. If we didn’t make it, then we need to look at why, make any necessary adjustments, and move on. And let there be no mistake, every person is an important part of the whole. What each of us does (or does not) every single day makes a difference in the world.
Speaking of sherpas, today was also Mothers’ Day. We had a lovely meal at my sister’s home with 3 generations of mothers at the table. Grandma’s blackberry cobbler needs no improvement, nor do Mom’s mashed potatoes or Sis’s brownies, but I need to work on restraint because I am still full 9 hours later. My children made cards for me and my husband re-wrote Ray Wylie Hubbard’s “RedNeck Mother” and sang it with the kids. Sadly, the sound on the video camera did not work, so I couldn’t upload it, but I will post a stanza for posterity:
“And, so We Love You… Redneck Mother; Mother who has raised her kids so well (so well, so well); She’s 36 and driving with the top down; Turnin’ all the boys’ heads and lookin’ swell.”