Some managers believe a bit of fear can be healthy, but Deming didn’t think so, and it can hurt projects in countless ways, from data manipulation to lack of innovation. On the other end of the spectrum, light agile approaches honour another Deming principle: focus on stakeholder value.

Fear encourages short-term thinking. One of Deming's classic stories was about a foreman who didn't stop production to repair a worn-out piece of equipment because he feared he would miss his daily quota. When the machine failed, production was shut down for four days.

The manifestations of fear are many, including fear of reprisal … failure … the unknown … relinquishing control … change … and more. Some management philosophies assert that a certain level of fear is healthy. I disagree, and agree with Deming that fear is so unproductive and harmful it should be driven out as much as possible.

If project managers are controlled by fear or reprisal, it is likely that they will withhold or delay revealing negative information. Earned value management data and other types of status reporting can easily be manipulated by crafty project managers tot avoid reprisal.

Project managers who have a fear of failure because of the environment they are working in will never try anything new. How can progress be made unless you try something new, and take some educated risks? It can't.

Fear of the unknown can paralyze project managers, sponsors and stakeholders alike. A big part of project management is about dealing with uncertainty, and making the unknowns known. Good project management can alleviate much of the fear associated with unknowns.

Many project managers feel they must micromanage their projects because if they don't, things will never get done correctly. They might be afraid of failure, or maybe they are just control freaks. In order to properly lead and achieve the best results, a project manager must be able to give guidance and direction then get out of the way. A good indicator that a project manager may have this fear is when you hear them overdoing the project management jargon in meetings with customers. This attempt at razzle-dazzle is inevitably a symptom of the "it's all about me" syndrome.

Fear of change is another big one. Change management is probably the most difficult thing to deal with on projects. People are resistant to change by nature, unless they are the ones initiating it. For that reason, it is often best to make the WIIFM (what's in it for me) painfully obvious, and involve experts from the stakeholder side as much as possible when working the project. The more people you can involve that are at the lowest end-user level, the better. Don’t just include the managers of these people in your project — that is a sure fire way to ensure the end-users are fearful of the change when it comes.

From India , Mumbai
The demings principle can be put down in pointers as -

The 14 points are a basis for transformation of [American] industry. Adoption and action on the 14 points are a signal that management intend to stay in business and aim to protect investors and jobs. Such a system formed the basis for lessons for top management in Japan in 1950 and in subsequent years.
The 14 points apply anywhere, to small organisations as well as to large ones, to the service industry as well as to manufacturing. They apply to a division within a company.
  1. Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service, with the aim to become competitive and to stay in business, and to provide jobs.
  2. Adopt the new philosophy. We are in a new economic age. Western management must awaken to the challenge, must learn their responsibilities, and take on leadership for change.
  3. Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality. Eliminate the need for inspection on a mass basis by building quality into the product in the first place.
  4. End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price tag. Instead, minimise total cost. Move towards a single supplier for any one item, on a long-term relationship of loyalty and trust.
  5. Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service, to improve quality and productivity, and thus constantly decrease costs.
  6. Institute training on the job.
  7. Institute leadership. The aim of supervision should be to help people and machines and gadgets to do a better job. Supervision of management is in need of an overhaul, as well as supervision of production workers.
  8. Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company.
  9. Break down barriers between departments. People in research, design, sales, and production must work as a team, to foresee problems of production and in use that may be encountered with the product or service.
  10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the workforce asking for zero defects and new levels of productivity. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships, as the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the system and thus lie beyond the power of the work force.
  11. a. Eliminate work standards (quotas) on the factory floor. Substitute leadership.
    b. Eliminate management by objective. Eliminate management by numbers, numerical goals. Substitute leadership.
  12. a. Remove barriers that rob the hourly paid worker of his right to pride in workmanship. The responsibility of supervisors must be changed from sheer numbers to quality.
    b. Remove barriers that rob people in management and engineering of their right to pride in workmanship. This means, inter alia, abolishment of the annual or merit rating and management by objective.
  13. Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement.
  14. Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everybody's job.
Vijay Singh

From India , Mumbai
Not to digress drastically, J Krishnamurthi has a statement " All values are created in an atmosphere free from fear"
Philosophy, daily living with ethics and integrity and sound business sense all ultimately(!)

From India , Pune
Absolutely right you are on that.
Education has to cultivate humility and discipline; but today it is yielding a harvest of pride and envy. 'Vidya' means: 'Vid' (Light) and 'Ya' (that which gives). So education has to shed light and illumine the darkness in the mind and the intellect. It does not indicate mere bookish knowledge. It has to clarify the kinship of man with man and his intimate relationship with nature. It must harmonize one's earlier experiences with one's present ones, and guide one to beneficial experiences in the future.
Excellent points put forward by Vijay Singh.
Look forward to more contributions from you.

From India , Mumbai
Ca Bala wrote - "Change management is probably the most difficult thing to deal with on projects. People are resistant to change by nature, unless they are the ones initiating it."
I beg to disagree. People love change by nature. But if their work environment is toxic, then they distrust management and literally fear change since in the past it only meant more difficulty and problems for them.
To make people eager for change, create an environment which treats them with great respect.
To understand the right way and the wrong way of doing this, read the article Leadership, Good or Bad <link updated to site home>
Best regards, Ben
Author "Leading People to be Highly Motivated and Committed"

From United States , Tampa
The work culture has been changing.... Employees now work FOR their reporting Managers rather than working WITH their reporting managers and if the TOP Management is not willing to change then the Top to Bottom change drive will be ineffective most of the times and the if change does happen it will be there till the issue / matter is of high imprortance and may not be encorporated as a work culture..... The moment the focus of the hour changes people are back to their normal selves........In an article read it was saild that employess now look for trust and not friends at work and in most of the work envieronments the completetion between two departments goes to such an extent that the reason for the competition gets lost... In such environments driving change gets difficult.
Vijay Singh

From India , Mumbai
Hi Ben,
I read your article. The days of 'top down' are over.
I do agree with the view that "in the past it only meant more difficulty and problems for them".
How doe we make this past as something which will not happen? The people have to be taken into confidence. This is a real challenge to a PM. Even today, many of us are very comfortable with a change intiated by ourself.
Thanks a lot for your valuable insights into your experiences and ideas. Please do keep contributing to this small fraternity of PM's.
Best Regards

From India , Mumbai
Thanks for your kind comment.
You wrote - "The days of 'top down' are over."
I wish that was true, but my own assessment is that top-down in its many forms is as ubiquitous as ever.
Best regards, Ben
Author "Leading People to be Highly Motivated and Committed"

From United States , Tampa
"Thanks for your kind comment.
You wrote - "The days of 'top down' are over."
but my own assessment is that top-down in its many forms is as ubiquitous as ever"
"many of us are very comfortable with a change initiated by ourself. -ca_bala"
It is interesting that both of you have a valid point in my opinion.
We are comfortable with the change that we initiate as ca_bala puts it. Very true. Change initiated by others ---unless you understand that with a completely non-nonjudgmental attitude we do not feel comfortable with it and hence there is resistance to it.
I also feel strongly and know it for a fact based on my experiences in the corporate sector ( over 30+ years) that the "top down" stuff is very much there. It is basically a psychological thing wanting to belong rather than wanting the right thing.

From India , Pune

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