Archive for June 2014

Waterloo Agile Lean 24th June P2P – Dr. Deming’s Famous Red Bead Experiment

June 14, 2014

What?: Dr. Deming’s Famous Red Bead Experiment


The White Bead Corporation, Kitchener – Toronto, Ontario

The White Bead Corporation is a leading provider of quality white beads to consumers in high-tech and energy industry verticals with over thirty years’ experience. We have recently been contracted by the Provincial Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure to provide our products on an increased production scale and require new workers and specialists to join our dynamic team to meet this demand.

We will be conducting our first round of hiring for above-average employees at the upcoming SDEC 2014 Conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba, with successful applicants immediately joining us in production. We have openings for the following roles:

 White Bead Developers (6): Must be willing and capable of shipping high-quality, defect-free white beads. Education and experience are preferred, but not required as we offer on-the-job training.

 QA Specialists (2): Must be capable of counting to twenty and distinguishing red beads from white beads.

 QA Lead (1): Must have loud voice to report QA results and ability to keep workers in line.

 Data Analyst (1): Must have good writing and listening skills to record reported QA results.

 We offer competitive salaries, employee recognition programs, a pay-for-performance program and industry-leading career development opportunities. We thank all applicants for their interest in applying to The White Bead Corporation, however we will only be able to hire above-average, willing workers at this time.


The Red Bead Experiment will be co-facilitated by Chris and Mike. Mike and Chris have collaborated on presenting this experiment locally at Agile Open Toronto 2014 and Agile Coach Camp Canada 2014 in Guelph.

This experiment is best-run in a small room with theatre-style seating, a table at the front of the room with two chairs and a whiteboard or flipchart nearby for capturing results. A projector isn’t required – this is all low-tech, hands-on. We need at least ten to fifteen attendees to make the exercise worthwhile: Ten to participate and at least five to observe and potentially serve as replacement workers depending on what happens with any of the originals six “willing workers.”

The experiment itself is run in three phases:

1)      Introductions

2)      Running the Experiment

3)      Workshop to rebuild the White Bead Corporation

As stated above, ten participants from the audience to play the roles of willing workers (6), QA specialists (2), a QA lead (1) and Data Analyst (1). The object of the experiment is to have the workers sift fifty white beads from a shallow bucket that contains a distribution of red and white beads using a small, plastic paddle (which Mike has designed to approximate the original kits used by Deming) – all while following a prescribed methodology and adhering to management directives.

The experiment itself is run in four successive rounds simulating the same number of days in production for The White Bead Corporation. Results are recorded on a whiteboard or flipchart after each round, and there are various management posters and slogans that will be posted as motivational aides to help the workers in their efforts.

Learning Points

The experiment itself was originally designed by Deming to give a practical demonstration of his Fourteen Points of Management, which he called it the Parable of the Red Bead. Depending on their experiences, participants can expect to take away a number of key learnings from The Red Bead Experiment, including:

  1. The net-effect of management using extrinsic motivation on a work system to improve production, e.g. slogans, exhortations, financial incentives, employee recognition awards.
  2. Effect of using fixed/closed methodologies to improve productivity to the exclusion of employee involvement.
  3. Using an inspection-based approach to achieve quality outcomes.
  4. Effect of using work standards (quotas) and numerical targets to increase productivity (management by objective)
  5. Separating workers by role instead of working as a true team.
  6. Effect of rigidly-implemented methodologies vs. culture of continuous improvement.

When? : Tuesday June 24th, 2014 from 4:30p.m. to 6:00p.m.

Where?: Communitech Hub, 151, Charles Street West, Kitchener, Ontario in Matrix/Atlas Rooms

Who?: Facilitated by Chris Chapman and Mike Edwards

Chris Chapman is the President and Founder of Derailleur Consulting, Inc., a one-man consultancy in Toronto, Ontario dedicated to helping realign the work software teams do with how they do it using agile and lean practices. Recently he has partnered with LeanIntuit to help coach customers in the Greater Toronto Area.

Mike Edwards started his career more than 25 years ago as a software developer. Mike has spent the past 15 years leading teams of all shapes and sizes. When Mike stumbled across Lean and Agile numerous years ago it rocked his belief system and forever changed how he viewed our work. Mike now helps organizations transform how they do business through the use of Lean & Agile. The bridge between people, teams and management is wrought with broken boards and weak supports. Mike now focuses on building stronger bridges between these important groups while helping people and organizations find a new path forward.

Register: here

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