Joyce Nilsson Orsini, PhD
Ignatian Pedagogy with Deming Management Ideas
St. Ignatius believed in teaching the whole individual. Ignatian pedagogy is a constant interplay of experience, reflection and action.1 W. Edwards Deming, too, believed in this balanced whole-istic approach. He believed also that managers need to appreciate an organization as a system, and understand something about the theory of knowledge, statistical variation, and psychology of people, in order to bring out the best in a company. With even inch-deep understanding of these disciplines, an enterprise would be managed profoundly different from its prior state. Deming talked about many barriers that prevent people from doing a good job; among them are the focus on short-term profits, the demoralization of workers through policies that rank and rate people, inconsistent instructions, inadequate training, poor tools, setting arbitrary numerical goals instead of developing methods for improvement, creating fear to speak up, fear to take risks, fear to ask questions, fear of ridicule and humiliation, and fear of change.2 The Deming Scholars MBA brings the Ignatian pedagogy of experience, reflection and action into teaching Deming’s ideas about management, where faculty focus on the teaching-learning process. The constant interplay of practical experiences, course materials, critical thinking, reflection and action is transformative on students’ customary patterns of thought . Personal care and concern for the students leads to creation of conditions under which they can understand and distinguish facts, perceptions, feelings, values, insights and intuitions. The program brings new experiences and learning so that students’ knowledge grows, and they discover relationships between what is being studied and other facets of human knowledge, and appreciate its implications in the business world. A number of exercises, projects, and public discussions of their thoughts help each student determine the best course of action. It is the only known program of its kind. Every other curriculum is just a choice of courses. This paper discusses the basis for the Deming Scholars program. The idea of the Deming Scholars MBA is to create a Deming environment, Ignatian pedagogy, and a context into which students can integrate expert knowledge from many disciplines. Most of the courses are taught by subject-matter experts. They are not Deming experts, and are not expected to tailor courses in that direction. Students need to know what is being taught in these disciplines and what the latest thinking is in these fields, untainted and unvarnished by any particular perspective. Students, in turn, bring Deming’s thinking to bear on the topics through discussions and projects outside of the courses themselves. This is a very different model from the typical MBA program. But this model is where the power of the program lies.