Re: Help for an article on learning organisations

Chas. A. Barclay (
Sat, 10 Dec 1994 09:20:20 -1000

Sean makes an interesting observation about CEO tenure and the
continuance of a TQM & L-O path. He then wraps it in the anecdote so
nicely veiled of Florida Power & Light's (FPL) apparent abandonement
of TQM after the obvious success of winning the Deming Prize and the
CEO John J. Hudiberg (now a sought after speaker and consultant)
retiring from the FPL. I'd like to add some background to the
conversation without detracting from Sean's otherwise fine post.

In 1990, while still a grad studnet and doing extensive research on
the apparent contradiction between CEO's views and practices in the
Quality as a strategic advantage, I researched FPL's apparent mistep.
I contacted their quality consulting arm Qualtech at the time as well.

Hudiberg was fired the board of directors for spending an enormous
quantity of time and $$$ resources to seek the Prize includign
forking out nearly a $250,000 for a japanese quality guru and his
disciples to come consult on how to win the golden fleece. At the
same time FPL trumpeted success in reducing power outages due to tree
branches downing lines as a result of team work they also let one
Nuclear power plant fall way behind schedule and another plant lapse
on maintenance. Apparently FPL directed the Deming examiners away
from those areas. Meanwhile profits were going nowhere and
predictably the stock price remained flat. All the while Florida was
growing steadily in economic output and population. At times
when FPL couldn't get plants online they had to buy power from other

This was not hte picture of corporate helath that one would expect of
a Deming Prize winner. A colleague of mine from Hawaiian Electric
Industries (HEI) and I were having coffee and he told me of some more
ditties regarding FPL. As we were both quality intriguees we came to
the notion that a book entitled "When Fraud was Rewarded." Another
suggestion was "The Zealot who didn't Get It." Obviously, neither
was published.

FPL's profit outlook has improved, and their utterly mindless
devotion towards teaming and quality has been tempered and placed in
context of corporate strategy and their mission. Their learning has
continues and training of all employees continues. I suspect the
board of directors is more attuned to mis-guided leadership now. If
you've watched Hudiberg's GW downlink seminars you might get the same
impression as I did--how the hell did he become CEO?

Charles Barclay 2404 Maile Way
Dept. of Mgmt & Ind Relations Honolulu, HI 96822
University of Hawaii Fax: 808 956-2774 Phone: 808 956-8545

The Price of Paradise is now 40% higher than the mean cost of living
in the continental USA. Think about that next time you lust for
moving from your Peoria.