W. Edwards Deming was a quality theorist, statistician, author and management consultant. He was influential in the practice of quality management. Deming’s most urgent message was for management. He stressed that management create a system where each worker could do a good job and take pride in their work.
What is quality? The International Organization for Standardization (ISO9000) defines quality as “The degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfills requirements” (Project Management Institute, 2013, p.228). Quality is one of the most important factors for any business to be successful.
“Quality is more than just a statistical analysis tool for manufacturing lines. When done right, quality should encompass the entire enterprise” (Stevenson, 2009, p.406). An increase in quality results in better productivity, higher morale, and increased customer satisfaction.
Edwards Deming was a visionary who understood the importance of quality management. His concepts helped Japan rise to become a world economic power.
Like most of the major contributors in the area of quality, Deming studied engineering. He would go on to get a PhD in mathematical physics from Yale in 1928. Deming was a professor of statistics at New York University’s graduate school of business. He later went to Japan after WWII to help improve their quality and productivity. He used statistical analysis and a systems approach towards quality.
Deming’s teachings and models were successful in Japan. To this day the Japanese give out an award for quality named the Deming prize. One of the causes for Deming’s popularity was his list of 14 points for quality. He was also an advocate of the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle.
Deming lived from 1900 – 1993. His theories had great success in Japan, but he didn’t have much popularity in the US until the 1980s. In the 80s he worked with American Automobile companies to help improve their quality.
Management and the system
One of Deming’s key messages was that the cause for poor quality was not the employees, it was the system. He emphasized that it was management’s responsibility to fix the system. “According to Deming, 85 percent of the quality problems on a project are attributable to the management environment and the system in which the team works” (Mulcahy, 2013, p. 297).
Appreciation for the system refers to everyone within a company working to achieve optimization. “Deming believed that knowledge comes from theory, and that learning cannot occur within an organization without a theory of knowledge” (Stevenson 2009, p 409).
Deming was an adversary of the annual performance review process within companies. He thought the arbitrary annual review process was managing by fear. He believed it robbed employees of their internal motivation. Deming believed managements greatest challenge was motivating workers to achieve a common goal.
The Plan Do Study Act (PDSA) Cycle
The concept of the PDSA cycle was introduced to Deming by Walter Shewhart of Bell Laboratories in New York. The first step in the process is to put together a plan by formulating a theory and creating success metrics. Next comes the execution of that plan (the Do step). Following execution is studying the results. The last step is to act based on the results found and put in place adjustments if needed.
The Five Deadly Diseases of Management
Edwards Deming recognized five deadly diseases of management which impede quality improvements. The five disease are as follows:
1. Lack of constancy of purpose. This means that leadership needs to understand exactly why they are in business. They must have a clear mission that has a market for the future and is understood throughout the organization. Firms need to plan for the future and have a long term definition of goals.
2. Short term thinking and emphasis on short term profits. Too much focus on quarterly dividends and raising the company stock. Not enough focus on quality and long term planning.
3. The annual system of rating/performance review. The yearly employee review has a negative effect on long term planning as well as team work. Employees get bitter when they do not receive high performance ratings. The system is arbitrary, unjust and demoralizing to employees.
4. Management that has no roots in the company. They lack knowledge and understanding of operational problems.
5. Use of visible figures only for management. Management needs to understand there are unknowable figures. Understand the importance of the multiplying effect of a happy or unhappy customer (Deming, 1984).
14 Points for Quality
Perhaps the most well know of Edwards Deming’s teachings were his 14 points for management. Below are the 14 points as stated from the Deming Institute (https://www.deming.org):
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, minimize total cost. Move toward 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 (see Point 12 and Ch. 8). 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 overhaul, as well as supervision of production workers.
8. Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company (see Ch. 3).
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 work force 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.
Eliminate work standards (quotas) on the factory floor. Substitute leadership.
Eliminate management by objective. Eliminate management by numbers, numerical goals. Substitute leadership.
11. Remove barriers that rob the hourly worker of his right to pride of workmanship. The responsibility of supervisors must be changed from sheer numbers to quality.
12. Remove barriers that rob people in management and in engineering of their right to pride of workmanship. This means, inter alia, abolishment of the annual or merit rating and of 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.
For more content like this, subscribe to the MacIsaac Consulting Blog.
To contact us about our services, click here.
Stevenson, W. (2009). Operations Management, New York, NY: McGraw-Hill
Mulcahy, R. (2013) PMP Exam Prep, Minnetonka, MN: RMC Publications, Inc.
Project Management Institute (2013) Project Management Body Of Knowledge (5th ed.). Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute
Deming, E. (1984) Dr Deming – The Five Deadly Diseases [online Video]. Retrieved from the Deming Institute YouTube website: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehMAwIHGN0Y
Deming, E. (1984) W. Edward Deming Quality Guru [online Video]. Retrieved from YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQpY3lnljBE