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Friday, April 13, 2012

Let us learn from a Quality Guru - W. Edward Deming

W. Edward Deming (14 October 1900 – 20 December 1993)

W. Edward Deming was an American quality guru, who had significantly contributed in building Japan. He taught – (i) How to improve design (and thus product/service), (ii) Product quality, (iii) Testing, (iv) Sales through various methods, (v) Application of statistical methods.

A few awards received by Deming includes – (i) Second Order Medal of the Sacred Treasure (1960) awarded by the Emperor of Japan, for his contribution for improvement of quality and of Japanese economy through statistical quality control, (ii) Shewhart Medal (1955) from the American Society for Quality Control, (iii) Samuel S. Wilks Award (1983) from the American Statistical Association, (iv) Taylor Key Award, American Management Association (1983) (v) ‘National Medal of Technology’ (1987) awarded by the US President Reagan, (vi) ‘Distinguished Career in Science Award’ (1988) from the National Academy of Sciences, USA .

Deming was popularly considered as a hero in Japan.

Education – B. Sc. (Electrical Engineering) from the University of Wyoming (1921), M. S. from University of Colorade (1925), Ph. D. from Yale University (1928), Internship at Bell Telephone Laboratories while pursuing Ph. D.

Famous work of Deming:

(i) Book ‘Out of Crisis’ (1982-1986)
(ii) Book ‘The New Economics for Industry, Government, Education’ (1993)
(iii) System of Profound Knowledge
(iv) 14 Points for Management
(v) Foundation of W. Edwards Deming Institute in Washington (1993)

The Deming System of Profound Knowledge

The Deming System of Profound Knowledge teaches us –

i. The prevailing style of management must undergo transformation (change). A system cannot understand itself. The transformation requires a view from outside – a lens that Deming called it a system of profound knowledge.
ii. A map of theory by which to understand the organizations that people work in.
iii. The first step is transformation of individual. This transformation is not continuous. This transformation of individual comes from understanding of the system of profound knowledge.
iv. The individual transformed will perceive new meaning to his life, to events, to numbers of interactions between people.
v. Once the individual understands the system of profound knowledge, he will apply its principles in every kind of relationship with other people.
vi. Once the individual understands the system of profound knowledge, he will have a basis for judgement of his own decisions and for transformation of organizations that he belongs to.
vii. Once the individual is transformed, he will set an example, he will be a good listener but will not compromise, he will continually teach other people and he will help people to pull away from their current practices and beliefs and move into the new philosophy without a feeling of guilt about the past.

Deming advocated that all managers must to have a System of Profound Knowledge. A system of profound knowledge consists of four parts: (i) Appreciation of a system, (ii) Knowledge of variation, (iii) Theory of knowledge, (iv) Knowledge of psychology. Accordingly, a manager must have the understanding of the overall processes including suppliers, producers, and customers (or recipients or end users) of goods and services. He must have knowledge of the range and causes of variation in quality and use of statistical techniques in measurements. He must understand the concepts explaining different things and limits. He must have the knowledge of concepts of human nature, thus he should be an expert in psychology. Deming explained his concept on the system of profound knowledge and stated that one need be eminent neither in any part nor in all four parts in order to understand it or apply it. Deming puts the 14 points for management in industry, education and government to follow as application for transformation. The System of Profound Knowledge is the basis for application of Deming’s famous 14 points for management.

Deming in Indian context

Deming visited India as a delegate from the A. A. A. S. to the Indian Science Congress, New Delhi in January 1947. He worked as a consultant in sampling to the Government of India during January – February 1947, December 1951 and March 1971.

Deming’s 14 points for management

Deming’s book ‘Out of the Crisis’ mentioned Deming’s famous 14 points for management for transforming business effectiveness, which are as under:
1. Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service, with the aim to become competitive, 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 massive inspection by building quality into the product in the first place.
4. End the practice of awarding business on the basis of a price tag. Instead, minimize 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 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.
9. Break down barriers between departments. People in research, design, sales, and production must work as a team, in order to foresee problems of production and usage 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.
11. a. Eliminate work standards (quotas) on the factory floor. Substitute with leadership.
b. Eliminate management by objective. Eliminate management by numbers and numerical goals. Instead substitute with leadership.
12. a. 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.
b. 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.

Deming’s Seven Deadly Diseases and Lesser Category of Obstacles

Deming described ‘Seven Deadly Diseases’ as under:

1. Lack of constancy of purpose
2. Emphasis on short-term profits
3. Evaluation by performance, merit rating, or annual review of performance
4. Mobility of management
5. Running a company on visible figures alone
6. Excessive medical costs
7. Excessive costs of warranty, fueled by lawyers who work for contingency fees

‘A Lesser Category of Obstacles’ include the following:

1. Neglecting long-range planning
2. Relying on technology to solve problems
3. Seeking examples to follow rather than developing solutions
4. Excuses, such as, ‘Our problems are different.’
5. Obsolescence in school that management skill can be taught in classes
6. Reliance on quality control departments rather than management supervisors, managers of purchasing and production workers
7. Placing blame on workforces who are only responsible for 15% of mistakes where the system designed by management is responsible for 85% of the unintended consequences
8. Relying on quality inspection rather than improving product quality

Deming modified PDCA Cycle

Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle was made popular by Dr. W. Edwards Deming, referring it as ‘Shewhart Cycle’, later he modified this cycle to ‘Plan-Do-Study-Act’ (PDSA) cycle because Deming felt that ‘check’ emphasized inspection over analysis.

With best wishes,


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