Talk:W. Edwards Deming/Archive01

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Archived discussions - Sept 2002 - May 2006

Middle name

Deming went by his middle name, Edwards, since his father was also called William. Title of the page should reflect this, since he is usually refered to in most literature as 'W. Edwards Deming'.

 It is done.  Two Halves

W. Edwards Deming 14 Points for Management

1) Create a constancy of purpose to improve quality and service, to become competitive and stay in business.

2) Adopt the new philosophy

3) Cease dependance on mass inspection

4) End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price tag alone

5) Contstantly and forever improve the system of production and service

6) Institute Modern Training methods on the job

7) Institute Modern methods of supervision

8) Drive out fear

9) Break down barriers between staff areas

10) Eliminate numerical goals for the work force

11) Eliminate work standards and numerical quotas

12) Remove barriers that hinder the hourly worker

13) Institute a vigorous program of education and training

14) Create a structure in top management that will push every day on the above 13 points.


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He published several books (notably Out of the Crisis in 1986) on what became known as Total Quality Management (TQM) or Total Quality Control (TQC) and New Economics.

The above quote implies that Deming approved of or maybe even taught TQM. However, David Salsburg calls TQM a "fad" and writes that:

Deming viewed all of this as nothing more than empty words and exhortations from management ...

Which to me implies that Deming was somewhat critical of TQM.

"Dr. Deming meets the interpreted Deming... I recall one particular seminar held in California about five years ago. The audience had participated in group discussions and some members of the audience were asked to report on their groups' work in a discussion session. Dr. Deming was sitting on the platform listening to the discussion.

One man began to talk about his organization's total quality management (TQM) program. At one point, he referred to Dr. Deming as the "father of TQM." In reaction to the man's description of TQM, Dr. Deming said, "Where did you hear that? You didn't hear it here!" After repeated comments from Dr. Deming, the man finally realized that he should leave the talking to someone else."

Getting back to Deming

Deming Takes Issue With TQM

Someone, please check me on this. Uncle Ed 20:44, 16 October 2005 (UTC)

Uncle Ed, Deming did write Out of the Crisis. It grew out of his lecture notes and was to be used as part of his lectures. It was first published by the MIT Center for Advanced Engineering in 1982 as Quality, Productivity, and Competitive Position but was renamed for the mass market in 1986. And yes, Deming is associated with the birth of TQM, although he may not have been altogether happy with what it became. mydogategodshat 23:17, 16 October 2005 (UTC)
Ah, now we're getting somewhere. I'm trying to understand why Salsburg's book of historical anecdotes would make Deming seem to despise the very thing he had created.
I know that Deming did a lot of good by focusing on quality. But I also know from reading and from personal experience that saying "We want quality" is often paying lip service.
It's actually quite rare for industry or the professions to find and use any effective practice for improving quality. I've adopted "test-driven development" as espoused by Martin Fowler: write an automated unit test first, then write the code; this produces a test, write, refactor cycle which is at least twice as quick as the code and debug cycle. Wikipedia barely even mentions these practices, and I'm too busy actually using them to make gobs of money to stop and describe them, but my clients are happy!
Anyway, thanks for the tip. Uncle Ed 01:11, 17 October 2005 (UTC)
23May06 (+7 months later): I have also used "test-driven development" and noticed that even a few representative tests can be used to detect problems: it was not necessary to have complete test-coverage of all functions, just a few, limited tests would provide a "sanity check" to the usability of the unit, in general. The limited-tests approach reduces the amount of test-cases that must be updated if the unit changes significantly, although it could be argued that more tests would provide more protection/reliability in the future and "pay for themselves" even when needing to be updated to match significant changes. Dr. Deming advocated a return to mass inspection to handle extreme safety concerns. -Wikid77 13:38, 23 May 2006 (UTC)


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He advocated the use of closely monitored reports about the state of factory machines to keep production quality high for the least amount of investment. His system was particularly elegant and effective, in that the number of required observations was surprisingly low in order to determine if a machine needed to be adjusted or replaced, or if an entire batch of product should be discarded or accepted.

This seems to contradict the following "14 points" extract:

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. [1]

Uncle Ed, I don't think the contradiction that you mention is real. Both statements are true. Deming felt that by inspecting machinery prior to production, it would reduce the need to inspect products after they had been made. mydogategodshat 23:00, 16 October 2005 (UTC)

Questions remain

This leaves us with a number of questions:

  1. What is TQM?
  2. Did Deming originate, teach, or advocate TQM?
  3. If not, what's the difference between TQM and Deming's teachings?

It seems the main point of Deming's teachings is missing from the article about him. He spoke of quality as a management responsibility. He said that the system is 85% of what determines the result, so don't blame the workers when things go wrong.

22May06: I have added 10 major Concepts/Quotations from Deming to elaborate his ideas; there isn't one "main point" but a system of several concepts together, including how to change, how to stabilize, how to measure, how to think, how to automate & who is responsible. The complex facets of the Deming System make it difficult to describe in a "nutshell" without about 40 regions: that's why people study for months or years to grasp many of his concepts (imagine: teaching students w/o grading! versus strict testing in today's NCLB!). Perhaps the "main point" is that Deming was an advanced alien genius far beyond the comprehension of 99.99%. -Wikid77 10:15, 22 May 2006 (UTC)


The concepts/quotations section is a good effort at helping the reader understand some of Deming's key ideas that are often misunderstood. Are you sure that "You can expect what you inspect" is a Deming quote? I am interested in reading the source and the context of the quote if it is. Thanks. Leaders100 19:13, 4 June 2006 (UTC)

He did something in Japan - which was not accepted in America - to revitalize Japanese industry to the extent that "made in Japan" ceased to be an epithet indicative of poor quality. What did he do? Uncle Ed 21:39, 16 October 2005 (UTC)

Uncle Ed, if I had to put "What he did" into one brief statement, I would say he changed the way quality control was done; instead of checking the output from a production process (an "end of pipe" approach), he developed a range of statistical techniques (such as sampling and variance charting) that would control quality right from the beginning and at every stage through out the process. mydogategodshat 23:26, 16 October 2005 (UTC)
Deming taught so many other ideas: such as constancy of management, promoting knowledgeable people during a period of years; emphasizing joy in work; working smarter not harder to avoid burnout & letting people feel human at work; emphasizing cooperation in groups rather than individual sales commissions or personal bonuses (like Kenneth Lay's 278 $million Enron stock bonus beyond his 5 $million salary); using improving sole suppliers and less competition; fostering joy but not greed; avoiding work quotas (like x-number of speeding tickets); having adequate "lifeboats" (workarounds) because nothing is perfect or zero-defect, etc. Deming had so many points, that his continuous-improvement system was much more than just upfront-testing: many Japanese had slow, easy, enjoyable work for years doing something significant, long-term. Meanwhile, America had zero-tolerance zeroes promoting themselves to higher-paid unstable incompetence, forcing Americans into no substitute for (graded) hard work, which soon would be discarded or obsolete against new knowledge. Create a get-rich-quick system where money (not knowledge) buys decisions & popularity, and see what happens. 'Nuf said. -Wikid77 10:15, 22 May 2006 (UTC)

Too hasty?

"Total Quality Management was developed in the mid 1940s by Dr. W. Edward Deming who at the time was an advisor in sampling at the Bureau of Census and later became a professor of statistics at the New York University Graduate School of Business Administration." [2]

Hmm. Looks like Deming created TQM. Now I don't know what to think. Help!

For a concise (20 page) introduction to Deming, see chapter one (entitled Deming-The Man and his Mission) of Mary Walton's book The Deming Management Method 1986, Putnum Publishing ISBN 0-399-55000-3 mydogategodshat 23:43, 16 October 2005 (UTC)


Hey, God's Hat: want to work on this article together? Me just cutting and pasting parts that look strange, isn't getting the job done! Uncle Ed 01:12, 17 October 2005 (UTC)

More links about Deming methods

I think it would be useful if the page could contain more links referring in deeper to Demings methods and how they can be applied. Could someone please add some useful external links. Thanks, Evolve2k

21May06: I have added section "Concepts and Quotations" for Deming's methods, including the phrase "Shewhart Cycle" (those phrases can then be searched elsewhere/everywhere). -Wikid77 21:54, 21 May 2006 (UTC)

'No MBO, No Management Theory '

Though i am a Managemet Student, I belong to the school of thought that the aim of every organisation and the management therein (which I see as the Spinal Cord)is to fulfil an objective which varies from one organisation to the other.

There is always an objective to work towards and achieve. Some manamgement's objective is solely the provision of goods and services and others, services to the public (This is to meet the first 4 lower levels of the Maslow's heirarchy of needs). Some have Profit making objectives and others are non profitable (but only for charitable courses). In fact, some are just to satisfy the higher level of Marslow's herachy of needs (Actualisation Purpose).

The overall achivement of this objective as agreed by the Proprietors (largely, the Board of Directors - Management) is dependent on time, pulic demand, supply of machine, money, and labour and their collective orientation.

I however agree with W Edwards Deming's theory which I call the quality of management's purpose and objective. I like to state that there will be no management without an objective, vis a vis [? "face to face"], as management naturally will reate [create] a structure and strategies to achieving their type of objectives.

Tobi Akiode (BSc Economics)

23May06 (months later): I think Dr. Deming viewed MBO as, typically, the Machiavellian "The Ends justifies the Means" (Niccolo Machiavelli): for managers to want higher output & lower costs is natural, but "by what method? ..only the method counts" (Deming quote). Dr. Deming gave many real-life examples of how the method (the Means) to achieve objectives was hideous: destroying people's morale or selling parts of companies just to look profitable that year. Then, look at Enron: faking profit by borrowing money in subsidiaries & re-paying on a deferred plan that delays huge expenses until later years? Enron achieved its Management-By-Objective, but by what method? Call the Deming System as "MBS": "Management by System" including the Means (methods/processes), the Ends (objectives + customer systems), and the Inputs (supplier systems) long-term, etc. Many people have instantly argued against the Deming System, but then, after years, more people began to understand his extensive system of management. The Deming System has so many facets that it takes time to understand. -Wikid77 14:26, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

2006-06-24: response to Tobi Akiode's comment, posted by Iain Barraclough. (PhD Nuclear Physics) - not that this is at all relevant to my notes. If one simply fails to grasp an understanding of Deming's reasoning for points 10 and 11 of his 14-point philosophy, then there is no acceptable excuse for intellectual laziness and rationalisation as to why one's own view (based on what one has been taught) is "correct" and how that of Deming's therefore has a different place in the scheme of things. Saying "I think Dr. Deming viewed MBO as...", is classic simplistic thinking for "I want to make something up that helps me to rationalise my own view". Whether we "...agree with Dr Deming...", as you put it, is neither here nor there. Your agreement is not asked for, and is irrelevant. Your understanding is what is probably needed, and that is something you will need to work at. The trouble is that you are an MBA student who has been taught something that Deming has subsequently shown is inherently wrong and cannot be substantiated, and yet you believe it implicitly because, like me, you probably had faith in your teachers. It used to be taught that the world was flat, but most of us have got over that now.

When I attended one of Deming's educational seminars, I personally found it very difficult to accept and understand what he was saying about eliminating targets and management by objectives, simply because I had been taught about and unquestioningly believed in those things - they are two of the "sacred cows" of western business management teaching. I was so attached to these cows that I was eager to jump to their defence before I even started to follow through his reasoning for killing them in the first place. I so desperately wanted them to live. Unfortunately, that humble academic's wisdom and intelligence left me no place to hide away with my rationalisations, and I became a very reluctant convert when the penny dropped the morning of the third day of his seminar. He also kicked a few other of my cherished beliefs/dogmas into the dustbin.

Deming said that the 14 points were fundamentally important for the transformation that needed to take place, and that they needed to be taken as a whole (i.e., no picking and choosing) if you were to make a success of the transformation - "otherwise, result, disaster" he would say gloomily.

The transformation was not only just the transformation of business, but also of the thinking of the management involved in the business. He described a System of Profound Knowledge (notes on this can be found elsewhere), where "the first step is the transformation of the individual". He describes a detailed a plan for the transformation, pointing out such things as, for example, the importance of having an understanding of psychology and of the basic theory of statistical variance. Thus he says, "A psychologist that possesses even a crude understanding of variation as will be learned in the experiment with the Red Beads (Ch.7) could no longer participate in refinement of a plan for ranking people.", as he proceeds to kill yet another sacred cow.

So, if you do not fully comprehend the 14 points, then you need exercise some more critical thinking. I have been humbled at how Deming's reasoning stands up, and at how simple he tried to make things so that we could understand them more easily.

W Edwards Deming said "Targets achieve nothing. Wrong. Their achievement is negative."

There is an interesting reference to this at:,,1779596,00.html