W. Edwards Deming is probably best known for his “14 Points for Management”, the key actions management must take to ensure quality, productivity, and success. Among other things, this plan encourages leaders to stop doing business based on price alone, to constantly improve the production system, to utilize job training, and to encourage pride in workmanship. Deming also taught management leaders to encourage cooperation at all levels. In addition, he instructed them to assure job stability and to equally value all employees.
He is credited for many other things like contributing largely to the “Japanese Industrial Miracle,” whereby Japan not only recovered from the damages of World War II, but quickly came out ahead as a world economic leader. His educational background in Mathematics and Statistics led him to develop the probability notions that we are still influenced by today. Dr. Deming is well known for a wide variety of contributions to society and science, but this essay is going to focus on his management theory, specifically his “14 Points for Management” and his Theory of Profound Knowledge.
Please note below a summary of his 14 points from his book Out of the Crisis: 1. Constancy of purpose Deming suggested that a company’s principal role was to stay in business, in order to provide jobs. It accomplishes this through innovation, research, constant improvement and self-maintenance. 2. Adopt the new philosophy What Deming proposed was a new philosophy. We are in a new economic age, created in Japan, driven by computer speed and accuracy. We can no longer live with previously accepted levels of delays, mistakes, defective materials, and defective workmanship.
The pathway for change is a “learning organization” in which consistent defects, uncorrected errors and negativism are unacceptable. 3. Cease dependence on mass inspection. Eliminate the need for mass inspection to achieve quality by building quality into the product in the first place. Instead, monitor consumer satisfaction. 4. End low bid contracts. End the practice of awarding business solely on the basis of price. Instead require meaningful measures of quality along with price, and aim at reducing total cost by moving toward a single supplier for any one item, and by developing long term relationships of loyalty and trust. 5.
Improve. Improve constantly and forever every process for planning, production, and service. Search continually for problems in order to improve every activity in the company, to improve quality and productivity, and thus to constantly decrease costs. Institute innovation and constant improvement of product, service, and process. 6. Institute training. New skills are required to keep up with changes in materials, methods, product and service design, machinery, techniques, and service. Too often, workers have learned their job from other workers who were never trained, or were trained poorly. Employ good training, and retrain often. . Institute leadership. The job of a supervisor is not to tell people what to do nor to punish them, but to help people to do a better job and to learn. Adopt and institute leadership aimed at helping people do their best. Improvement of quality will automatically improve productivity if immediate action is taken on reports of inherent defects, maintenance requirements, poor tools, fuzzy operational definitions, and all conditions detrimental to quality. 8. Drive out fear. Many employees are afraid to ask questions or to take a position, even when they do not understand what their job is or what is right or wrong.
They will continue to do things the wrong way, or not do them at all. It is necessary that people feel secure. Eliminate fear throughout the organization. “The only stupid question is the one that is not asked. ” 9. Break down barriers. Break down barriers between departments and staff areas. Units that do not work as teams cannot foresee or address common workplace or industry-wide problems. Problem-solving in isolation creates problems for others. People from different areas must join in teams to solve problems from a multidisciplinary perspective. 10. Eliminate exhortations.
Slogans, posters and numerical targets never help anybody do a good job. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships. The bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the design of the system. Employees can create their own slogans, to which they are personally committed. 11. Eliminate arbitrary numerical targets. Eliminate work standards that prescribe quotas for the work force and numerical goals for people in management. Substitute training aids and helpful leadership in order to achieve continual improvements. 12. Permit pride of workmanship.
Remove the barriers that rob hourly workers, and people in management, of their pride of workmanship. This implies, among other things, abolition of merit rating (appraisal of performance) and of Management by Objective. People are eager to do a good job and distressed when they cannot. Too often, misdirection, faulty equipment and defective materials stand in the way of good performance. 13. Encourage education. What an organization needs is not just good people; it needs people that are improving with education. Advances in competitive position will have their roots in advancing knowledge of the field of endeavor. 4. Commit everyone. Take action to accomplish the transformation. A critical mass of people in the company must understand the 14 points. Support is not enough: constant and persistent action is required. The transformation is everybody’s job. Deming’s Theory of Knowledge stresses that a leader must understand the system he or she is attempting to manage. Without understanding this system, it cannot be managed or improved. He also makes the case that optimization of the parts does not optimize the whole, and system optimization requires coordination and cooperation of the parts.
I currently work as a Mathematician in the Systems Analysis Division (SAD), which is part of the Systems Engineering Directorate (SED); so all the quality control, process improvement, statistical methods, and other theories of Deming relates heavily to my daily job, which is why I chose his theories to reflect upon within this essay. As an analyst I can see exactly where the “rubber hits the road” when it comes to his theories, especially his work in the statistics world. I work in the SAD, and that is divided into two branches, the Methodology and Lethality Branch, and the Operational Simulation and Analysis Branch.
Both branches do similar types of analyses, but do not really work “together” so to speak, even though they are all housed on the same floor of a building within a few feet of each other. The lack of communication between the parts of the organization has more recently been recognized and several Six Sigma projects are under way to provide cross-training to employees in the two branches, as well as to standardize the inputs and outputs of our mathematical models so that both sides of the division can more easily work together since we are all here for one common goal, the warfighter.
Another key point that Deming discusses in his works that I would like to touch upon is the notion that evaluation by performance reviews and merit ratings builds fear and destroys teamwork. Here within the US Government, we currently have a General Schedule (GS) pay system. People who are in the same level of position get compensated equally. The current federal administration is pushing a pay-for-performance compensation system for all federal employees.
A trial pay-for-performance system was put in place in some areas of the country called National Security Personnel System (NSPS) and outrage poured out of the unions and the employees. Basically, in the NSPS system, the regular Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) gets put into a pool and at the supervisor’s digression, is awarded to individuals based on performance. Supervisors can even decrease salaries if they feel an employee is not performing at a satisfactory level.
In most cases, as one could guess, the rewards were given out in more of a political basis than an ethical one. Favoritism, competition, and questionable ethics ran rampant. Yet, the White House is still determined to institute such a system. Deming was a brilliant man in so many ways, and hopefully more managers, companies, and government installations will adopt his teachings into practice. The Americans wouldn’t listen to him, but the Japanese did, and Toyota and Lexus are turning profits while American car companies are digging graves.
In the future one can only hope more people, managers, and other leaders will learn from his vital lessons. ? References: Deming, W. E. (1993). The New Economics for Industry, Government, Education. Boston, MA: MIT Press. Deming, W. E. (1986) Out of the Crisis. Boston, MA: MIT Center for Advanced Engineering Study. Magnier, M. (1999). The 50: People Who Most Influenced Business This Century. Los Angeles Times, Special Section, U-8. Tortoella, M. J. (1995). The Three Careers of W. Edwards Deming. Siam News. Retrieved from www. deming. org.
Cite this W. Edwards Deming
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