W. Edwards Deming

I worked in the quality assurance department of an auto parts manufacture from 1978 – 1993. This is how I came to hear of W. Edwards Deming, one of the leading figures in the implementation of statistical process control. He went to Japan after WW II and played a major part in the transformation of Japanese industry from makers of cheap, low quality items, to becoming worl renowned producers of high quality products.

During the 1980’s the quality of Japanese automobiles and other manufactured goods made North American consumers painfully aware of the lamentable lack of quality in products produced here. That finally brought Deming to the attention of N.A. industry. Ford Motor Company became one of Deming’s largest clients and it is likely due toi his influence that Ford survived the meltdown of the N.A auto industry in the 1990’s.

Deming was born in 1900 and was still very active into his 90’s. He died near the end of 1993. For a number of years I took night courses and in June, 1991 I achieved certification as a Quality Engineer. Two years later I left my job and went to Montreal as a missionary, but I have always retained an interest in the teaches of Mr. Deming.

In addition to insisting on the use of statistical methods to control and evaluate industrial processes, he had a lot to say about management methods. There was also a spiritual side to Deming; he wanted people to remember him as A child of God / A friends to man/ A faithful brother in Christ. He was also a composer of worship music.

I believe this spiritual side had a great influence on his management teachings. He believed that people should not be seen as cogs in the machine, not incited to compete with each other, but that management systems should be designed to enable people to work together in a way that gave them joy in their work and allowed them to do their best. Here are a few quotes:

The individual has been crushed by our style of management today.

Whenever there is fear, you will get wrong figures.

Put a good person in a bad system and the bad system wins, no contest.

If you don’t know how to ask the right question, you discover nothing.

The greatest waste is the failure to use the abilities of the people .

A leader is a coach, not a judge.

If you can’t describe what you’re doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.

A manager of people needs to understand that all people are different. This isn’t ranking people. He needs to understand that the performance of anyone is governed largely by the system that he works in, the responsibility of management.

Eighty-five percent of the reasons for failure are deficiencies in the system and process rather than the employee. The role of management is to change the process rather than badgering individuals to do better.

It is not enough to do your best; you need to know what to do, and then do your best.

People need to know what their jobs are.

People care more for themselves when they contribute to the system

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