“Long-term commitment to new learning and new philosophy is required of any management that seeks transformation. The timid and the fainthearted, and the people that expect quick results, are doomed to disappointment.” -W. Edwards Deming

Dr. Deming’s Ideas Dr. Deming’s famous 14 Points, originally presented in Out of the Crisis, serve as management guidelines. The points cultivate a fertile soil in which a more efficient workplace, higher profits, and increased productivity may grow.

Create and communicate to all employees a statement of the aims and purposes of the company.

Adapt to the new philosophy of the day; industries and economics are always changing.

Build quality into a product throughout production.

End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price tag alone; instead, try a long-term relationship based on established loyalty and trust.

Work to constantly improve quality and productivity.

Institute on-the-job training.

Teach and institute leadership to improve all job functions.

Drive out fear; create trust.

Strive to reduce intradepartmental conflicts.

Eliminate exhortations for the work force; instead, focus on the system and morale.
(a) Eliminate work standard quotas for production. Substitute leadership methods for improvement.
(b) Eliminate MBO. Avoid numerical goals. Alternatively, learn the capabilities of processes, and how to improve them.

Remove barriers that rob people of pride of workmanship

Educate with self-improvement programs.

Include everyone in the company to accomplish the transformation.

Category: Corporate Management, Philosophy

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

15 Responses to “W. Edwards Deming: 14 Points for Management”

  1. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    BR: C. Northcote Parkinson and his dissection of the growth of bureaucracies in his book, ‘Parkinson’s Law: The Pursuit of Progress’, does as thorough an examination on the self expanding and wasteful qualities of bureaucracies (embodied within the British Civil Service), as has ever been conducted.

    Must read.




    The man was brilliant.

  2. constantnormal says:

    I wonder, if one were to examine the top 100 corporations using this as a guide, what fraction of them would meet even half of these points … I suspect it would be in the (low, very low) single-digit percentages … Apple and Google likely fit this pattern, but I cannot think of a single large bank or manufacturing concern that does … only a few financial companies (looking beyond the banks) — of any size — would meet more than half of these criteria …

    How is it that we are planning to remain the leading economy on the planet? What is our game plan to do so?

    • Agree.

      Today, the first item on the list would be/is “Create and enunciate your plan for influencing the legal environment to assure that your revenues do not depend on the vagaries of a market but rather on the enduring nature of specialized legal advantage. The following points are secondary”

    • Crocodile Chuck says:

      “but I cannot think of a single large bank or manufacturing concern that does … only a few financial companies (looking beyond the banks) — of any size — would meet more than half of these criteria”

      name one ‘financial company’. One.


  3. rd says:

    Deming was a major propoonent of continuous improvement is small bites. It is amazing how those add up to big changes over time.

    Unfortunately, most corporate management teams I have run into over the years believe in the “Big Transformation” with grandiose announcements that die quickly after the first wave of memos are issued because the deveil is in the details in the end. So, they are so focued on “re-envisioning” the company that they forget to fight the small daily battles to make things better.

  4. Bob is still unemployed   says:

    As an antithesis to Mr. Deming’s points, I proffer points of my own, points that I wrote down a few years ago to describe a c-level manager in a company I had worked for…

    - He needed to control everything and everything. Micromanagement was his forte, he trusted no one else to make decisions.

    - He was arrogant and closed minded. If there was a good idea, he would be the one to think of it.

    - He did not develop or inspire an atmosphere of trust within his organization.

    - No one would go out of their way for him.

    - There was never any sense of accomplishment when you worked for him (and he made it very clear that people worked for him, not with him).

    - In summary, he was not a good leader. Indeed, his tenure had the opposite effect — deadlines were missed, morale plummeted, talented people left for other jobs, etc.

  5. James P says:

    Deming, a product of WWII, put Japan on the postwar road to productivity that kicked US ass. The pushback from management against implementation of Deming is incredible. My CEO told me, “We are not doing that, they will all want raises”. Organized labor is no help either. Deming cannot work in an adversarial relationship. A study of and especially participation in a Deming workshop is a real eye opener. Deming principles should be practiced in any employee owned business.

  6. [...] it’s a worthy aspiration and commitment nonetheless.  As W. Edwards Deming (who Barry Ritholtz wrote about this week-end), perhaps the original data scientist, famously emphasized: “In God we trust; all [...]

  7. ilsm says:

    The “system” is mostly the fault and cutting [for example] food stamps will only worsen the “system’s” outcomes.

    Deming made me a liberal.

    He taught that most defects are from the “system” not the people. The majority failures are “system defects”. The rare defect from a human error he called a “special defect”.

    So, when I see a poor person I first suspect; what about the system cause the person to fail.

    Before WW II Deming contributed to picking the best corn seed from experiment results, using what because statistical inference etc..

  8. Bob is still unemployed   says:

    > He taught that most defects are from the “system” not the people. The majority failures are “system defects”. The rare defect from a human error he called a “special defect”.

    This part of your comment requires further examination….

    It is difficult to ascertain whether you are being sarcastic in your comment, or whether you truly believe what you say. OK, it’s not really that difficult….

    But to your point…

    For example, in software development, the earlier a bug is detected in the software process, the cheaper it is to fix. It is far simpler to fix a bug during the design phase, than it is to fix that same bug when millions of customers are using the software.

    But, how few managers allow for enough design time on software? Most managers deem design time to be wasted time because “nothing is being done.”

    So you wind up with the situation in which you need an excessively long testing time for the software (or worse, you ship alpha software to customers and congratulate them for being “early experience” customers).

    The excessively long testing time raises all manner of red flags in management, who quickly inform you that you do not know what you are doing.

    When you inform those managers that you wanted an additional week of design time, instead of the two months of testing time, they are incredulous.

    So, where does the problem reside? In the “system” or the “special defects”?

  9. farmera1 says:

    Ah, Deming (and Juran), both great names in Quality Control. Deming was a great in believer in Statistical Process Control aka SPC, Continuous Improvement, Quality Circles. Deming was a national hero in Japan. In the US he was looked at as an eccentric old man.

    His under-lying point was that almost all errors and quality problems come from the system (also read management). The workers cause very small parts of the quality problems. My experience is about
    85% management caused and controlled(the system) vs workers 15%. Not only that, processes can be made much more efficient, reliable, and put out better products (much smaller variability) if management does its job. Workers are largely helpless to improve systems without being given the tools like training and quality circles.

    Having been around this stuff for decades during my working life, I saw this up close and personal. There are several insurmountable problems in implementing DEming’s way in most American industry:

    -Management doesn’t understand any of it, not the statistics, not the necessary long term focus and certainly not the patience required nor do they want to
    -American management is entirely focused on next quarters profits, which makes implementing Deming’s way impossible
    -Much of Deming’s way is anti-American. Involve the workers in decisions, that is un American.
    -American management’s answer to everything is to cut workers, cut workers pay, cut workers benefits. That’s what it takes to manage next quarters profits and hence the stock prices, which happens to be how management gets paid the big bucks via stock options. Long term are you kidding. I’ll be gone you’ll be gone.

    To implement this stuff takes workers and management that receive training in high school in SPC. It takes a belief and a certain set of values. These necessary parts were developed in Japan where Deming was a hero. They never really took hold in US industry. In Japan they seem to be slipping re:
    Toyota’s recent quality problems. I believe Japan and much of the rest of the world has been retrained by American industry and the subsequent drop in quality and productivity shows.

  10. John Hunter says:

    You may be interested in the The W. Edwards Deming Institute Blog


    And the most recent blog post lists online resources about Deming’s management ideas.

  11. [...] I love Deming.  And I guess I’m not the only one.  From Ritholtz.  [...]

  12. songsheet says:

    Deming is Fix the process, not the person.

  13. [...] W. Edwards Deming: 14 Points for Management [...]