The foundations of Quality, Deming

January 10, 2012

Many people today still see quality as being about 'incremental improvement' rather than innovation and fast dynamic change and particularly those focusing on six sigma tend to see it as being about 'defect reduction/elimination' only. It is good to go back to the original source and for quality that means going back to Deming. Consider these points for how you run your business.

Deming considered that quality starts in one place, top management and it cannot be delegated.

He considered that loyal customers are not enough since they don’t invent or generate anything themselves and only know what you lead them to expect.

We must ask ourselves, what business are we in?  For example is it making carburetors, or is it to provide fuel and air in a combustion chamber?  What will help our customers more?  What will we be doing 5-10 years from now? Our job is to fill needs, not supply a product or service.

He talked about the buggy whip manufacturer. If they kept using incremental improvement only, then great for 100 years they would have been making the world’s best whip. But what is the market for whips today? It is not just about incremental improvement we need to be strategically aware.

It is the linkages or independencies that are important – the system as a whole. The system is about synthesis, synergy, holistic thinking and cooperation.

As for defect reduction, the absence of defects will not keep a business open it is about much more than that, quality is about much more than that.

As for culture, to have joy on the job we must remove fear and anxiety. 

So let’s go right to the source, here are Deming’s 14 points. How do you stack up?

Deming’s 14 points.

  1. Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service, with the aim to become competitive and to 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 inspection on a mass basis by building quality into the product in the first place. 
  4. End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price tag. Instead, minimize total cost. Move toward 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 to 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, to foresee problems of production and in use 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. 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. 
  12. 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.

(W. Edwards Deming Institute)

An interesting way to consider the 14 Points is to think of how sensible it would be to do the opposite i.e. the Anti-Deming. This link will take you to that option and you can see just how nonsensical it would be.

Denis Leonard has a degree in construction engineering an M.B.A. and a Ph.D. in quality management. Denis is a Fellow of the American Society for Quality, a Certified Quality Manager, Auditor, and Six Sigma Black Belt. He has been an Examiner for the Baldrige National Quality Award Board of Examiners a Judge on the International Team Excellence Competition and a Lead Judge on the National Housing Quality Award. A former Professor of Quality at the University of Wisconsin, he has experience as a quality manager in the home building industry as well as construction engineer, site manager, and in training, auditing, and consulting with expertise in strategic and operational quality improvement initiatives. His work has achieved national quality, environmental, and safety management awards for clients. 

Denis is co-author of The Executive Guide to Understanding and Implementing the Baldrige Criteria: Improve Revenue and Create Organizational Excellence.


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