Recently I dived into Deming. If you don’t know who W. Edwards Deming (1900 – 1993) was, he is claimed to be ”the father of quality” and also between the lines seen as ”the man who taught the Japanese to do lean” (at least that is my interpretation). I’ve read the book ”The essential Deming” by Joyce Nilsson Orsini, to continue on my journey to learn more about the ”building blocks” that lean and agile resides on.


The book itself was not so good I must say, it was a impulse buy without any deep research done before the purchase. The book is filled with articles, papers, lectures and notes touching on a wide range of topics. The material has not been edited, so it’s a fair amount of repetition. If Deming had lived today, I guess this book would have been a collection of his blog posts :)

Nevertheless, Deming was a statistician and had a lot of clever thoughts on how to use statistical methods for quality control. He also added insights in the area of leadership. ”The essential Deming” holds content about:

  • How poor management infects an entire organization
  • The critical importance of management on producing quality products and services
  • Improving management in any company
  • The effective management of people – the manager’s single most important task
  • How to educate workers into critical thinkers
  • Ways to preserve statistical integrity while dealing with real-world problems

So if you want to know more about Deming, a better starting point may be ”The W. Edwards Deming institute”. Here you will find (amongst others) Deming’s fourteen points for management (also present in the book). To save you some clicking I’ve included them below:

  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 (see Point 12). 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.
    – Eliminate work standards (quotas) on the factory floor. Substitute leadership.
    – Eliminate management by objective. Eliminate management by numbers, numerical goals. Substitute leadership.
  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.

(The list above taken from ”The Fourteen Points For The Transformation Of Management”)