Book Review

Out of the Crisis by W. E. Deming

I’m inspired by what little I know of W.E. Deming’s work.  I first read about Deming’s work when I read The Quality School by William Glasser. Glasser wrote about Deming’s 14 points as a framework for creating a respectful personnel management system. I never made it through all of Deming’s book, Out of the Crisis. Much of the statistical jargon used in the book goes over my head. And, I can’t even be sure that I understand the 14 points as they apply to every sector, but what I do understand aligns with what I already understood about human motivation, development, and behavior. Over the next few months, I’ll be taking the time to unpack each of the 14 points as I think they might apply to education as a whole, and describe how they apply to my own family.

My goal is to try and connect what we know about some areas of life and apply principles across other areas of life that we think could be better. Here are the 14 points as written by Deming.

  1. Create constancy of purpose for 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 a 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 every 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. A and B. Eliminate work standards (quotas) on the factory floor. Substitute leadership. Eliminate management by objective. Eliminate management by numbers, numerical goals. Substitute leadership.
  12. A and B. 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. E. Deming – Out of the Crisis

If you’d like to see Deming describe these 14 points: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsF-8u-V4j4

NBC documented some of the outcomes of this management style in an NBC White Paper Special: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcG_Pmt_Ny4

Some critics might say that Deming’s 14 points are not the most effective way to achieve quality, and maybe they’re right. I certainly don’t know every example where his 14 points were put into place. But, I don’t always evaluate a method by its effectiveness alone. I look mostly at the integrity of a method. Deming’s 14 points are full of dignity for the workers of a company and uphold the highest values of teamwork, respect, and quality. The little I know about Japan’s turnaround, mostly detailed in the NBC documentary, Deming’s 14 points are not only the most respectful of people, but produce the highest quality as well.

I’m excited about writing more about each of these points and will link each larger description to the points in this list.

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