Deming’s First Point

What is your purpose as a parent? I’m not here to tell you what your purpose is, but, according to W.E. Deming, creating a quality service or product comes down to first determine your purpose and making it constant. Let’s take a look at Deming’s first point.

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.

My purpose for writing this is not to convince parents that they are companies and that children are products or customers. But, children are people, even from day 1, and a respectful approach to dealing with people should be able to reasonably apply to all relationships…not just the ones it was written for. I think what Deming is getting at is that management must agree on what the purpose of improving should be. And then he gives you the purpose: to become competitive, stay in business, and provide jobs.

Who suffers when a company does not do this? Everyone does. People lose their jobs. Customers buy defective products. Company value declines. Businesses shut down.

I’ll reword Deming’s first point as I think it applies to our parent/child relationships.

Create constancy of purpose for improvement of the relationship between parent and child, with the aim of remaining a trusted influence during their whole lives.

This seems like a valid and worthwhile purpose to pursue: to constantly improve our relationships with our kids. Do parents you observe constantly work toward this end? Doesn’t it feel like there’s this golden age of connection, around 6 to 9 years old, that parents either look forward to or look back on? Doesn’t it seem like parents dread and anticipate a teenage rebellion at some point? If a company’s bottom line is its downfall then a parent’s must be the child’s behavior. If we focus solely on the behavior the child is exhibiting instead of the relationship then we will do anything and everything to fix the behavior, even as the relationship crumbles before our eyes. But, if we focus on the behaviors as a window into the relationship, we will do anything and everything to protect the relationship, and many of the behaviors, but not all, will lose their purpose.

A few words on purpose. I write from the perspective of Choice Theory, that all behavior is purposeful, and is generated from within the person. When our children rebel, they may not even realize they’re doing it, but the behavior is not being generated from their social media, television, friends, video games; it’s being generated from within because some of their relationships are not meeting all of their needs. Those rebellious behaviors will fulfill no purpose when we begin to provide a relationship that helps them meet their need for survival, freedom, love, power, and fun.

So you might ask, where’s the proof of all this? Deming’s work is well documented and his influence is widely known. This alone doesn’t mean his ideas can be directly applied to parenting, but I’m willing to try and make those connections as best I can. I’ve linked some resources below for further exploration.

From the first post in this series:

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:

NBC documented some of the outcomes of this management style in an NBC White Paper Special:

Philip Mott

I've been working with families for two decades now. I write about topics pertaining to parents of children ages 4-12.

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