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Fourteen points on quality management from W. Edwards Deming


The Two Big Ds, Drucker and Deming, are my two favourite management gurus.

Peter Drucker is best known for the many books in which he expounded his famous theories about the practice of management. W. Edwards Deming was a supreme practitioner, whose teaching pointed the Japanese towards the star of quality management on which their post-war breakthrough was based. He summarised his ideas in these far-famed Fourteen Points.

  • “Create constancy of purpose towards improvement”. That means short-term out, long-term in.
  • “Adopt the new philosophy” from top to bottom
  • “Cease dependence on inspection”. You don’t inspect quality into products and services – you design it in and check only by statistical quality control.
  • “Move towards a single supplier for any one item.” Playing many suppliers off against each other is a mug’s game.
  • “Improve constantly and forever”. However good you are, you can always do better.
  • “Institute training on the job” – the best place to learn.
  • “Institute leadership” – going well beyond supervision and its quotas and targets.
  • “Drive out fear”, which makes for bad work – and bad management.
  • “Break down barriers between departments”: no more “silos” and “tubular bells”.
  • “Eliminate slogans”. Exhortation is another counter-productive substitute for real management.
  • “Eliminate management by objectives”. Relying on production and other targets is also counter-productive.
  • “Remove barriers to pride of workmanship”. The key to superior quality lies here – and in the Fourteen Points, which all encourage performance.
  • “Institute education and self-improvement”- which should go without saying.
  • “The transformation is everyone’s job” – and Deming really meant everyone, from and including the top.

Simple, straightforward, not easy, but absolutely worth the effort. W.Edwards Deming’s 14 Points revolutionised an economy. What they did for Japan they can also do for you.

Robert Heller