Deming’s 14 Points

Dr. W. Edward Deming’s 14 points

Before you spend money on Lean, Six Sigma or other training programs, may I suggest we all go to a key source of innovation and the Father of TQM, Dr. W. Edward Deming.

Deming offered fourteen key principles for management for transforming business effectiveness. The points were first presented in his book Out of the Crisis. (p. 23-24)[22]

1.”Create constancy of purpose towards improvement”. Replace short-term reaction with long-term planning.

2.”Adopt the new philosophy”. The implication is that management should actually adopt his philosophy, rather than merely expect the workforce to do so.

3.”Cease dependence on inspection”. If variation is reduced, there is no need to inspect manufactured items for defects, because there won’t be any. In essence, this is the root of Six Sigma.

4.”Move towards a single supplier for any one item.” Multiple suppliers mean variation between feedstocks.

5.”Improve constantly and forever”. Constantly strive to reduce variation. Continual improvement is the root of Lean.

6.”Institute training on the job”. If people are inadequately trained, they will not all work the same way, and this will introduce variation.

7.”Institute leadership”. Deming makes a distinction between leadership and mere supervision. The latter is quota- and target-based.

8.”Drive out fear”. Deming sees management by fear as counter- productive in the long term, because it prevents workers from acting in the organisation’s best interests.

9.”Break down barriers between departments”. Another idea central to TQM is the concept of the ‘internal customer’, that each department serves not the management, but the other departments that use its outputs.

10.”Eliminate slogans”. Another central TQM idea is that it’s not people who make most mistakes – it’s the process they are working within. Harassing the workforce without improving the processes they use is counter-productive.

11.”Eliminate management by objectives”. Deming saw production targets as encouraging the delivery of poor-quality goods.

12.”Remove barriers to pride of workmanship”. Many of the other problems outlined reduce worker satisfaction.

13.”Institute education and self-improvement”.

14.”The transformation is everyone’s job”.

Deming has been criticised for putting forward a set of goals without providing any tools for managers to use to reach those goals (just the problem he identified in point 10). His inevitable response to this question was: “You’re the manager, you figure it out.”


2 thoughts on “Deming’s 14 Points

  1. When Dr. Deming left Japan, they understood these concepts and yet still were confused about how to implement many of these points (US managers are not alone there). Dr. Joe Juran was second to arrive in Japan, but was more influential in the actual implementation of the concepts of planning for quality. His message was effective because he provided the clear analogy of planning our quality strategy the same way we plan our financial strategy (this translates the idea into the language managers are most familair with). In addition, his “breakthrough sequence” trilogy of process design, process control, process improvement also helps to clarify what is required in any situation (and highlights that the ideas are VERY different).

    Dr. Deming has his name on the Japanese prize because he was first to arrive. In Japanese culture, the honor goes to the “first in”, so to speak. I would argue that Dr. Juran was equally as influential, and should be included in any organization’s plan to improve.

  2. I am not arguing tha Dr. Juran was as influential or that his plan for implementation should go unwarranted. However, Dr. Deming identified the keys for an organization to be effective. It is my experience that when you identify goals and do not identify the tasks to achieve those goals, you are allowing your organization to create the best system for your organization. You are allowing your personnel to be empowered to determine how they are to accomplish the goal. The principles laid out by Dr. Deming are the framework to work within when developing the systems for your organization.

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