I recently re-read Frank Voehl’s excellent book; Deming – The Way We Knew Him, and it brought back many personal memories about Dr. Deming and focused me once again on his teachings.
In the July issue of Taking Action, I highlighted Dr. Deming’s education and summarized what Dr. Deming taught the Japanese. In this issue of Taking Action, I will summarize Deming’s work in the United States after Japan.
I hope you enjoy this issue and encourage you to take advantage of the many hyperlinks I have incorporated into the text.
Part Two: Dr. Deming’s Work After Japan
In 1980, Dr. Deming was prominently featured in the NBC documentary titled If Japan can… why can’t we? The documentary was about the increasing industrial competition the United States was facing from Japan. As a result of the broadcast, demand for his consulting services increased dramatically.
Ford Motor Company was one of the first American corporations to seek help from Deming. Between 1979 and 1982, Ford had incurred $3 billion in losses. Ford’s newly appointed Division Quality Manager, John A. Manoogian, was charged with recruiting Dr. Deming to help jump-start a quality movement at Ford. To Ford’s surprise, Dr. Deming did not talk about quality, Dr. Deming talked about the failures of management. Dr. Deming questioned the company’s culture and the way its’ managers operated, telling Ford that management actions were responsible for 85% of all the problems the company was having in its efforts to develop better cars.
Ford listened, and by 1986, only four years later, Ford became the most profitable automobile manufacturing company in America.
Other companies that committed to Dr. Deming’s ideas about continual improvement included Florida Power & Light (the first American company to win the Deming Prize), Colonial Penn, Hospital Corporation.
In 1982, Dr. Deming had his first book published by the MIT Center for Advanced Engineering as Quality, Productivity, and Competitive Position, which was renamed Out of the Crisis in 1986. In the book, Dr. Deming offers a theory of management based on his famous 14 Points for Management. Dr. Deming said: “Management’s failure to plan for the future brings about loss of market, which brings about loss of jobs. Management must be judged not only by the quarterly dividend, but by innovative plans to stay in business, protect investment, ensure future dividends, and provide more jobs through improved products and services. Long-term commitment to new learning and new philosophy is required of any management that seeks transformation. The timid and the fainthearted, and the people that expect quick results, are doomed to disappointment.”
Over the course of his career, Dr. Deming received dozens of academic awards, including an honorary Ph.D. from Oregon State University. In 1987, Dr. Deming was awarded the National Medal of Technology “For his forceful promotion of statistical methodology, for his contributions to sampling theory, and for his advocacy to corporations and nations of a general management philosophy that has resulted in improved product quality.” In 1988, Dr. Deming received the Distinguished Career in Science award from the National Academy of Sciences.
In 1993 Dr. Deming founded The W. Edwards Deming Institute. The aim of the Institute is to foster understanding of The Deming System of Profound Knowledge to advance commerce, prosperity and peace. Visitors to The W. Edwards Deming Institute website are greeted by the following statement: “Participation in The W. Edwards Deming Institute means that we share Dr. Deming’s vision of a better world. We participate because we strive, with joy, to carry on the work that he began. We seek to conduct ourselves in a manner consistent with his high moral and ethical standards, professional and personal integrity, and commitment to lifelong learning. We do this solely from our dedication to the philosophy and values of Dr. Deming and our belief that together, with humility, we can and will make a difference in the quality of life for everyone.” In December 1993, Dr. W. Edwards Deming died in his sleep, at the age of 93, in his Washington home, his family at his side.
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