Deming Overview Article in the News

The Whig Standard – Ontario, CA

I’m always curious when I see an article like this in the news about the late Dr. W. Edwards Deming. The article, from Kingston Ontario, Canada, doesn’t reference any local companies. What prompted the reporter to write about this? Not that I’m complaining… it speaks to the relevance of Deming’s message, some 15 years after his passing.

Deming saw a different way for auto businesses to operate. He saw the “assembly-line” mentality of low-income workers being forced into repetitive jobs, while the rich few controlled things from above, as a mentality of the past.

“People are entitled to self-esteem,” he once said. “Our system crushes it out.”

That message still isn’t getting through. People’s spirits get “crushed” in all sorts of settings, be it an auto assembly line or a hospital. When I hear comments like, “I’ve been a nurse here for 6 years and this is the first time anyone has asked me what I think about anything,” it’s sad. As we help hospitals adopt a Lean philosophy and a Lean management system (not just implementing tools), we can start turning that around. It does wonders for the self esteem of employees AND it benefits patients and the hospital, finally getting more employee input.

Since they can’t be repeated enough, the writer cites Deming’s 14 points and I’ll republish them here:


W. Edwards Deming’s theory centered on 14 key principles for management for transforming business effectiveness in the auto industry. They are:

1. Create constancy of purpose.

2. Take the lead in adopting the new philosophy.

3. Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality.

4. End the practice of awarding business on the basis of cheapest cost.

5. Improve constantly.

6. Institute training on the job.

7. Institute leadership.

8. Drive out fear.

9. Break down barriers between departments.

10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations and targets.

11. Eliminate management by numbers, and management by objective. Substitute leadership.

12. Remove barriers to pride in workmanship.

13. Institute education and self-improvement.

14. Put everybody to work to accomplish the transformation.

Does your company use even a few of these ideas?

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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an book titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

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5 Comments on "Deming Overview Article in the News"

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  1. Troy Worman says:

    Great post. It has been a while since I looked at Deming’s 14 Principles. Too long. Thank you.

  2. Ralf Lippold says:

    ….great post:-) Thanks for the summary in such a nice way.

    It is always good to see that good management (and the outcome we all want to see) could be so easily achieved – what are the barriers, obstacles, constraints, mental models that hinder us to make the change?

    Curious to get deeper into action (research).



  3. Brian Buck says:

    I found # 10 counfounding: “Eliminate slogans, exhortations and targets.”

    Slogans are sometimes used to communicate change. While they are just a tiny ingredient in a large recipie for communicating change, they can be effective.

    We use targets in our Lean improvement workshops so the team can measure their success at the end of the week.

    Is Deming really for eliminating these or am I not understanding his intent? Are some of our Lean practices in opposition to his priciples?

  4. Mark Graban says:

    I wrote a post to answer your question:


    Hope it helps.

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