Mike Micklewright, Deming Impersonator


You might recall that I posted back in January about a “Deming impersonator” who was presenting/performing. Thank to that post, I was contacted by Mike Micklewright, the creator and performer of the impersonator (in addition to being President of his firm, Quality Quest). He kindly sent me a DVD of “What Would Deming Say?” and I have to say I really enjoyed it.

Mike is by no means a dead ringer for Dr. Deming, but with the glasses, the suit, and the close-cropped hair, he approximates what a “young Dr. Deming” might have looked like. Mike has obviously studied the speaking patterns and mannerisms of Dr. Deming and a comparison with Dr. Deming videos on YouTube confirms he does a pretty good job. I had my dad (who had gone through Dr. Deming's 4-day seminar) watch it and he thought it was a pretty good effort, as well.

In his hour-long presentation, Mike not only repeats some of Dr. Deming's key messages, he also brings along a trusty overhead projector, which he utilizes the way Dr. Deming did. It makes you wonder if, were he still alive today, if Dr. Deming would have clung to his transparencies, even in an era of PowerPoint.

In addition to covering some of the history of quality improvement and Dr. Deming's work, Mike also gives some interpretations of what Dr. Deming might have said about more “modern” business issues. These topics include the use of Six Sigma and Toyota Production System principles, as well as outsourcing. He emphasizes that Lean is about “respect for and involvement of the people.” He takes on the ills of the business world that still surround us, including short-term thinking, annual employee reviews, and focusing on outputs and specifications instead of process.

Mike/Deming said:

“One of the main root causes of Toyota's success is self reliance. By trying to become more like Toyota, we are becoming less like Toyota. This is the paradox. Nobody taught Toyota tools – 5S, kaizen, value stream mapping. These were outputs of their own system. Today, American companies buy Lean tools, Six Sigma, ISO-9001, sourcing from China and India, instead of developing internally. We are NOT self reliant.”

You can contact Mike through his website, especially if you're looking to hire him to speak at an event, meeting, or workshop. You can also find links to articles, including this clever one about the “Society of the Anti-Deming” (SAD) and their alternative universe 14 points.

Mike has agreed to do a podcast with me, at least part of it in his Deming impersonator mode. If you have any questions for “What Would Deming Say?”, post a comment or email me here and we'll try to incorporate them. Stay tuned.

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. I’d have to go back to the DVD, but it’s the typical perspective that employees deserve feedback more frequently than annual batches (the annual performance review)… that leaders should coach their employees all year long.

  2. If Hal Holbrook could bring Mark Twain back to life, I suppose Mike can bring back Deming. Maybe the crankiness and exhortatory style helps reinforce the message. Now can we find some actors to bring back Taiichi Ohno, Shigeo Shingo and Henry Ford?

  3. In case my endorsement seemed half hearted (I wouldn’t have put Mike on here if I didn’t love his DVD), here is what I wrote for his linkedin.com endorsement:

    Mike has an outstanding “What Would Deming Say?” presentation where he speaks for an hour in the persona of Dr. W. Edwards Deming. It really is quite amazing. Mike has Deming’s speech patterns and mannerisms down… you really might think it was a young Dr. Deming standing there.

    More importantly, the content and the message is top notch. Deming’s message is just as relevant today as it was the day he passed away in the early 90’s. Mike carries the torch and updates Deming’s message, in an appropriate way, for modern business issues and challenges.

    I think he would make a great speaker for a professional gathering or association.

  4. I saw Mike “do his Deming” at one of the first meetings of the Deming Institute. It was not long after Dr. Deming’s death, and it really was touching and strangely profound to (almost) have him back in the room with us. I will never forget the way people reacted (tears and laughter). It was a touching tribute. I remember one of Mike’s lines in particular. Speaking to the crowd of people as if Dr. Deming had “returned from the dead”, mentioning people by name (kind of a roast), Mike (Dr. Deming said), “I’m proud of some of you!”
    .-= Mike Stoecklein ´s last blog ..More Thoughts on Innovation =-.


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