A Deming Disciple as Candidate for L.A. Mayor?


L.A. Voters For Change: Los Angeles Mayoral Candidate David Saltsburg (Zuma Dogg) Answers Questions For Daily News

I won't pretend to understand Los Angeles politics (or much anything about L.A.). But, through an automated Google alert, I stumbled across a candidate (other than former Speaker Newt Gingrich) who is talking about Dr. W. Edwards Deming, the famed quality and management guru.

The candidate is David Saltsburg and he mentions Deming, talking about the L.A. school district:

I am certainly excited to be able to step up and show everyone the most innovative and empowering leadership at the scholastic level in the history of Los Angeles. My strategy is based on Dr. W. Edwards Deming 14 point management philosophy blueprint. If you don't know about Deming's 14 point plan, please do a search online, because my entire office will be operating under these 14 points (methods for management of quality and productivity). And until LAUSD firmly embraces these principals, the situation will never be allowed to improve, only continue to get worse.

Wow, if only more politicians talked like that.

Um…. on closer inspection, Mr. Saltsburg also goes by the name “Zuma Dogg.” Yeah, that's not a typo. He's not a typical politician (which is a good thing, I'd say). Apparently, he sells products on Venice Beach and is pretty well known for fighting the L.A. City Council over their policies and ordinances, as shown in some pretty bizarre and entertaining YouTube videos, including this one (it sounds like he often has a good case against them).

Update: the videos are no longer available, it seems.

This is the new standard bearer for Dr. Deming's philosophy in government? Interesting, eh? This is either the craziest thing or the most brilliant thing I've seen in a long time (quoting the classic movie This is Spinal Tap, “There's a fine line between stupid and clever.”) I know what some of you might be thinking, but I'd vote for “clever.”

So how do we reconcile Mr. Saltsburg, the candidate, with Zuma Dogg? He does clean himself up for appearances to support his candidacy and he sounds pretty intelligent. At 4:30 into the video below, he mentions Dr. Deming and his 14 points, the “Japanese economic miracle” and the need to cut waste inefficiency from government work.

I'm fascinated. Especially when you see what he writes about the use of the Deming philosophy, in regards to reports that the existing mayor claims to have fixed one million potholes, Salsburg points out the harm done by quotas and targets:

Regarding the filling of one million potholes, the mayor's office has already admitted it's more like 85,000 potholes. Villaraigosa's problem is he goes around spouting off all these slogans and campaign promises that all sound good, but he may as well just get a job as Santa Claus, cause all he does is ready back a wish list. And the problem with the potholes that are being filled, is that they are not filling them properly, by removing the particles and topping off the seal properly, so they just turn into potholes again, way too quickly. I learned this from someone who read about my Deming 14 point plan. He was an engineer and told me he studied Deming and knew I would appreciate the feedback. Which I did.

So because of the quota, workers are under pressure to hit the number instead of doing the work properly the first time? This probably costs the city more in the long run, as he's right to point out.

Well, I'm fascinated. Anyone in SoCal have a perspective on the candidate? Maybe I can get him on the Podcast for an interview? His official campaign website and campaign video are online too. The election is March 3, 2009.

I emailed Saltsburg and got an email back (from Zuma Dogg) and we're going to talk on the phone later today. I'll see if I can turn it into a Podcast. Should be interesting, to say the least.

Update: here is a podcast with him.  

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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. It does my heart good to see this, only 15 years after I wrote QUALITY EDUCATION — which applied Dr. Deming’s ideas to the problems and processes of education. Thanks for pointing this out!

  2. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    So glad to see the Deming crowd take note. Yes, I happened to have studied Deming’s 14 points in the early 90’s as a radio executive.

    And fortunately, Deming himself has a chance to review my “Interpreting Deming’s 14 Points” as published in “Quality Digest” and Deming sent me a letter saying it was, “well done.”

    So it’s great after all of these years to finally be able to bring Deming’s 14 points to the forefront of the City of Los Angeles, because in every newspaper, TV and radio interview I have been doing (a LOT of them), as candidate for mayor of Los Angeles, I am starting off by saying, “The thing that makes me most qualified to be mayor is the fact that I will implement Deming’s 14 points, on day one, as mayor. And everything I say is based on his philosophy, and all my answers are run through his 14 point filter.

    So if nothing else, at the end of this election cycle, next Tuesday March 4th, possibly millions of people in Los Angeles will have heard about this management philosphy and I tell them that until the city embraces and implements these 14 points at City Hall, the city will continue to trip all over themeselves; taking eight months to trim a tree after being kept on hold for a half-hour, only to go to voice mail.

    And I am telling voters, that we must address the immeasurable waste that is draining the city general fund.

    I compare City Hall to your house. And if you were trying to heat your home, all the doors and windows would be open.

    So you have to crank up the heat, some more. And that costs more money and energy.

    But it isn’t working, because the windows are still open. So you have to turn it up some more.

    And you are wasting more money. And operating more in-efficiently.

    So I am telling people that before we move on with anything else, we must shut the windows. And you do that through the 14 points.

    So yeah, you have a unique situation where this funny local TV character “Zuma Dogg” — happens to be a fan of Deming, in real life, and as mayoral candidate, it has put the issue on the map!

    Check out my plan for L.A., also known as “Interpreting Deming’s 14 Points” at http://zumatimes.com. And do a google search for “Zuma-Dogg Deming” for everything I’ve blogged on the topic.

    And so glad some of the Deming people, out there, found this.

    Zuma Dogg
    Candidate for Mayor of Los Angeles

  3. I just recorded a 20 minute podcast with Zuma Dogg, David Saltsburg (speaking as Saltsburg the candidate, not Zuma Dogg the character).

    He has some serious Dr. Deming cred and he knows his stuff.

    I would seriously vote for the man if I lived in L.A.

    Will post the podcast audio ASAP.

  4. Bryan – the interview went great from each of our perspectives. Check it out (most recent post at the top of the blog, Podcast #63).


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