· "There is no substitute for knowledge." This statement emphasizes the need to know more, about everything in the system. Previously, the statement, "There is no substitute for hard work" by Thomas Alva Edison (1847–1931) was the byword of industry. Deming suggested that instead, a small amount of knowledge could save many hours of hard work.
· "In God we trust; all others must bring data."
· "The most important things cannot be measured." The issues that are most important, long term, cannot be measured in advance. However, they might be among the factors that an organization is measuring, just not understood as most important at the time.
· "The most important things are unknown or unknowable." The factors that have the greatest impact, long term, can be quite surprising. Analogous to an earthquake that disrupts service, other "earth-shattering" events that most affect an organization will be unknown or unknowable, in advance. Other examples of important things would be a drastic change in technology, or new investment capital.
· "Experience by itself teaches nothing.” This statement emphasizes the need to interpret and apply information against a framework. It is in contrast to the old statement, "Experience is the best teacher". To Deming, knowledge is best taught by a master who explains the overall system through which experience is judged; experience, without understanding the underlying system, is just raw data that can be misinterpreted against a flawed theory of reality.
· "By what method?... Only the method counts." When information is obtained, or data is measured, the method, or process used to gather information, greatly affects the results. Aim and method are essential. An aim without a method is useless. A method without an aim is dangerous. It leads to action without direction and without constancy of purpose. Deming used an illustration of washing a table to teach a lesson about the relationship between purpose and method. If you tell someone to wash a table, but not the reason for washing it, they cannot do the job properly (will the table be used for chopping food or potting plants?). The information about why the table needs to be washed, and what is to be done with it, makes it possible to do the job intelligently.
· "You can expect what you inspect." Deming emphasized the importance of measuring and testing to predict typical results. If a phase consists of inputs + process + outputs, all 3 are inspected to some extent. Problems with inputs are a major source of trouble, but the process using those inputs can also have problems. By inspecting the inputs and the process more, the outputs can be better predicted, and inspected less. Rather than use mass inspection of every output product, the output can be statistically sampled in a cause-effect relationship through the process.
· "Special Causes and Common Causes": Deming considered anomalies in quality to be variations outside the control limits of a process. Such variations could be attributed to one-time events called "special causes" or to repeated events called "common causes" that hinder quality.
· Acceptable Defects: Rather than waste efforts on zero-defect goals, Deming stressed the importance of establishing a level of variation, or anomalies, acceptable to the recipient (or customer) in the next phase of a process. Often, some defects are quite acceptable, and efforts to remove all defects would be an excessive waste of time and money.
· The Deming Cycle (or Shewhart Cycle): As a repetitive process to determine the next action, the Deming Cycle describes a simple method to test information before making a major decision. The 4 steps in the Deming Cycle are: Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA), also known as Plan-Do-Study-Act or PDSA. The cycle can be used in various ways, such as running an experiment: PLAN (design) the experiment; DO the experiment by performing the steps; CHECK the results by testing information; and ACT on the decisions based on those results.
· Semi-Automated, not Fully Automated: Deming lamented the problem of automation gone awry ("robots painting robots"): instead, he advocated human-assisted semi-automation, which allows people to change the semi-automated or computer-assisted processes, based on new knowledge. Compare to Japanese term 'autonomation' (which can be loosely translated as "automation with a human touch").
· "What is a system? A system is a network of interdependent components that work together to try to accomplish the aim of the system. A system must have an aim. Without an aim, there is no system. The aim of the system must be clear to everyone in the system. The aim must include plans for the future. The aim is a value judgment. (We are of course talking here about a man-made system.)
· "A system must be managed. It will not manage itself. Left to themselves in the Western world, components become selfish, competitive, independent profit centres, and thus destroy the system. . . . The secret is cooperation between components toward the aim of the organization. We can not afford the destructive effect of competition.
· "To successfully respond to the myriad of changes that shake the world, transformation into a new style of management is required. The route to take is what I call profound knowledge—knowledge for leadership of transformation.
· "The worker is not the problem. The problem is at the top! Management!"
· "They realized that the gains that you get by statistical methods are gains that you get without new machinery, without new people. Anybody can produce quality if he lowers his production rate. That is not what I am talking about. Statistical thinking and statistical methods are to Japanese production workers, foremen, and all the way through the company, a second language. In statistical control, you have a reproducible product hour after hour, day after day. And see how comforting that is to management, they now know what they can produce, they know what their costs are going to be.”
· "I think that people here expect miracles. American management thinks that they can just copy from Japan—but they don't know what to copy!"
· With the best of intentions and best efforts, managing by results is, in effect, exactly the same, as driving your automobile while keeping your eye on the rear view mirror. What would happen? That's what management by results is, keeping your eye on results.”
· "Knowledge is theory. We should be thankful if action of management is based on theory. Knowledge has temporal spread. Information is not knowledge. The world is drowning in information but is slow in acquisition of knowledge. There is no substitute for knowledge."
· "Uncertainty makes research predictable, but you still need proof to satisfy everyone else."
· "The most important figures that one needs for management are unknown or unknowable, but successful management must nevertheless take account of them."
While Deming’s principles were developed for business, and specifically for manufacturing, I looked for nuggets that I might be able to apply to my life, believing that a philosophy that turned around a country’s economy in less than a decade is profoundly significant. Adaptations of his Total Quality Management principles and quotations that keep running through my mind are the
are the following:
· Build quality in what I do and avoid looking for mistakes after I’m done. By inspecting the inputs and the process more, the outputs can be better predicted, and inspected less.
· Look for ways to have pride of workmanship
· There is no substitute for knowledge, but experience by itself teaches nothing – it must be within some context.
· Aim and method are essential. A direction is essential before the process can be effective – Am I washing the table to perform surgery on it or to sort the mail?
· Managing by results is like driving with your eyes on the rear view mirror