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In this area, we will talk about those people who contributed so much to the Quality concepts and ideas. Without these people, it would not have been possible to be where we are today. These people have become known to the industry as ‘Quality Gurus’.

W. Edwards Deming :

William Edwards Deming was an American engineer, statistician, professor, author, lecturer, and management consultant.

Deming was initially an Electrical Engineer, but later specialized in Mathematical Physics and got awarded a doctorate in Mathematical Physics in 1928. He was also instrumental in developing the Sampling Techniques.

Deming is best known for his work in Japan after World War II, particularly his work with the leaders of Japanese industry. That work began in August 1950 at the Hakone Convention Center in Tokyo when Deming delivered a seminal speech on what he called Statistical Product Quality Administration. While in Japan, his expertise in quality control techniques, combined with his involvement in Japanese society, brought him an invitation from the Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers (JUSE). Many in Japan credit Deming as the inspiration for what has become known as the Japanese post-war economic miracle of 1950 to 1960, when Japan rose from the ashes of war to become the second most powerful economy in the world in less than a decade, founded on the ideas Deming taught. Deming's message to Japan's industries was that improving quality would reduce expenses while increasing productivity and market share. A number of Japanese manufacturers applied his techniques widely and experienced heretofore unheard-of levels of quality and productivity. The improved quality combined with the lowered cost created new international demand for Japanese products.

Deming declined to receive royalties from the transcripts of his 1950 lectures, so JUSE's board of directors established the Deming Prize (December 1950) to repay him for his friendship and kindness. The Deming Prize continues to exert considerable influence on the disciplines of quality control and quality management within Japan and all over the world. In India, from 1998 onwards, every year there are applicants for this prestigious Deming award and after a complete and detailed assessment, Deming Prize is given to the winner. To see the list of Dewing award winners in India, please visit

In 1960, Deming was awarded Japan’s Order of the Sacred Treasure, Second Class. The citation on the medal recognizes Deming's contributions to Japan's industrial rebirth and its worldwide success.

President Reagan awarded him the National Medal of Technology in 1987. The following year, the National Academy of Sciences gave Deming the Distinguished Career in Science award

Deming advocated that all managers need to have what he called a ‘System of Profound Knowledge’, consisting of four parts:

  • Appreciation of a system: understanding the overall processes involving suppliers, producers, and customers (or recipients) of goods and services
  • Knowledge of variation: the range and causes of variation in quality, and use of statistical sampling in measurements
  • Theory of knowledge: the concepts explaining knowledge and the limits of what can be known
  • Knowledge of psychology: concepts of human nature

The various segments of the system of profound knowledge proposed here cannot be separated. They interact with each other. Thus, knowledge of psychology is incomplete without knowledge of variation.

A manager of people needs to understand that all people are different. This is not ranking people. He needs to understand that the performance of anyone is governed largely by the system that he works in, the responsibility of management. A psychologist that possesses even a crude understanding of variation could no longer participate in refinement of a plan for ranking people.

The Appreciation of a system involves understanding how interactions (i.e., feedback) between the elements of a system can result in internal restrictions that force the system to behave as a single organism that automatically seeks a steady state. It is this steady state that determines the output of the system rather than the individual elements. Thus it is the structure of the organization rather than the employees, alone, which holds the key to improving the quality of output.

The Knowledge of variation involves understanding that everything measured consists of both "normal" variation due to the flexibility of the system and of "special causes" that create defects. Quality involves recognizing the difference to eliminate "special causes" while controlling normal variation. Deming taught that making changes in response to "normal" variation would only make the system perform worse. Understanding variation includes the mathematical certainty that variation will normally occur within six standard deviations of the mean.

Deming offered fourteen key principles to managers for transforming business effectiveness. The system of Profound Knowledge is the basis for this 14 points for Management. The points were first presented in his book Out of the Crisis. Although Deming does not use the term in his book, it is credited with launching Total Quality Management movement:

  1. Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service, with the aim to become competitive, to stay in business and to provide jobs.
  2. Adopt the new philosophy. We are in a new economic age. Western management must awaken to the challenge, must learn their responsibilities, and take on leadership for change.
  3. Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality. Eliminate the need for massive inspection by building quality into the product in the first place.
  4. End the practice of awarding business on the basis of a price tag. Instead, minimize total cost. Move towards a single supplier for any one item, on a long-term relationship of loyalty and trust.
  5. Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service, to improve quality and productivity, and thus constantly decrease costs.
  6. Institute training on the job.
  7. Institute leadership. The aim of supervision should be to help people and machines and gadgets do a better job. Supervision of management is in need of overhaul, as well as supervision of production workers.
  8. Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company.
  9. Break down barriers between departments. People in research, design, sales, and production must work as a team, in order to foresee problems of production and usage that may be encountered with the product or service.
  10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the work force asking for zero defects and new levels of productivity. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships, as the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the system and thus lie beyond the power of the work force.
    a) Eliminate work standards (quotas) on the factory floor. Substitute with leadership.
    b) Eliminate management by objective. Eliminate management by numbers and numerical goals. Instead substitute with leadership.
  11. Remove barriers that rob the hourly worker of his right to pride of workmanship. The responsibility of supervisors must be changed from sheer numbers to quality.
  12. Remove barriers that rob people in management and in engineering of their right to pride of workmanship. This means, inter alia, abolishment of the annual or merit rating and of management by objectives
  13. Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement.
  14. Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everybody's job.

Deming talks about the "Seven Deadly Diseases" which he claims are certain bad practices of Western Management. These include:

  • Lack of constancy of purpose
  • Emphasis on short-term profits
  • Evaluation by performance, merit rating, or annual review of performance
  • Mobility of management
  • Running a company on visible figures alone
  • Excessive medical costs
  • Excessive costs of warranty, fueled by lawyers who work for contingency fees