W. Edwards Deming
Quotations


The worker is not the problem. The problem is at the top! Management!

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!

Defects are not free. Somebody makes them, and gets paid for making them.

Part of America's industrial problems is the aim of its corporate managers. Most American executives think they are in the business to make money, rather than products or service. The Japanese corporate credo, on the other hand, is that a company should become the world's most efficient provider of whatever product and service it offers. Once it becomes the world leader and continues to offer good products, profits follow.

The supposition is prevalent the world over that there would be no problems in production or service if only our production workers would do their jobs in the way that they we taught. Pleasant dreams. The workers are handicapped by the system, and the system belongs to the management.

We cannot rely on mass inspection to improve quality, though there are times when 100 percent inspection is necessary. As Harold S. Dodge said many years ago, “You cannot inspect quality into a product.” The quality is there or it isn't by the time it's inspected.

Foremost is the principle that the purpose of consumer research is to understand the customer's needs and wishes, and thus design product and service that will provide better living for him in the future. A second principle is that no one can guess the future loss of business from a dissatisfied customer.

The prevailing style of management must undergo transformation. A system cannot understand itself. The transformation requires a view from outside. The first step is transformation of the individual. This transformation is discontinuous. It comes from understanding of the system of profound knowledge. The individual, transformed, will perceive new meaning to his life, to events, to numbers, to interactions between people. Once the individual understands the system of profound knowledge, he will apply its principles in every kind of relationship with other people. He will have a basis for judgment of his own decisions and for transformation of the organizations that he belongs to.

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.

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.)

It is important that an aim never be defined in terms of a specific activity or method. It must always relate to a better life for everyone.

Choice of aim is clearly a matter of clarification of values, especially on the choice between possible options.

A system must be managed. It will not manage itself. Left to themselves in the Western world, components become selfish, competitive. We cannot 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.

It is management’s job to direct the efforts of all components toward the aim of the system. The first step is clarification: everyone in the organization must understand the aim of the system, and how to direct his efforts toward it. Everyone must understand the damage and loss to the whole organization from a team that seeks to become a selfish, independent, profit center.

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.

Experience by itself teaches nothing. Without theory, experience has no meaning. Without theory, one has no questions to ask. Hence without theory there is no learning.



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