W. Edwards Deming, a leading figure in quality management and productivity improvement, proposed a set of 14 points in his book "Out of the Crisis" as a guide to better management practices. These points, still relevant today, provide a roadmap for organizations aiming for operational excellence. In this post, we offer a compact overview of the 14 points and how organizations can put them into practice.
Understanding and Emphasizing Quality
The first three points of Deming's philosophy focus on quality. He urged leaders to create a 'constancy of purpose' for improving products and services (1), adopt a new philosophy of quality (2), and cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality – instead, improve the process and build quality into the product in the first place (3). The goal here is to foster long-term thinking and shift from a reactive approach to a proactive one where quality is embedded in every aspect of work.
Rethinking Supplier Relationships and Driving Continuous Improvement
Next, Deming emphasizes building trust and nurturing long-term relationships with fewer suppliers rather than shopping solely based on cost (4). He promotes the constant improvement of production and service systems to improve quality and productivity, thus constantly decreasing costs (5). These points encourage organizations to move beyond short-term thinking and cost-cutting, focusing instead on strategic relationships and continuous improvement.
Leadership, Training, and Employee Engagement
Deming's philosophy also underscores the importance of leadership (7) and employee engagement. Managers must lead by breaking down barriers between departments (9) and eliminating targets for the workforce (11). The emphasis is on providing necessary training (6), encouraging self-improvement for everyone (13), and driving out fear so that everyone can work more effectively (8). By doing so, employees will be better equipped to adapt to changes and feel more invested in their work.
Removing Barriers and Encouraging Pride in Workmanship
Finally, Deming advocates removing barriers that deprive people of pride in their workmanship (12), abolishing the annual or merit rating (3), and eliminating slogans, exhortations, and targets for the workforce (10). These points serve to foster an environment where employees feel respected, appreciated, and motivated to do their best.
Deming's 14 points offer a holistic approach to effective management, providing guidelines that foster a culture of quality, continuous improvement, and employee respect. By embracing these principles, organizations can achieve operational excellence and maintain sustainable growth.