The Deming Way
by Richard S. Russell
In 1945, Gen. Douglas MacArthur was appointed regent over conquered Japan, a nation prostrated, exhausted, and largely destroyed by WW2, a huge chunk of its potential work force dead. One of his tasks was to rebuild industry. Today, in 2011, Japan has the world’s 3rd largest economy. What did MacArthur do right?
He relied on W. Edwards Deming, an American expert on business management, whose ideas had been deemed too radical for use in the United States. Deming strongly believed that quality led to long-term success. Considering how attitudes toward the phrase “Made in Japan” changed between 1950 and the present, he was clearly on to something.
But how to improve quality? Deming pointed out that it’s close to impossible to double your quality in one giant 100% leap. Instead, he said, you do it gradually, in a hundred tiny 1% increments.
And where do you get your best ideas for improving quality? Not from the CEOs or stockholders or lawyers or bankers or marketers; not even from efficiency experts like Deming himself. You get them from the 2 groups of people who are up to their elbows in the details: (1) your customers and (2) your workers.
Listening to your workers: It’s a great idea — from the management perspective!
You listening, Scott?
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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.
-- Dr. W. Edwards Deming, Out of the Crisis