Building The Machine: Why Deming was so wrong for American business

Posted by overmanwarrior 6 years, 4 months ago to Business
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I have looked, but not seen anything from Ayn Rand about Deming. I would think that she would not care for him. What do you guys think?
SOURCE URL: http://overmanwarrior.wordpress.com/2014/07/08/building-the-machine-why-deming-was-so-wrong-for-american-business/


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    Posted by RikNilsson 6 years, 4 months ago
    I once attended a Deming lecture at HP in Cupertino, CA. Over an hour, he filled the board in front of a grand corporate auditorium with ‘quality control’ calculations. In the last five minutes he admitted that it all could be reduced to a simple equation relating cost of replacement/repair of a defective unit at any given point in a manufacturing process. It was to point out that it is too easy to make something complicated that is really very simple, and what made HP computers and Volkswagon America’s cars so reliable: if you don’t let garbage in, you won’t put garbage out. In reality, that applies to human resources as well as materials, something corporate and public America never really embraced in full.
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    • Posted by $ blarman 6 years, 4 months ago
      Having worked at HP for seven years, I can tell you right now that this quality mentality was thrown out the window many years ago. Where HP was once the gold standard for equipment (especially testing meters and hard drives), they are now no more than another personal electronics manufacturer.
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      • Posted by RikNilsson 6 years, 4 months ago
        HP hosted Deming. That doesn't mean they implemented what it took him his whole life to discover. My last sentence stands, for HP too.
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        • Posted by $ blarman 6 years, 4 months ago
          Completely agree. Once Hewlett and Packard no longer ran the company, things began going downhill. It really accelerated under Fiorina (I worked there during her disastrous tenure).
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          • Posted by IndianaGary 6 years, 4 months ago
            This speaks to exceptionalism; as HP was never the same without Hewlett and Packard, Microsoft was never the same after Gates, and Apple not the same after Jobs. While these companies are still "alive" in one sense, they are declining rapidly because of the lack of vision now that their founders are gone. What is the motor without Galt? Nothing but wires and metal rusting in an abandoned factory. [Edit: phraseology and spelling]
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            • Posted by dbhalling 6 years, 4 months ago
              WHile quality cannot be ignored it is inventions that move the world forward HPs key to success was to set engineers free to invent, not quality. A perfect Model A would have zero sales today.
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              • Posted by $ blarman 6 years, 4 months ago
                Just to give you an idea, but I worked for HP for seven years and my father for 22+. Some perspective:

                Time to market for arguably HP's most successful printer (the HP LaserJet II) was more than five years. The reason: they wanted a product that was rock-solid. The follow-on lines for the IIP, III, and IV saw similar development times and similar marketplace success. Their performance and quality have been unmatched since.

                Now, the typical ttm for a low-end printer is 8-12 months. Granted, they are using a common code base and prototyping is much faster, but I can speak personally about the quality of the engineers and the rigors of testing and they do not compare favorably with what they once were because of cost- and time-constraints (and a change in the market to disposable electronics).

                Go back further to when HP made disk drives. They used to have such a high standard of quality that they offered an unprecedented FIVE-year warranty. I was a summer intern there when they were building those things and the people on those lines took great personal pride in doing things right. It didn't hurt that they were incentivized by quarterly profit-sharing down to even the janitors! When HP folded up that division (my dad was right in the middle of it if you want the story), you saw the average warranty drop to a single year and the overall industry took a dive in quality they never recovered from.

                Go back even further to HP's vaunted calculators: the must-have for every engineering student. My dad still has a VERY old one that does RPM (reverse-Polish notation) and it still works like a charm 30 years later.

                I would argue that having an invention is important, but true market value comes in providing a product that customers can rely on day-in and day-out.
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                • Posted by $ jbrenner 6 years, 4 months ago
                  The HP calculators were indestructible. One of the greatest inventions ever.
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                  • Posted by dbhalling 6 years, 4 months ago
                    My HP 45 or something recently gave out. I learned to love RPN in engineering school (by grad school numbers were irrelevant). I have bought a couple of HP calculators since then assuming they were RPN and been disappointed.

                    But "she who must not be named" K, wants me to tell the story of how a crow tried to steal my HP45?? calculator one summer on the way home from taking circuit theory I. I was walking down the beautiful tree lined streets of Manhattan KS (Home of the K-state Wildcats) deep in thought about Kirchhoff's Laws when a crow jumps in front of me maybe 15 feet and caws at me. I think it is just a stupid bird so I keep walking, but the crow becomes belligerent, not will to give its ground and flies at me. I turn my head and duck and my (relatively new) HP calculator falls on the cement sidewalk as I back away. I am stunned as the crow lands on the sidewalk and picks up the calculator by a loop in the case and tries to fly away. I can't afford to lose my calculator so I run at the bird waving my hands and shouting. The crow got the calculator 3-4 feet off the ground before I startled it. I picked up the calculator happy to find it still worked and determined to defend it from all birds, bitches, or other vermin.
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                    • Posted by Robbie53024 6 years, 4 months ago
                      The HP 15c was the basic engineering calculator. Still have mine from college - it's nearly 35 yrs old and still going strong, although doesn't get much use since most of my work is better done in Excel or Minitab.
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              • Posted by Robbie53024 6 years, 4 months ago
                Ah, but flawed quality can kill a product and even a company just as surely. The key is to have both (or actually all three - quality, cost, and innovation; it used to be the joke that you can have any two at one time, but not all three - there have been a few that have for a brief moment, HP, GE, Moto, etc. but even those lose it quickly).
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                • Posted by $ blarman 6 years, 4 months ago
                  Apple's iPod and iPhone are examples of simultaneous innovation AND quality in a single product. Contrast this with Windows 8 - innovation without quality (as judged by user criticism of interface).
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                  • Posted by $ jbrenner 6 years, 4 months ago
                    Windows 8 is almost as bad as the Obama administration. Whenever Microsoft comes out with an "upgrade", it is a downgrade. Anyone remember Office 2007? My Office 97 will run light years faster than anything any of you have.
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                    • Posted by Robbie53024 6 years, 4 months ago
                      I'm still on Office 2003. That was the pinnacle of the suite as far as I'm concerned. I hate that stupid ribbon bar that started in 2007, and there's not been anything (except for the added lines in Excel, that has been needed on occasion, so I do have the most recent version of Excel loaded just for those instances) added since then that I find necessary. And yes, I often have colleagues or clients who are using newer versions and marvel that my applications open and function faster than theirs.
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                      • Posted by $ blarman 6 years, 4 months ago
                        I am completely with you there. I wish that Microsoft would give users the option to configure the tool for use in the way that makes sense to them - and not just the "Microsoft" way. I hate the ribbon - it is neither intuitive nor user-friendly to me because I waste a lot of time switching back and forth between tabs trying to find things. And it takes up a LOT of screen real estate I'd rather use for content. In the older versions, I could just create a custom toolbar that had quick buttons for everything I used and needed. Now, though I can create such, it is such a pain to create and use that I don't bother.

                        Another example of the manufacturer attempting to dictate form and function that actually decreases utility and thus decreases value and quality (in my opinion).
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                  • Posted by Robbie53024 6 years, 4 months ago
                    Not sure that I would count Win8 as poor quality. By all accounts, it works as designed. It's just that folks aren't good with that design. And I'll point out the Apple iPhone battery problems when it was launched. Poor quality there.
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                    • Posted by $ stargeezer 6 years, 4 months ago
                      I'd say as a daily user of both Win 7pro (on multiple computers) and Win 8.1 (on one system) that the question with 8.1 is more about hardware, not utility. I'm running Win 8.1 on a system with both a touch screen (23") monitor and a separate keyboard and a wireless mouse for those times when it's absolutely needed - and there are those times.

                      Of course Win 7pro is just great and has been since I built those computers.

                      So why am I in the camp that likes Win 8.1? "Application". That computer is mounted beside my bed with the monitor hung from a large swing arm so that I can position for use when I'm bedfast and can't sit in my wheelchair at my desk or in my media room or in my studio. In all those places where I'm using a computer with win 7, each has a monitor with a conventional VGA Monitor. As time passes and these computers are replaced and/or upgraded, I plan to equip each with a touch screen and upgrade the monitor to a touch screen monitor.

                      The price on these were prohibitly expensive in the past. but today they are available under $300, for a monitor that's been flawless for a year. Will they replace the monitor on a gaming machine? No, but the problem is the need for a keyboard, not the use of the monitor.

                      Running Win 8 or 8.1 on a system with a conventional monitor is a exercise in frustration, at best. I found running the computer in this configuration not at all enjoyable. There are menus that are awkward with just a mouse. It seems like you need two mouses (or mice?) and the on-screen keyboard will pop up when you least expect it and like the mouse, the built-in keyboard carries a couple functions that you'll like on a touch-screen, but is a pain with a regular monitor.

                      The point it, Win 8.1 is designed for a touch screen monitor. Useing it any other way strips it of it's power.
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                      • Posted by Robbie53024 6 years, 4 months ago
                        Correct. Nor would I want to use a touch screen for most work applications (at least not the type of work that I'm doing). I agree it's good for that application, just not for all.
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                    • Posted by $ blarman 6 years, 4 months ago
                      In my book, quality is measured by utility to the consumer. It doesn't matter whether lack of function is by design or by design flaw - a lack of utility is still a deficiency in value to the consumer and therefore a quality concern. Quality deals with expectations and how well one meets expectations - as you pointed out before.

                      And I acknowledge the battery problems with the iPhone with the note of how quickly they got it fixed.
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                      • Posted by Robbie53024 6 years, 4 months ago
                        Yet, my daughter went through 3 iTouch's before the battery problem was fixed (entailing 5 trips to the Apple Store which is about 20 miles away).

                        As for quality being a lack of function, that depends. Perhaps the customers should not have opted to "upgrade." I haven't and won't for as long as possible for my laptop. I have a tablet that I only use for reading and movies that has Win8. It's fine for that, but I'd never use it for a basic desktop interface. Win7 is great - stable and pretty good security. Just because something exists, doesn't mean that it is right for every customer. Same thing for my iPhone. I'm still on 4S. I have too much invested in the technology and the 5 offers too little added benefit for the costs. So, the customer has to evaluate the added utility and decide whether it is right for them. Buying something and then complaining that it isn't what you wanted isn't a problem with the manuf or prod but rather with the customer choosing the right product.
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                        • Posted by $ blarman 6 years, 4 months ago
                          Actually, I would argue that customer feedback - whether positive or negative - is absolutely critical to the development of a quality product. It should also be noted that we are talking in terms of a very specific industry that is mostly monopolized, so things are a little skewed and don't necessarily represent a true market.

                          The feedback about a product to me is just as sure a measurement of quality as the number of defects per 1000 units. Both are measures of how well the unit performed to expectations are they not? One is an internal measure, the other external. As such, I would argue that both are entirely valid measurements of quality. The external ones just also reflect not only the quality of the product, but of the marketing. ;)
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                          • Posted by Robbie53024 6 years, 4 months ago
                            Correct. You merely need to identify which part of the business you are measuring quality. In your example, it would be marketing not R&D. If the product functions as the requirements specified, but he requirements were not what the marketplace actually needed, then it is a marketing failure, not R&D. But R&D always gets the blame since they are the ones who actually transform the requirements into a product.

                            This has probably gotten to esoteric for this board.
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          • Posted by $ jbrenner 6 years, 4 months ago
            RikNilsson and blarman, did you hear that Agilent (the successor to HP) is splitting in two? I save up a year's worth of news items to read and get to them this week of the summer, but I noticed that in what I read just this AM.
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            • Posted by $ blarman 6 years, 4 months ago
              Hadn't heard that. Would like to hear more details, though.

              For those not familiar, Agilent was the divestiture where HP's medical devices and measuring instruments were tasked. HP (or HP Invent as Carly put it) held on to the more consumer electronics end: printers, PC's, servers, storage (after that worthless merger with Compaq), etc.
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              • Posted by $ jbrenner 6 years, 4 months ago
                http://cen.acs.org/articles/92/i2/Instru...

                "A substantial portion of growth in Agilent Technologies’ life sciences and diagnostics business came from the Dako diagnostics business it acquired in mid-2012. And Agilent continues to be excited about diagnostics and pharmaceuticals markets, as well as food and energy, CEO William P. Sullivan recently told analysts.

                After growing through acquisition, Agilent is poised to get smaller again with a split in two planned for later this year. Keeping the Agilent name, one company will have the better-performing life sciences, diagnostics, and applied markets businesses. The other piece, to be called Keysight Technologies, will be made of Agilent’s electronic measurement business. It saw revenues decline in 2013, although it should see a boost from economic growth anticipated in the second half of 2014, Sullivan said."

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                • Posted by $ blarman 6 years, 4 months ago
                  Thanks for the detail. I'll have to keep an eye on them.

                  I will say this: they certainly couldn't have done better by keeping the HP management philosophies pushed by Lou Platt, Carly Fiorina, or that schmuck who replaced her...
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                  • Posted by $ jbrenner 6 years, 4 months ago
                    I'm glad that I have people like you and khalling to teach me about people like Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman. I had this sterling image of Meg Whitman, because EBay is probably my favorite company.
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                    • Posted by $ blarman 6 years, 4 months ago
                      Carly was a joke. She ascended through the ranks of Lucent, became their CEO, then bailed out just as they were taking a nose-dive because of her asanine policies. Because of her cozy relationship with then HP CEO Lou Platt, he recommended her for the CEO post at HP which she got. She did nothing for the company except gut the R&D departments (Hewlett & Packard mandated R&D spending at 12% of gross revenue - Carly cut it to 2%), roll out a new marketing slogan (HP Invent), change the logos, and literally bullied banks into narrowly approving the Compaq merger - off which she alone made $30 million.for her political warchest. She was an absolute joke as a CEO.
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                      • Posted by $ jbrenner 6 years, 4 months ago
                        At the time Carly Fiorina cut back on R&D, almost every company was cutting back on R&D. As someone in R&D, it was tough finding jobs.
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                        • Posted by $ blarman 6 years, 4 months ago
                          Perhaps, but for a company that made its living and established its brand based on bleeding-edge research and teaming with university scholars, this was essentially gutting their major core competency and strategic advantage. As an MBA, this was a mistake of epic proportions perpetrated by someone who had a complete lack of fundamental understanding of her business - an absolutely unforgivable sin in a CEO.
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                        • Posted by dbhalling 6 years, 4 months ago
                          The reason for this cut in R&D is that our accounting systems show no return on inventions only costs. It is one of the great failings of accounting. Very few companies make money on manufacturing, they make money based on inventions. The return for manufacturing is only that part which is better than the average manufacturer, the rest is do to invention.
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                          • Posted by $ blarman 6 years, 4 months ago
                            If that is the case, those are lousy accountants. HP always tracked project costs using the entire lifecycle from initial startup and R&D through production to support and fulfillment - a process that would go for ten years or so after the product stopped being manufactured. If the accounting for any manufacturing firm isn't handling things the same way, they are getting very distorted costs and returns on their product lines.

                            One also assumes that the manufacturing line is also a static beast with no room for innovation. The manufacturing company I worked for for a time abjured such a closed mindset and actually developed and patented a new production technique for its niche business based on re-engineering their internal manufacturing processes. They weren't inventing a new product for sale as much as simply innovating the way they built their products, but I know they saved a lot of money in scrap and waste and time by using the customized process. Those weren't product-generated profits, but manufacturing-originated cost savings that equated to profits by lowering the variable (and fixed) costs of production. I can't help but think that part of Hank Reardon's genius wasn't JUST the invention of Reardon metal, but the processes by which he manufactured it. Dagny Taggart was constantly manipulating her rail lines so as to keep things running - a "manufacturing"-based effort at efficiency but certainly not an invention.
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                          • Posted by Robbie53024 6 years, 4 months ago
                            Better companies track their return on innovation. Depending on the industry they look at the amount of revenue from recently introduced product (the length of "recent" depending on the industry/product) as a proportion of the overall revenue. They also look at profit level using the same discriminators.

                            However, I disagree that companies don't make money on manufacturing. That has been my work for the past 15+ years. Finding ways to improve efficiency and throughput so as to be the lowest cost producer. When you produce at a lower cost than your competition, you make money from manufacturing. It is a never ending quest, as competition is fierce and relentless and incremental improvements do not last long. Which is good for me, as it has tended to keep me in business.
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                        • Posted by $ blarman 6 years, 4 months ago
                          I just found this interesting tidbit:
                          http://www.businessweek.com/articles/201...

                          Basically the contention is that investors are growing increasingly short-term focused. If the investors are focused on the short-term, that pressures upper management (usually focused on short-term goals for bonuses) to follow suit.
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                          • Posted by $ jbrenner 6 years, 4 months ago
                            The consequence of this short term view for me when I was in the oil business was that finding the oil was profitable, and refining it into a usable product was divorced from finding the oil. This made oil refining a breakeven business in bad years and only an 8-9% ROI business in good years. Consequently anyone associated with refining was deemed expendable ... like me.
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                        • Posted by Robbie53024 6 years, 4 months ago
                          Correct. Laid off from two different companies in the course of 3 years. The thinking was, you aren't making product so we don't need you.
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  • Posted by $ jbrenner 6 years, 4 months ago
    Deming's statistical quality control concepts do make a lot of sense if one's goals are to improve on an existing product or process, particularly with regard to minimizing errors and cost. HOWEVER, companies that employ Deming's approach often get leapfrogged by competition that can think outside the box!
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    • Posted by thepilot65 6 years, 4 months ago
      Deming's model doesn't apply to all types of industry. It was applied to Home Depot and failed. 3M also had some issue (as I recall) because it is NOT for creativity. Like any science, his statistical means of creating better quality products is not a cure all. It is specifically for quality issues (and certainly not all). Perhaps how his theory has been applied by those who should know better is the issue here.
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      • Posted by woodlema 6 years, 4 months ago
        Please do not confuse Quality for Creativity. They are not the same thing, and they are not two sides of the same coin. They are very complimentary of each other if used properly.
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        • Posted by Robbie53024 6 years, 4 months ago
          You are so right. That said, statistical methods can be applied in the creative realm - it's called Design for Six Sigma. Unlike the problem solving type of six sigma, DfSS focuses on proactively identifying possible problems and designing them out, or designing around them.
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  • Posted by rbunce 6 years, 4 months ago
    Government regulation of the economy for the "greater good" has done far more harm than businesses voluntarily adapting Deming's ideas.
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  • Posted by $ TomB666 6 years, 4 months ago
    Implementing Deming's ideas is hard work. I was part of DOD when the Secretary of Defense thought it was a good idea and 'ordered' DOD to implement it. That is not how it works. Leaders have to do it. They can not order it to happen.

    Companies such as Toyota move ahead while others such as GM fall into bankruptcy. Toyota did implement Deming's TQM ideas while GM paid lip service to it.

    Nothing I saw in my study of TQM would have inhibited innovation. There are examples of where it encouraged it. As with many great ideas, the failure is in the implementation.

    Deming is wrong for American business so long as business leaders are part of the 'old boys network' rather then being actually competent in their field of work. Sam Walton built a company that just about put Sears, K Mart, etc. out of business. Walton was his own man while Sears, etc are managed by 'professional' good old boys who can not stand the competition from anyone who thinks.


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    • Posted by $ blarman 6 years, 4 months ago
      I have to wonder when they gave up on it then. According to recalls, prior to the GM starter fiasco Toyota was head and shoulders above all other manufacturers in product recalls for vehicles since the early 90's. Maybe that corresponds to when Japan's economy began to stagnate. An interesting theory.
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      • Posted by Robbie53024 6 years, 4 months ago
        The American management of Toyota has faltered. Most of the problems have been with the NA manuf products. That said, there have been issues with Japanese designs as well. As was pointed out, not every company maintains this capability forever (HP once was a pinnacle of quality and innovation at the same time, then they lost both).
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      • Posted by $ TomB666 6 years, 4 months ago
        Thanks for reminding me of all those Toyota recalls. I studied TQM rather intently in the 1980's, but let it slip to the back of my mind since then. I have become convinced that corporate problems are leadership problems, no matter what 'system' is supposed to be in use.
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        • Posted by $ blarman 6 years, 4 months ago
          I absolutely agree. What upper management chooses to focus on becomes the de facto measuring stick for everyone else. That's why having good leadership that recognizes and focuses on the the critical aspects of their particular business within their particular industry will make or break a business in the long run. It's also the reason why so many companies succeed for a while and then crumble and fall.
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  • Posted by woodlema 6 years, 4 months ago
    Deming's 7 Deadly Diseases:

    The Seven Deadly Diseases can be summarized as:

    1. Lack of constancy of purpose to plan products and services.
    2. Emphasis on short-term profits.
    3. Personal review systems for managers and management by objectives.
    4. Job hopping by managers.
    5. Using only visible data in decision making.
    6. Excessive medial costs.
    7. Excessive costs of liability driven up by lawyers that work on contingency.

    Read more: http://www.referenceforbusiness.com/mana...
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    • Posted by khalling 6 years, 4 months ago
      I think point 5 is particularly important. Modern accounting systems do not attach R&D costs to products. Because of that, investment in invention is difficult to to objectively determine risk/reward. As well, the more the manager is removed from R&D, the less innovation you will see the larger the corporate structure
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  • Posted by servant74 6 years, 4 months ago
    Deming is basically a continuous improvement cycle. For continuous processes, especially those that have not been in place for a long time, it can show significant improvement. Most processes get incremental improvement over time if participants care without a formal process.

    The cycles get leapfrogged whenever there is revolutionary rather than evolutionary development. Revolution comes from out of the box, or foundationally re-thinking the how's and why's of the process.

    Not all improvement processes are reasonable for every situation.

    ALL process can use re-thinking. Staying with the status-quo if there isn't a reason to change is an appropriate answer (reduces risk and cost of change) but staying with the status-quo just because of being afraid of change is not a solution for fixing processes or procedures either.

    I have yet to find a process that can't be improved, but not all processes show the amount of improvement that will pay for the change cycle effort.

    Typically I find evolutionary change to result in 1 to 3% improvements, but revolutionary changes are typically disruptive and require 10 to 500+% improvement to be worth the effort.
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  • Posted by thepilot65 6 years, 4 months ago
    I've worked in manufacturing and mechanical engineering for over 25 years and his statistical methods to improve quality and increase profit seem to be the kind of science that Ayn Rand champions. I don't know enough about any other aspect of Deming's life or political opinions to offer any criticism.
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  • Posted by John_Emerson 6 years, 4 months ago
    Deming got some things wrong, and a lot of things right. He was extremely intelligent. I think Ms. Rand would have enjoyed some spirited discussions with him. In some areas, probably many, they would have agreed. In others they would have politely agreed to disagree. I seriously doubt there would have been much, if any, animosity.
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    • Posted by Robbie53024 6 years, 4 months ago
      What do you think Deming got wrong? Please elaborate.
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      • Posted by John_Emerson 6 years, 4 months ago
        I can't claim to be an expert on Deming, but he was not a god. I think the biggest problem with the CI program where I used to work was that many managers treated it as a religion: whatever Deming said was a commandment. To question its applicability to a particular situation was blasphemy. Others treated it as just the latest upper-management fad: pay lip-service to it but don't really change anything because it'll blow over in a few months anyhow. It was a very dysfunctional company.
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        • Posted by Robbie53024 6 years, 4 months ago
          As are many. If applied properly, Deming's approach works wonders to bring a system into conformance and eventually to excellence. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of hard work. In companies where mgrs are promoted/laterally moved every 18 mo's this isn't enough time to really implement the fundamental type change required. The mgr either wants to make a big splash or just wants to ride things out. Either way, they are not willing to invest as is required for fundamental change. Deming taught the Japanese how to be patient and relentless in their drive for improvement. They were good students.

          Ironically, the Koreans may be even better students. Dr. Deming never taught the Koreans directly, but they read his books and have internalized his teaching. Companies like Hyundai and Kia are starting to eat even Toyota's lunch. The Koreans are who the Japanese are worried about - not America, not Europe, not China (at least not yet - heaven help us if the Chinese learn Deming's methods).
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      • Posted by servant74 6 years, 4 months ago
        Personally I think Demming to a lot right, but the wrong thing is to do it relentlessly and get significant improvement ALL the time. That is how managers where I worked were being bonused. The standard wound up being layoffs round after round rather than fixing what needs to be done. The standard became CYOA rather than getting the work done. Such is what was wrong with the uncontrolled rounds of 'continuous improvement' without thinking.
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        • Posted by Robbie53024 6 years, 4 months ago
          That is an ignorant method of continuous improvement. It has nothing to do with the CI process and all to do with the ignoramuses who are managing the business. (or actually mis-managing it)
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  • Posted by $ LibertyPhysics 6 years, 4 months ago
    Deming was a statistician for Bell Labs. He advocated looking at manufacturing problems statistically and championed what we now call process control. The goal was to produce as few out of spec parts as possible.

    That has NOTHING to do with thinking in or out of a box. It has nothing to do with radical innovation or invention. It has nothing to do with politics or epistemology except to advocate that our decisions be driven by data rather than intuition.

    And what this all has to do with Common Core really escapes me.

    To go right to the point, this sentence is absurd on many levels: "Deming is the man responsible for all the ridiculous attempts at Total Quality Management which has tied the hands of American business by putting engineers essentially in charge of the management of company resources so to hamper proper productivity." That could only be written by someone who never worked in manufacturing and who is unqualified to have any opinion whatsoever on the subject.

    What does that sentence even mean? Industrial engineers have always been put in charge of company resources. Management teams have always included engineers or those with engineering backgrounds. Would it be better if they were all lawyers or salesmen? And since productivity has been steadily increasing (at least until the last few years) I don't see any basis for claiming that modern manufacturing methods have hampered anything.

    An automobile is an extreme example. But when you have thousands and thousand of parts that have to come together properly for the final product to work, how do you suppose you do that? It is an amazing feat of modern industrial engineering that makes that possible. Deming's teachings are among the tools that engineers and managers use to make our panoply of products possible at an affordable price. Before Deming, many products had to be repaired at the end of the manufacturing line to replace defective parts or parts that didn't properly mate with other parts.

    Yes, our country became an industrial giant without Deming. We did it without computers too. Does that make the computer an unnecessary tool? The fault of modern management is not Deming. It is, if anything, the notion that management is a general skill and doesn't have to be tied to a particular industry, that the guy who ran the phone company can just as easily run the chemical plant or the auto manufacturer. We have come to learn that industry specific experience should not be discounted.

    But, please, to mark Deming as some kind of a Satan is simple minded. His work wouldn't be popular among those who are desperate to make a buck if it didn't help in some way.
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    • Posted by 6 years, 4 months ago
      Interesting observation. I wrote that sentence and have been in manufacturing for over thirty years, at every level, from the ground up to the top management. My thoughts on Deming come from those experiences. And the application to common core is that politicians are trying the same statistical comparisons to produce children with zero defects. But to whose sence of quality? The customer, who in this case is the government.

      Seriously can you see Howard Roark going through an MPR roster? Or John Galt working with a Value Stream Manger to mass produce his engine?
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  • Posted by woodlema 6 years, 4 months ago
    There is a balance that MUST be reached. The companies that get leapfrogged are the same ones that in the end are around long after the "Out of the Box" thinkers have gone the way of the Dodo.

    Let me say first that THERE S NO BOX!!!, Just think and solve the problem.

    Deming provided a framework to identify and fix quality issues. Look at GM and the many, many millions of recalls. Had they applied even a fraction of Deming's quality control they would not be losing billions, along with customer loyalty.

    The entire concept that providing a solid framework to identify quality issues prevents innovation, and keeps companies from progressing rapidly and "keeping up" is a fallacy.

    Deming was asked by a reporter, "Is experience important?" Deming's reply. "Not if you're doing it wrong."

    I have spent several years inside General Electric, who use Six Sigma and Deming's framework almost to a fault. I my opinion they take this to an extreme, and yes in my opinion they do not necessarily move as quickly as they could, but take away the quality control framework, and you would be looking at a behemoth corporate conglomerate that would cave in on itself from recalls and faulty products.

    Take away all quality control and replace it with "Agile" Ad-Hoc BS, and you would still not be able to move quickly simply due to the enormity of the company.

    The Rule of 7's.
    1.Cause and effect diagram (fishbone, Ishikawa) - creative way to look at possible problem causes.
    2.Control charts - shows how a process behaves over time; plots results against control limits (usually +/- 3 sigma). Data within limits indicate the process is in control, but watch for rule of 7: 7 consecutive results on one side of the mean could indicate a problem. X bar is the average of a series of measurements; R is the difference between the highest and lowest values for a period, R bar is the average of all the R values.

    Sigma: Another name for standard deviation; indicates how much of the curve is within control limits. 1 sigma = 68.26%, 2 sigma = 95.46%, 3 sigma = 99.73%, 6 sigma = 99.99985%.

    If you strive for 6 Sigma, imagine GM again.

    It's only May, but automakers have recalled 22.3 million vehicles in the United States. That's already more than last year — and it's on pace to shatter the previous record set in 2000: (http://www.vox.com/2014/5/21/5738204/rec...)

    GM sold since 1998 61,475,860 cars. They have recalled 22.3 million. where is that on the Six Sigma quality chart? Not even 1 Sigma. How much did that Cost GM? How much is that going to cost GM?

    Ayn Rand is a proponent of and please remember this "RATIONAL SELF INTEREST." Self interest is in producing a product that provide value for the monetary or "consideration" provided. Ayn Rand I believe would say oh well, the market just took out another bad company who did not apply Rational Self Interest" properly. Rational Self interest is providing a product that is not going to blow up in your face causing your customer base to leave you and/or sue you out of business. I am waiting for another Government bailout of GM at our expense that Ayn Rand would certainly oppose with every fiber of her being.

    She would say Let GM die.
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    • Posted by BambiB 6 years, 4 months ago
      Quite often in a company the size of GE or GM, the problem is that management has no concept of how their products are being built, nor the potential impact of defects. The people you find atop organizations of that size are masters of the art of "schmooze" and are frequently technology-stupid. The problems arise when defects are so glaring that they cannot be smoothed over with blather and have gone so far that millions of replications of the same defect are in the market.

      Note that this applies to government.

      Both are applications of the cesspool principle: The big chunks float to the top.
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      • Posted by Robbie53024 6 years, 4 months ago
        I totally disagree. Back in the Welch days, he knew manuf processes and was directly involved in major projects. Data was brought to him and he intelligently queried the experts about the data. Too many companies are run by "MBA's" (and I have one) that have no concept of manufacturing, quality, or product development. They come from finance or sales/marketing.
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        • Posted by BambiB 6 years, 4 months ago
          Sorry, but if that was true of Neutron Jack, it certainly wasn't true at the business unit level. At GE Robotics and Vision Systems Department, the top-level goals shifted frequently - and without any apparent plan. In a 1-month stint, we went from selling robot systems to selling robots BACK to selling systems. There wasn't a robot application that management didn't want to cover - so we had robots ranging from precision, small-envelope assembly robots, to mid-size assembly/process/pick-and-place, to beefy robots for slinging weights up to 132 pounds at the tool point. We even had a hydraulic spray painting robot. GE didn't make any of it. The robots were from Volkswagen, Nachi, Hitachi, Allegro and one other company I don't presently recall. We shipped money with every order. It was management's way of "buying into the market". And yes, the sales guys were out selling "Weld-Vision" when it was little more than an engineering dream. Two years later when they were shutting down GE-RVSD, Weld-Vision still didn't exist, and the customers who had ordered it were still waiting.

          I learned a lot about robots and vision systems, and almost as much about how NOT to run a company.
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      • Posted by IndianaGary 6 years, 4 months ago
        Don't forget that these companies are in bed with government and their pictures on in the dictionary under the term "crapitalism" (crony capitalism)
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        • Posted by Robbie53024 6 years, 4 months ago
          Not true. The Japanese system is different - it is not western capitalism, but don't confuse it for cronyism either. It is a very close relationship, nearly symbiotic. But all parties understand their position and relationship. Nobody is looking to gain an "unfair" advantage.
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          • Posted by BambiB 6 years, 4 months ago
            One example of the "forced cooperation" in the Japanese system is their patent system. Their patents are often referred to as "sushi" patents for the thin slice of difference between an existing patent and the new patent application. One source opined that if there were a patent for a bicycle, it might easily be followed by a patent from a competitor for a "bicycle with red pedals". In one case I recall, a company patented a bulb for a copying machine. Competitors ordered some of the bulbs, had them shipped to their R&D department, made small, largely cosmetic, changes (one change was a small bulge in the otherwise cylindrical lamp) and filed for patents.

            So what's the point of this system? The idea is to prevent the original patent holder from using their invention unless they are also willing to license its use. In effect, the initial patent is good for extracting a fee - but not for preventing competition. One of the more bizarre patent cases involves the Kilby patent for integrated circuits. IIRC, it took the Japanese patent office nearly 30 years to issue the patent!
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    • Posted by Robbie53024 6 years, 4 months ago
      1) You are correct, there is no box, but there are predilections on how people address problems. As a mech eng, I tend to look at a mech apparatus to solve a problem. It has taken years of working with electronics, magnetics, optics, etc. to broaden my perspectives.
      2) My current employer was part of the original group at Moto. When they took ss to GE, the military type org there ate it up and implemented it without understanding where it is applicable and where it isn't. Luckily, it is more applicable than not, so they err on the good side.
      3) The values you cite for being within the sigma levels should be (+/-), just to be precise.
      4) The value you show for 6 sigma actually includes the mythical 1.5 sigma shift (which is a fallacy, by the way). The actual value for +/- 6 sigma is 0.999999998027
      5) When looking at the GM recalls, there are many reasons for conducting a recall, not all of which are directly quality related. Even those that are driven by quality are often larger than absolutely necessary. That said, they clearly have had issues (not surprising from my previous interaction with them).
      6) AR would not have batted an eyelash at the demise of GM, as you say, and would decry the moocher bailouts.
      7) This entire discussion started with Dr. Deming. From what he wanted to do, I liken him to Hugh Akston, and believe that she would hold him in very high regard.
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    • Posted by servant74 6 years, 4 months ago
      Current GM management is throwing the blame on old GM management and is getting lots of credit in the public view. It appears they are being rewarded by the public by additional sales.

      When GM and Chrysler weren't allowed to die a natural death is where Ayn Rand would disagree with what the USGov did.

      I agree with Ayn, but the nanny state says they 'saved' jobs by stealing the ownership of GM & Chry from the legal owners, and not letting those guys go bust by their own devices.
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      • Posted by Robbie53024 6 years, 4 months ago
        GM has been a basket case for decades. It only survives via cronyism and powerful unions that influence the politicians to keep propping it up.
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  • Posted by Tuner38 6 years, 4 months ago
    Deming's ideas and procedures only have value when implemented. Many American businesses have mangers that are fad grabbers. They jump on the latest bandwagon, think they can "tweak" it to improve it and then spot another fad management tool and do it all over again. With 22years experience in major company management I can assure you my experience complies with this approach.
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  • Posted by $ Technocracy 6 years, 4 months ago
    The problem with using Deming's ideas, SPC or anything of that nature is this....

    Far too often it is viewed as the be all and end all of quality and it is not.

    In the end it all comes down to the people using the processes. You can have the tightest most efficient and elegant manufacturing process in the world but that does not guarantee a quality product.

    If your people using the process do not care about what they do, if they just go along to get along, your entire quality assurance process will spend its time addressing errors, and never have a chance to spend the thought and effort to achieve improvements.

    If you had a workforce and management team consisting of John Gaults that would not be true because they would all be doing the best job they possibly could.

    Unfortunately that doesn't happen in the real world. What you wind up with is something between a Gault level product and utter crap, and a responsible company that wants to stay in business tries to get that product as close to the Gault level as they can.

    So Deming and all the other QC programs/processes/pick a term, are an effort to bring the end product up to a standard. Meanwhile the money people try to save money wherever they can and often QC is an easy target.

    Almost never do they, either QC or the company as a whole, attempt to either exceed or raise the "standard" of the product being produced.

    Quality Control is probably one of the most frustrating segments to work in there is.
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    • Posted by IndianaGary 6 years, 4 months ago
      Agreed. Just like the AWG crowd, Deming's ideas are looked upon as "settled science" which assumes that no one need *thiink* about the subject anymore. Anything depending upon human psychology is far from "settled".
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      • Posted by Robbie53024 6 years, 4 months ago
        Actually, the statistical part of Deming is settled "science" - or at least quality control. That said, there is also a lot of human management that occurs. In fact, I find that fully 50% of my activity is human change management.
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    • Posted by BambiB 6 years, 4 months ago
      In most companies QA gets squeezed from both ends. The initial development plan may say, "3 months development, 1 month QA, release in 4 months total", but it's typical that when development runs past its 3 months, the release date is not extended. Worse, if the sales people get hold of enough information, they'll go sell it to the customers as ready a month BEFORE the initial release date.

      During my time working as a QA manager for one of the world's largest on-line retailers, we had exactly two Sev-1 errors. In the first case, a dev changed the software AFTER it had been QAed and did not resubmit it for test before pushing his rev on line. The second case, the devs were behind schedule and under pressure for an "on time" release. While the software was still being reviewed, they pushed the code live - and it failed in spectacular fashion. Both are examples of how QA is frequently disregarded, when in fact it can be the most important means of saving the company from derision, loss of trust, loss of capital, failure. It's the conscious decision between "do it fast" and "do it right".
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      • Posted by Robbie53024 6 years, 4 months ago
        This is brought on by Critical Path project management instead of Critical Chain. If they changed they would be better able to deliver on time and on budget.
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  • Posted by j_IR1776wg 6 years, 4 months ago
    I have a question. The only two models I'm aware of for manufacturing anything to a specification are:
    1) To perform a 100% inspection of all units produced and reject those that fall outside the spec limits or
    2) Try to eliminate defects before they occur by testing statistically
    A) Whether the raw material can be manufactured within spec limits.
    B) Whether the machinery can form the raw material into a finished product within spec limits
    C) What effect the machines operator has on the finished product.

    Is there a third way to manufacture anything? I've employed SPC successfully during my career. I'm afraid I don't understand the objections to it.
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    • Posted by Robbie53024 6 years, 4 months ago
      Actually, number 2 isn't testing, rather measuring and tracking the data via SPC to predict when the process was going out of control. Then adjusting or changing wear components so that it comes back within acceptable range.
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  • Posted by $ blarman 6 years, 4 months ago
    I agree with woodlema: there is a significant difference between an invention and an improvement. Rand focused a lot on invention where Deming focused on improvement. I think the two are complementary much more than they are combative in nature. I wholeheartedly agree with the evolutionary vs revolutionary descriptions as being applicable: one involving incremental adjustments and the other invention or re-invention.

    Do you really think that Hank Reardon would have scoffed at Deming when producing Reardon Metal? I wot not. I think Dagny Taggart would have loved to have been able to get her hands on the parts she needed that had been rigorously QC'd using Deming's methods so she wasn't constantly jury-rigging or cannabilizing things!
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  • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 6 years, 4 months ago

    "MIss Taggart this new process is innovative. It leapfrogs all existing technologies."
    She examined the equations on her iPad while reading the blueprints before her. "So you are telling me that my 100-car trains will leapfrog a 1000-foot gorge?"
    The men looked at each other. "We think that 80% of them will, probably."
    "Probably," she said.
    "This is a new technology. It is lightyears beyond anything ever done before. It is a radical departure based on a new theory."
    "Does it come with a new theory of gravity? I only ask because of the passengers in the cars leapfrogging the 1000-foot ravine."
    "You cannot expect to constrain a business by measuring decimal points!" the youngest of them asserted. "We represent the investors. We are not just a bunch of engineers here."
    Dagny said, "Well, clearly, because, you know, most engineers would have about three decimal places of certainty before they opened their mouths."
    The oldest woman present scoffed. "We are not tied down by repetitious conformity, Miss Taggart! We are entrepreneurial visionaries!"
    "I, too, am getting a vision of a train leapfrogging a 1000-foot chasm 80% of the time."
    "Oh, no, Miss Taggart! 100% of time, but 80% of the cars... we think..."

    --------------------------------------------

    The question is complicated. I have worked for Kawasaki as an employee and for Honda as a contractor. I have had Ford and GM for customers. I was on a DoD project that won a DoDIG Quality Award. I have worked for innovators and copycats. All in all, generalizations fail because each case is unique. "Unique" does not mean unknowable or ineffable or unquantifiable or mysterious. I found Deming's tools to be highly useful and greatly profitable. But no one feature defines a complex process.

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  • Posted by Robbie53024 6 years, 4 months ago



    W. Edwards Deming offered 14 key principles for management to follow for significantly improving the effectiveness of a business or organization. Many of the principles are philosophical. Others are more programmatic. All are transformative in nature. The points were first presented in his book Out of the Crisis. Below is the condensation of the 14 Points for Management as they appeared in the book.

    1. Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service, with the aim to become competitive and 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 inspection on a mass basis by building quality into the product in the first place.

    4. End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price tag. Instead, minimize total cost. Move toward 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 (see Point 12 and Ch. 8). The aim of supervision should be to help people and machines and gadgets to 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 (see Ch. 3).

    9. Break down barriers between departments. People in research, design, sales, and production must work as a team, to foresee problems of production and in use 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.
    •Eliminate work standards (quotas) on the factory floor. Substitute leadership.
    •Eliminate management by objective. Eliminate management by numbers, numerical goals. Substitute 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 objective (see Ch. 3).

    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.


    Based on these 14 points, I think that AR would find Deming quite a kindred spirit. Be the best that you can be, and management should help that to come about.
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  • Posted by j_IR1776wg 6 years, 4 months ago
    I do not recall Ayn Rand writing anything about the process Rearden used to control the quality of his metal. Anyone with experience with manufacturing large quantities of anything soon realizes that while principles must be rigid, measurement must be statistical. I also don't remember her discussing Deming and have no idea what she thought of him.
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    • Posted by servant74 6 years, 4 months ago
      Deming came along long after Rand. That being said, Ayn wouldn't have anything to say about Deming. We need to just use Ayn Rand principles as a lens to view what Deming did.
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      • Posted by j_IR1776wg 6 years, 4 months ago
        Deming got his PHD from Yale in 1928 long before Rand wrote Atlas Shrugged. I don't know how anyone can claim to know what she thought of his work unless she spoke or wrote of him.
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  • Posted by Robbie53024 6 years, 4 months ago
    Whatever caused you to write such a woefully uninformed blog post?
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    • Posted by 6 years, 4 months ago
      Because I get tired of doing business with people handcuffed by him. "Uninformed"? I don't think so. Deming was anti management based of his behavior, in spite of what he stated as a consultant.

      Examples, GE, Lockheed Martin, Pratt and Whitney, Bell Helicopter---oh and the Boeing plant in Wichita that is no longer there--because of their need to downsize. What do they all have in common? You might want to check into it before saying that I'm "uninformed."
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      • Posted by Robbie53024 6 years, 4 months ago
        You are woefully uninformed. This is an area that I am an expert in. The failures you cite have nothing to do with a Deming oriented quality management system. They are related to management by flavor of the month, and MBA's that have little understanding of actual production and product development and only experience as bean counters.

        Do you know what statistical process control is about? What is a standard deviation? Do you know any of the tests for special cause variation? And if they are violated is that an absolute identification of an out of control process?

        Face it, you speak from ignorance. Deming's criticism of management was that they acted like oligarchs and not managers. Managers help to get the best out of their people, including using the knowledge that those workers have to improve the systems. Oligarch tell the workers to shut up, check their brains at the door, and do what they're told.

        I think that AR would support the methods espoused by Dr. Deming.
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        • Posted by 6 years, 4 months ago
          I think you are very wrong. Are you a blackbelt and this subject clashes with a system you believe in? I've been through all of that and don't buy it. I posed a question and wanted feedback. I'm interested in your support of Deming, but if you want to beat on your chest to defend your position then it tells me you're insecure about some aspect of it. My observation is that it ties up companies from needed innovations. If you can prove otherwise, please do. If you want to talk about ignorance, and failures and turn this into a negative, then we can do that to.
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          • Posted by Robbie53024 6 years, 4 months ago
            Just because you don't buy it doesn't mean it isn't valid. What gives you any experience/expertise in the subject? I'm a degreed engineer. Have practiced in several fortune 500 companies. Have studied and applied Deming principles, lean and six sigma for over 20 years.

            I'm no ignoramus with his head stuck in the sand believing what doesn't have supporting evidence.

            As a practitioner of Design for Six Sigma, I am acutely aware of the needs of innovation (in fact I have gathered and trained several dozen approaches to innovation including TRIZ), as well as the deficiencies in DMAIC six sigma in addressing innovation.

            What is it that you don't buy in to? That you can identify for a group of customers what is an acceptable level of variation that still provides an acceptable level of satisfaction? That you can measure those critical to customer variables and statistically determine whether you are within a range that is going to provide a product that is going to satisfy a certain percentage of customers?

            Please elucidate me, oh wise one.
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            • Posted by 6 years, 4 months ago
              I should have guessed you're an engineer. There's nothing wrong with that--but now I see where you are coming from. I see these processes that started with Deming and were modified by many through the years just a bit, to be a thin way to disguise incompetant behavior through statistics. The emphisis on quality is wonderful if the proper definition of quality is established by a "John Galt" type--someone like a real life BIll Gates, or Steve Forbes. If there is a visionary in place who can see well down the road then the back of the bus TQM systems work as useful tools. But--without such a person, the Deming approach only hides the need for visionary types and gives companies the impression that they can thrive as a company if they hire a bunch of Blackbelts to manage their systems. In otherwords, the emphisis on systems hides the need for people of vision to actually lead. Of course most companies have bad managers and they hide nicely in such systems where quality becomes some worshipped god instead of a factor of business that should be a forgone conclusion. The people within the company then behave in the same way as a religious cult instead of productive contributers.

              There are some useful tools, done get me wrong. But the general philosophy allows the lackluster management types, and employees to feel they are equal to the innovator--and this just isn't the case. The introduction of a system put in place to remove the need for top down visionary leadership is a false one.
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              • Posted by Robbie53024 6 years, 4 months ago
                What you describe is antithetical to everything that Dr. Deming taught and believed was needed for a successful company. To denigrate his wisdom because some have bastardized it (and I absolutely agree that that has happened) is akin to saying that a beef filet is garbage because some moron ground it up, made it into hamburger and then grilled it well done. It might have started the same, but it's definitely not the same in the end.

                Besides management not understanding anything other than counting beans, the other issue is acolytes of this philosophy or that for quality and continuous improvement. They develop their hammer and drive everything with it as if every problem were a nail. Not every problem is the same - some are merely waste and a simple Lean approach will be most effective, some are a function of excessive variation creating unacceptable losses where DMAIC six sigma is most appropriate, some require understanding where the real constraint is in the system and a TOC approach is required, and some just aren't capable of being satisfactory to the customer with the current offering and a DfSS approach is needed. As an engineer first, problem solver second (or really first as that's all an engineer really is), I'm not wedded to any particular approach, rather to whichever will solve the problem the best. Dr. Deming didn't teach much about developing something new, he was too appalled that organizations couldn't make what they already had developed in a cost effective/high quality manner and he focused on that. But, what he did focus on helps me every day to see that I need to understand the real customer requirement in quantifiable and verifiable terms, understand the processes that will be used to create those parameters that can be measured and capability assessed, and to ensure that my systems of measuring are proper and capable for the type of evaluation that I need to use to ensure that I can properly judge the quality.

                Dr. Deming was a great and brilliant man. If Detroit had listened to him in the 50's he never would have gone to Japan. The American auto industry would be the beacon of manufacturing excellence and since it casts a very wide shadow, so would the rest of American industry. We would be competing today on quality and efficiency unmatched throughout the world. Instead, we have MBA bean counters chasing cheap labor around the world. What a waste.
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              • Posted by $ blarman 6 years, 4 months ago
                I would hesitate to lump Bill Gates in as a "John Galt" type. I would definitely use Apple's Steve Jobs, but Bill Gates didn't invent anything more than the BASIC language - everything else he copied from someone else. DOS, Windows, Excel, Access, SQL Server - all of them had roots somewhere else. The only genius Bill Gates evinced was in recognizing the prospect of licensing software rather than purchasing it. See "Pirates of Silicon Valley" for a great documentary/commentary on the invention of computers.

                To address the rest of your post, I would add that you need BOTH innovation and execution to be successful in business. You have to have the ideas that provide value AND the vehicle of delivery. Deming's expertise was not in innovation, but rather in delivering quality products.

                The thing to keep in mind is that even quality improvement is an iterative process subject to diminishing returns and it works best when you have a product that changes only slightly over a very long period of time so you can collect a catalog of improvements. For a short-lived product such as clothing fashions and consumer electronics, quality often takes a backseat to innovation because the value of the offering is in its timeliness to market (Apple's iPod and iPhone are exceptions, being both innovative AND quality products). Contrast this with the automobile industry where lives are at stake (see GM's recalls because of faulty starters or hearken back to the Firestone tire debacle) and the industry is mature and developed: quality jumps to the top of the value hierarchy. I think it would be incorrect to assume that every business or market adheres to the same sets of value propositions.
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  • Posted by wiggys 6 years, 4 months ago
    i think the word is "despise" him!
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    • Posted by woodlema 6 years, 4 months ago
      Why? Do you think Ayn Rand would promote a company that produced CRAP, and had taxpayers bail them out of the financial trouble from producing CRAP? Do you really think Ayn Rand would despise a man who provides a framework for companies to produce something that lasts? Something that sets them apart from the competition that does not produce a quality product. Again do not confuse quality with creativity.
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      • Posted by IndianaGary 6 years, 4 months ago
        I agree, but consistent with my other replies above I caution you that many in business look upon Deming's work as a "solved" problem and simply execute his approach by rote; they don't believe that the issues involved require any additional thought and this is far from the truth. I've worked for such companies and their focus is so much on quality that they stifle creativity and innovation from the ranks.
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        • Posted by Robbie53024 6 years, 4 months ago
          There was nothing about Deming that was rote. Think would be his primary admonition. Understand your processes, and utilize all knowledge that is available - most importantly that of the workers who are closest to the processes.
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        • Posted by servant74 6 years, 4 months ago
          Quality was defined in a CI class I was forced to take as a 'meeting specifications'. Not by fixing whats wrong. This always irritated me, since I wasn't allowed to fix things even if the specifications were wrong or the situation.
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    • Posted by 6 years, 4 months ago
      I agree with you.
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      • Posted by 6 years, 4 months ago
        I think the answer is in Pirsig's work on the Metaphysics of Quality. You have to know what quality is before you can check for it. Quality isn't always zero defects. Sometimes innovation has to evolve with zero defects to meet the market expectations driven by market forces.
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        • Posted by $ blarman 6 years, 4 months ago
          The devil is always in the details. You are correct in identifying that there are substantial metaphysical attributes associate with Quality because it IS at its core a subjective term. Deming only sought out ways to objectively examine quality in a quantitative manner, the premise being that if you could establish what objectively could be described as a "satisfactory" level of Quality, it then became a straightforward comparison to evaluate one's products on this basis. If one significantly exceeded these benchmarks, one could verifiably claim "superior" quality.

          I think that Rand would congratulate Deming in his efforts to objectify the inherently subjective!
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          • Posted by Robbie53024 6 years, 4 months ago
            Quality is subjective in the individual, but objective in the aggregate.

            Better said, every individual consumer has their distinct expectation for what they consider "quality." However, when you collect all these expectations together you can establish an expectation of "quality" that satisfies x% of the overall customers. This makes the subjective on an individual level objective on a market basis. And those expectations can be measured and evaluated statistically.
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  • -1
    Posted by Robbie53024 6 years, 4 months ago
    Overman you are so woefully uninformed on this topic as to make your essay a laughingstock.

    I don't disagree that American business management is totally screwed up, but it has nothing to do with Deming or anything that he taught about quality management and improvement. If anything, it is a manifestation of finance and sales fields dominating management.

    I defy you to find one American company lead by an engineer and following Deming principles that is producing poor products or not making profits.

    GE and HP once were the pinnacle of their industries - under leaders that understood manufacturing, product development, and quality control. Once they lost that leadership they began to falter.

    Deming was all about quality management and control - that is different from innovation. That said, there are ways to apply statistical methods in the design realm that aid and speed up innovation and product development.
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    • Posted by Robbie53024 6 years, 4 months ago
      Deming was no collectivist - he realized that those that are closest to the machinery and assembly processes likely had the greatest understanding of what works and what doesn't and advocated utilizing that resource to improve things. That's not collectivism, that's just good management.
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