A tribute to Deming

November is the Global Quality Month, it’s a time to celebrate and showcase quality and continuous improvement efforts.

That’s why I would like to start my blog in November, writing about the man who inspired this celebration, Edwards W. Deming.

The Global Quality month started in 1960, when Japan was celebrating the 10th anniversary of the National Quality Award named after Deming. This award was given every November since 1950 to companies applying Deming teachings in Japan. At that time, when Japan was devastated morally and economically after the war, Edwards Deming gave them a reason to continue fighting and survive no matter what. 


Japanese didn’t have many natural resources, and their products were really poor quality, so their companies were not able to compete with other countries. In order to go back to the global market, they started to look for “outsiders” to help them improve the quality of their products. The JUSE, Japanese Union of Scientist and Engineers heard that Deming, an american statistician was visiting Japan, so they asked him to deliver some training in statistics to the members of the Union. He accepted right away, and offered to also deliver some training sessions to directors of the most important companies in the country. The outcome of these training was so successful that he actually transformed Japan’s economy.
He taught them to use statistics for consumer research, quality control, sampling to gauge the true demands of consumers, change the design of products and adjust their output, you name it. Every industry learned to use his tools, from heavy industries to hospitals, from front line employees to managers, from big to small business. 

The Deming Prize

During his very first visit, Deming was offered to get paid for the trainings he delivered, but he refused, he only accepted payment for his travel expenses. So that money was donated to the creation of the Deming prize. The Deming prize has stimulated effort on the part of hundreds of companies to improve their product, and with the creation  of the Global Quality month, it continues to foster continuous improvement all around the globe. 
Nowadays several countries have their own price, such as the United States with the Malcolm Baldridge and Argentina with the National Quality Award.

Since his first visit, Deming went 19 times in total to Japan. He also visited several other countries like Australia, Argentina, Chile, Mexico to deliver his trainings. In US he not only delivered training but also provided consulting services to companies like Ford, American Express, Young and Rubican, various railcar companies, hospitals and other national bureaus. They all discovered the paradox, know for years to the japanese, that higher quality means lower costs. 


The Deming Institute

In the US Deming is nowadays remembered by The Deming institute, an organization lead by his grandson Kevin Cahill which I had the pleasure to meet this fall.

Visit to the Library of Congress

I was looking forward to apply his methodology to Biztorming so I came up with the Institute. I learned that they were offering grants to go to the Library of Congress in Washington DC to read Deming Manuscripts. I sent a proposal to do a research and happily I was accepted! I was lucky enough to be able to also attend the annual conference in LA in October this year, and visit the Library of Congress in November. I even visited his house in Washington DC.

Thanks to the Institute I was able to learn more about quality. Thanks to Deming we are  all celebrating this month, let’s continue what he started! 

He once said “You can put a date on an earthquake, but you cannot date improvement”. It’s in our hands to improve the quality of the world we live in, don’t you agree?
Luciana Paulise

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