dr deming

Dr. Deming



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commit perceive nothing to do
aspect principle consultant
core mindset emphasize
award influence nonetheless
giant literally reputation
leap refine enhancement
loyal gradual avalanche
propel premium acknowledge
revere embrace foundation
adopt slogan documentary
hire dominate long term/long run
deficit miracle proclamation


Car Sales

The March 1991 issue of Forbes magazine compared the sales of two cars: the Chrysler-Plymouth Laser and the Mitsubishi Eclipse. The Laser averaged 13 sales per dealership, while the Eclipse averaged over 100.

Interestingly, both cars were exactly the same; they had been built as a partnership between the two companies.

The only difference was their brand name and the company selling it.

So how could one car so vastly outsell the other?

Higher Quality

The researchers discovered that people perceived products made in Japan as being of higher quality. Over the years, Japanese industry had developed a reputation for quality — to the point where everyone took it for granted.

With that being said, Japan’s commitment to quality had actually been introduced there by an American: Dr. William Edwards Deming.

Dr. Deming

In 1950, the management consultant was brought to Japan by US General Douglas MacArthur, the Allied occupation commander, to assist in rebuilding the country’s industrial base which had been ravaged during the Second World War.

Deming began giving lectures in his total quality-control principles to Japanese business leaders and engineers.

Despite the terminology, this had nothing to do with technical aspects. Instead, it consisted of his basic core belief and Fourteen Principles.

The Core Belief

The core belief is this: a constant, never-ending commitment to continuously improving the quality of work and business, every single day.

Quality, Deming emphasized, was not just about meeting a certain standard, but a mindset … a habit … a way of life.

If the Japanese were to adopt these principles and core belief, Deming promised that within five years, they would be able to compete internationally with quality products. And within two decades Japan would become an economic world power.

Everyone thought that Deming’s proclamations were crazy.


Nonetheless, Japanese businesses embraced his ideas with enthusiasm.

Because of Deming’s influence, there is a word in the Japanese language that is constantly heard in serious discussions: kaizen.

Kaizen literally means “constant improvement”. They often speak of the kaizen of technology … the kaizen of business … the kaizen of relationships. They’re constantly searching for ways to improve.

Incremental Improvements

A corollary of kaizen is the principle of very gradual, small improvements — not necessarily giant, radical leaps.

It’s tiny refinements made on a daily basis that begin to snowball into an avalanche of enhancements over time.

The Customer

Japanese companies held themselves to a higher standard of quality than even their customers expected.

Businesses believed that if they created a high quality product, they would not only have satisfied customers, but loyal (i.e. repeat) customers.

These customers would be willing to pay more money for premium products.

And they would tell all their friends . . .

The Deming Prize

This fundamental outlook — a commitment to constant, never-ending improvement in the quality of work, products and services — propelled Japan to one of the top industrial and trading nations of the world.

Today Deming is revered as the father of Japan’s “economic miracle.”

In fact, every year, the highest honor a Japanese company can receive is the National Deming Prize. This award acknowledges the company that represents the highest level of increases in quality of products, service, management, and worker support.

Back in America

Meanwhile back in the United States, Deming’s ideas were largely forgotten and business carried on as usual.

But soon, they began to lose out to Japanese imports.

Then in 1980, Deming appeared in a television documentary, “If Japan Can, Why Can’t We?”

As a result, major US corporations began adopting his principles.

Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company hired Deming as a consultant in 1983. He taught them that quality always costs less, in the long term.

Ford reorganized its entire focus to make quality their top priority — as reflected in their advertising slogan, “Quality is Job One”.

Within three years Ford had moved from a huge deficit to dominate the automobile industry with a $6 billion profit.

Deming’s ideas have now become the foundation of every successful, major corporation worldwide.


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1. How are the Chrysler-Plymouth Laser and the Mitsubishi Eclipse different? What is the difference between the Chrysler-Plymouth Laser and the Mitsubishi Eclipse?

2. What did consumers think about the label “Made in Japan”?

3. The Japanese first developed the idea of industrial quality. Is this true or false?

4. Were Dr. Deming’s teachings of a technical nature? What were his ideas?

5. Does kaizen only apply to innovations and inventions?

6. What would happen if a business adopted his principles? What did he say about customers?

7. Is there an irony or paradox about Dr. Deming’s ideas and teachings? What happened in Japan and the US?

8. Is Dr. Deming revered and respect more in his native country?
A. I have heard of Dr. Deming and kaizen. Yes or no?

B. My company encourages constant and never-ending improvements in all aspects. True or false?

C. What are some areas for improvement in your workstation and company or organization?

D. Do customers associate certain countries with high quality products?

E. How can kaizen be applied to other aspects of your life?


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