The roots of Quality Control in Japan

Dr. Deming said it will take about thirty years for the United States to catch up with Japan. This is a somewhere pessimistic view of the United States.

Elaborating Dr.Deming said he doesn’t really know how long it will take. It will take thirty years or less or it should take all of thirty years. America will catch up with Japan because, so far as he can see, the Japanese system has the advantage over the American system. For example, consider the principle of constancy of purpose, which is absolutely vital and is number one in his Fourteen Points. It refers to planning for the future with constancy of purposes.

Now in America some companies certainly do have constancy of purposes, but most do not. Most have a president who was brought in to improve the quarterly dividend. That’s his job; you can’t blame him for doing it. He will be there for a while then go on to some other place to raise the quarterly dividend there. For instance, someone told him that there were five candidates for president of one of the biggest and most famous of America’s companies. When one of them was selected, the other four resigned from the company. Such a thing could not happen in Japan. So you see, the American system is so up that it cannot use the talents of its people. That is very serious.

People cannot work for the company. They only get out their quota. You can not blame a person for doing the job that is cut out for him since he has to pay his rent and take care of his family. You can not blame him, but you can blame management for a situation in which people cannot work for the company. An employee cannot remain on the job to find out for sure what the job is. The foreman does not have time to help him. As a matter of fact, the foreman may decide a particular person cannot do the job at all and perhaps should be let go. People report equipment out of order and nothing happens. If someone reports equipment out of order more than three or four times, that person is considered a troublemaker.

Dr. Deming’s fourteen points on Quality:

1. Achieve constancy of purpose
2. Learn a new philosophy
3. Do not depend on mass inspections
4. Reduce the number of vendors
5. Recognize two sources of faults:
Management and production systems
Production workers
6. Improve on-the-job training
7. Improve supervision
8. Drive out fear
9. Improve communication
10. Eliminate fear
11. Consider work standards carefully
12. Teach statistical methods
13. Encourage new skills
14. Use statistical knowledge

If he tries to find out more about the job from the foreman, he is considered a troublemaker. People find out that it is impossible to do what is best for the company or do their best work for the company. They just have to carry on as best as they can, given the handicaps.

In addition, people have to use materials that are not suited to the job, and this creates a sense of desperation. There isn’t much they can do it – if they report, or try to do something, they are labeled troublemakers. This situation does not exist in Japan. There, everyone is willing to help everyone else.