Winning with Quality

Management guru W. Edward Deming is finally being heard in America, the land of his birth.

Japan’s prestigious international award for quality a Deming Prize has been given to Florida Power and Light Company (FPL), which is Miami-based and one of the fastest growing electrical utilities. The Deming judges relied on massive documentation and on-site inspections and spent 18 months with FPL’s management processes and its delivery of services before awarding the prize to the company in November 1989. Only since, 1988 non-Japanese companies have been allowed to compete for the prize. It is rediscovery of W. E. Deming in America.

Deming first convinced Japanese in 1950 about the importance of quality in products. For several years, American businessmen had ignored Deming, even though he taught a popular course in statistics at New York University and had a thriving consultancy in sampling. Incidentally, Government of India had hired Deming as a consultant in 1947, 1951 and in 1971. He devised an efficient sampling technique for US Bureau of Census. During World War II, he helped American defense industries apply Statistical Quality Control (SQC).

American industry, complacent in its prosperity, had no use of Deming and his 14-point QC program. He was invited by Japanese Scientists and Engineers to talk about quality and convinced that Japan would accept quality consciousness, he stayed on to become a hero there, making Japan penetrate into the world markets by superior quality and productivity. America woke up to his genius 30 years after Japan had begun facing Deming’s line. Deming was hired by Ford in 1983 to effect turn around. For more than a decade now, Deming is spreading his quality mission in American industries like GM, ford, AT & T, Western Electric, Nashua.

Deming has now expired at the age of 93 on Dec. 20, 1993.

Deming is against numerical quotas, against exhorting workers to improve quality because most of the things that contribute to quality are not in their control, against quality control by inspection which he terms as criminal.

The heart of Deming’s method for achieving quality is statistical.

A Deming Checklist:

1. Build quality into the process. Don’t rely on inspection.

2. Foster teamwork.

3. Establish long-term ties with select suppliers. No contracts on price tag alone.

4. Train workers and managers for participating in the improvement process.

5. Top management’s commitment to products and services.

Quality leads to customer loyalty to get a reliable product which lasts longer. The most important dimension of quality is, however the reduced variability or increased uniformity. This comes about by improving the process or the system. The quality problems (85%) are related to the system and only a few are related to individuals (15%). Deming’s continuation is to have established quality as tool to competitive success for which he has suggested 14 points as guidelines which are given beow:

1. Create constancy of purpose for improvement of product/service.
2. Adopt a new philosophy which does not accept poor workmanship and sullen service.
3. Cease dependence of mass inspection. Quality comes not from inspection but from improvement of the process.
4. End the practice of awarding business on price tag alone. Purchases from the lowest priced vendor may lead to low quality purchases.
5. Improved constantly and forever the system of production and service.
6. Industrial training.
7. Institute leadership.
8. Drive out fear.
9. Break down barrier between staff areas.
10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the work force.
11. Eliminate numerical quotas.
12. Remove barriers to pride of workmanship.
13. Institute various programs of education and retraining.
14. Take action to accomplish the transformation.