Fourteen Points of Dr Deming – A discussion

A good way to assess a company’s constancy of purpose is to evaluate the source of ultimate authority in that company. To whom does the president of the company answer? Does anybody own the company? Do the owners answer to the stockholders? The stockholders, thousands of them, who want dividends – to whom do they answer? Do they answer to their consciences? Do they answer to a built-in institution? Do they answer to a constitution of the company? Is there a constitution for the company?

Some companies have a constitution. In medical service, for example, you have some constancy of purpose. Not all, but some nursing homes or other medical institutions are under the governance of a religious board, and they’re very exact about service. The head of the organization answers to constancy of purpose. There is a constitution with an aim of going beyond the making of dividends. You have to pay to keep such institutions going, but their job is service. The reason why the public school systems fail in America is because the schools don’t answer to anybody. There is no constitution. What is their aim? Is it to teach, or to produce? Is it to help youngsters that have ability to develop that ability, or is it something else? I don’t know. The aim is not stated, so the schools are failing.

We hear that American companies are now changing and adopting such things as quality control. Do you think American companies are heeding your message?

Many companies are forming QC circles in America without understanding what they are doing. QC circles cannot be effective in the absence of quality control, which means management actively adopting Deming’s Fourteen Points. Many companies are forming QC circles because management wants a lazy way to avoid the job of improving quality and productivity. These circles will make a worthwhile contribution if they are given a chance, but QC circles alone are not quality control. Once it becomes obvious that management is working on the Fourteen Points and is trying to do something to make people more effective in their work then the workers will be creative.

Can you imagine people in a QC circle being effective when half of them will be turned out on the streets when business slacks off? Can you imagine an effective QC circle when half or even fewer of the people involved were rehired after being laid off during a slump? People have to feel secure. That means, according to the word’s derivation, without concern, from the Latin se for without and cure meaning care or concern. Security means being able to speak ask each other questions and help one another. There is nothing to hide and no one to please. Most people who work are only trying to please somebody because otherwise they might not have a job.

The lack of constancy of purpose in America is very serious. For example, Dr. Deming received a letter from a man who asked what he could do that would have a lasting benefit for his company. The problem is, the man will probably be where he is for only two more years. At the end of two years, he will either be promoted or he will look for a job with another company. He asked what fire he could start that would continue to burn after he leaves his job, whether he is promoted at the same company or goes elsewhere. It’s a very serious question. No one knows if there is an answer.

There is another serious matter in this country: the supposition that quality control consists of a bag of techniques. Quality control is more than just a set of techniques. But you cannot have quality control without physical techniques. One of Dr.Deming’s Fourteen Points is to remove fear within a company, to make people secure. He doesn’t know of any physical techniques to bring this about. But it is through physical techniques that he discovered the existence of fear. Fear is costing companies a great deal of money and causing a lot of waste in out-of-order machines and rework. Fear causes wasted human effort and wasted materials. It arises because people do not understand their jobs, and has no place to go for help. There may not be any statistical technique by which to establish constancy of purpose and eliminate fear.