The Father of Quality

Dr. Çağrı ATASEVEN
8 min readNov 9

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If you are a part of the quality world, you have probably heard of World Quality Day celebrated every year on the second Thursday of November. In 2023 it falls on the 9th of November.

That’s why today, on World Quality Day, I want to talk about someone significant in the quality world. Who?

The Father of Quality: W. Edwards Deming[1].

In this article, we will journey through Deming’s life and discuss why he is considered the father of quality.

Who is W. Edwards Deming?

William Edwards Deming was born on October 14, 1900, in Sioux City, Iowa, USA. Deming studied electrical engineering at Yale University and later earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of Colorado. He completed his doctorate in mathematics and physics at Yale University[1].

Deming began working at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1927, and it was during this period that his talent for statistics was recognized. He continued his work in statistics and quality control, focusing on quality management in the business world and industry[1].

Deming’s work has had a significant global impact in the areas of quality control, continuous improvement, and enhancing efficiency. His life and contributions have brought about transformations in the business world and emphasized the importance of quality[2].

Deming Chain Reaction

The Deming Chain Reaction is a concept that describes the cause-and-effect relationship between a series of interconnected steps in an organization’s quality improvement process. The chain reaction is often summarized in the following way [3]:

https://deming.org/deming-chain-reaction/

Improved Quality: The process starts with a focus on improving the quality of products, services, or processes within an organization.

Increased Productivity: As quality improves, there is a natural increase in productivity. Fewer errors, defects, and rework are required, resulting in more efficient and streamlined operations.

Lower Costs: With increased productivity and fewer errors, an organization can reduce its operational costs. Lower costs make the company more competitive in the market.

Improved Competitive Position: Reduced costs and improved quality lead to a stronger competitive position. This allows the organization to gain a larger market share and increase its profitability.

Growth and Job Security: As the organization’s market share and profitability grow, it can invest in expansion, create more jobs, and provide greater job security for its employees.

Steady Improvement: The cycle is continuous, with the focus returning to improving quality. It becomes a never-ending loop of continuous improvement.

Deming’s 14 Points

Deming’s 14 Points, also known as Deming’s 14 Principles, are a set of management principles and guidelines developed by W. Edwards Deming. These principles are aimed at helping organizations achieve higher quality, increased efficiency, and improved productivity. Deming’s 14 Points are often considered a foundational framework for Total Quality Management (TQM). Here are the 14 points [4]:

Deming 14 Points at Toyota

1- Create constancy of purpose for improvement: Organizations should establish and maintain a clear, long-term commitment to continuous improvement, rather than focusing solely on short-term profits.

2- Adopt a new philosophy: A transformation in management thinking is required to focus on quality, prevention of defects, and continuous improvement.

3- Cease dependence on inspection: Reducing reliance on inspection and shifting towards building quality into the process from the start is more effective.

4- End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price alone: Quality should be a primary factor in supplier selection, not just price.

5- Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service: Continuously improve processes and systems to enhance quality and efficiency.

6- Institute training: Invest in employee training and development to improve skills and capabilities.

7- Adopt and institute leadership: Leadership that helps people understand their role and purpose is vital.

8- Drive out fear: Create an environment where employees are not afraid to voice concerns or make suggestions for improvement.

9- Break down barriers between departments: Foster collaboration and communication among different departments and teams.

10- Eliminate slogans and exhortations: Relying on slogans and motivational sayings is less effective than providing the necessary tools and support for quality improvement.

11- Eliminate numerical quotas: Remove production quotas and targets that may hinder quality and continuous improvement.

12- Remove barriers to pride in workmanship: Encourage employees to take pride in their work and provide opportunities for them to contribute to quality improvements.

13- Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement: Promote lifelong learning and personal development among employees.

14 -Put everyone in the company to work to accomplish the transformation: Create a culture where everyone in the organization is involved in the process of continuous improvement.

After World War II, his Impact on Japan

W. Edwards Deming, particularly in the post-World War II era, made significant contributions to the fields of quality control and continuous improvement in Japan. During this period, Deming’s contributions triggered a major transformation in the Japanese industry, making Japan a competitive force on a global scale [5].

After World War II, Deming was appointed to Japan by the American occupation forces. He was an expert in production and quality control. During this period, the Japanese industry faced significant challenges and had serious deficiencies in quality.

Deming encouraged companies to review their management practices and focus on continuous improvement. Companies aimed to increase quality by increasing employee involvement and making data-driven decisions.

Deming provided training to Japanese companies in statistics and quality control. These training programs taught businesses to monitor processes and detect and correct errors. Deming’s “Deming Chain Reaction” method was used to enhance the quality of products and services.

Japanese companies adopted Deming’s teachings and, as a result, improved quality. The improvement in product quality made Japanese products more competitive in the global market.

One Example: Ford-Mazda study

Deming’s teachings and philosophy are best exemplified when examining the remarkable results they yielded after being embraced by the Japanese industry. One notable case, known as the Ford-Mazda study, vividly illustrates this impact. During the 1950s, Ford Motor Company was manufacturing a car model with transmissions produced both in Japan by Mazda and in the United States by Ford. Surprisingly, Ford customers began to prefer the model with Japanese transmissions and were even willing to wait for it, despite both transmissions being made to the same specifications. This puzzled Ford engineers who couldn’t comprehend the customer’s strong preference for the Japanese model [6].

To solve the mystery, Ford engineers decided to disassemble and inspect both sets of transmissions. What they found was quite revealing. The American-made car parts all fell within the specified tolerance levels, meeting the engineering standards. In contrast, the Japanese car parts were strikingly similar to each other and were significantly closer to the nominal values for the parts. For instance, if a part was supposed to be one foot long, with a tolerance of plus or minus 1/8 of an inch (300 mm ± 3 mm), the Japanese parts consistently measured within 1/16 of an inch (1.6 mm), displaying far less variation[7].

This consistency and precision in the Japanese parts resulted in cars running more smoothly and customers experiencing fewer issues. The Japanese commitment to Deming’s principles of quality control and continuous improvement led to superior product quality, customer satisfaction, and ultimately, their emergence as a dominant force in the global automotive industry. This example showcases the transformative power of Deming’s ideas and their real-world impact on industry and quality management[7].

Deming Prize

The Deming Prize is one of the most prestigious awards in the field of quality management and the Deming Prize is awarded to organizations and individuals who have made outstanding achievements in the advancement of quality and productivity in their operations [8].

https://www.toyota-global.com/company/history_of_toyota/75years/text/entering_the_automotive_business/chapter1/section1/item7.html

The Deming Prize was established in Japan in 1951 by the Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers (JUSE) to promote and recognize excellence in quality management. It was introduced as a way to acknowledge the impact of Deming’s teachings and philosophies on the Japanese industry during its post-World War II reconstruction and development [8].

https://www.toyota-global.com/company/history_of_toyota/75years/text/entering_the_automotive_business/chapter1/section1/item7.html

There are several categories for the Deming Prize [9]:

The Deming Prize for Individuals: This category recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the advancement of quality and productivity in their organizations.

The Deming Prize for Quality Control: This category is awarded to Japanese companies for their achievements in quality control and management practices.

The Deming Prize for Quality Control for Factory: This category recognizes factories or specific business units within organizations that have demonstrated excellence in quality control.

The Deming Prize for Quality Control for Factory (Overseas): Introduced in 2012, this category is for overseas factories or business units that have excelled in quality control.

Receiving the Deming Prize is a significant honor, and it indicates that an organization or individual has achieved a high level of quality management, continuous improvement, and customer satisfaction. The Deming Prize has become a symbol of excellence in quality management, and organizations worldwide seek to meet its rigorous criteria to demonstrate their commitment to quality and productivity.

Conclusion

https://aktiasolutions.com/management-3-0-demings-14-points-for-lean-management/

On World Quality Day, I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to the entire quality community. My sincere hope is that we can find inspiration in Deming’s legacy. Deming not only formulated quality as a strategic necessity with a mathematical model but also enthusiastically implemented this strategy, which played a vital role in the transformation of an industry that had survived the hardships of war, ultimately transforming it into a global power.

Resources

[1] W. Edwards Deming: The Father of Quality Management” — ASQ (American Society for Quality)

[2] “W. Edwards Deming” — The W. Edwards Deming Institute

[3] https://cio-wiki.org/wiki/Deming_Chain_Reaction

[4] https://aktiasolutions.com/management-3-0-demings-14-points-for-lean-management/

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._Edwards_Deming

[6] Ford Transmission Quality Study Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAfUOfSY-S0

[7] Aguayo, Rafael (1991). Dr. Deming: The American Who Taught the Japanese About Quality. Fireside. pp. 40–41.

[8] https://www.toyota-global.com/company/history_of_toyota/75years/text/entering_the_automotive_business/chapter1/section1/item7.html

[9] https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deming-Preis

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Dr. Çağrı ATASEVEN

Cagri Ataseven is ISTQB Certified Software Test Automation Engineer, Also, he has a Ph.D. in mathematics.

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