Building a Sustainable Organization Using Deming’s Ideas on Management

By John Hunter, founder of

The linked to article that aims to provides an overview of the essence of Deming’s approach to management and its continuing relevance to managers: The Model of Sustainable Organisation by Alan Clark.

A manager, said Deming, is primarily a manager of People. This is in line with many thinkers, teachers and writers on organisations and management including Douglas McGregor, Frederick Herzberg and William Ouchi. People, given respect, the context and freedom to contribute, make the difference in achieving enduring organisational success. More radically he said management should ensure joy in work and in learning for everyone!

Properly understanding the needs of the customer should lead on to innovation. Deming is often misrepresented as promoting only continual improvement of products and processes. Time and again he emphasises the need for innovation, which is absolutely the responsibility of the supplier or provider.

Deming recognised the importance of viewing any organisation as a whole. The people and parts of the system are all important and work together. His flow diagram shows the integration of all parts of an organisation. The critical feature of the flow diagram is that it models a feedback system that continually adapts the outcomes to keep them in line with customer needs. It is management’s job to Optimise the System with everyone’s help.

The paper includes a set of questions at the end to ask yourself about your organization.

Related: Respect for Employees, Don’t Waste the Ability of PeopleKnowing How to Manage People Is the Single Most Important Part of ManagementDr. Deming Video: Managing the Organization as a System

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