Deming Podcast with Scott Dalgleish, CEO at Phase IV Engineering

By John Hunter, founder of

photo of Scott Dalgleish
Scott Dalgleish

Scott Dalgleish is the CEO at Phase IV Engineering

Scott first encountered Deming’s ideas while an engineer at Proctor & Gamble in 1986.

Deming training was rolled out to us. I thought it was a really wonderful thing. It provided some very innovative and realistic solutions to solve a lot of problems in the plant.

I was very enthusiastic to give it a try and saw it work. And I still have that enthusiasm for his teachings and a lot of the methods that were taught.

He mentions that after providing great training Proctor & Gamble’s management system was very reluctant to adopt the better management methods. This is a fairly common situation, that I find bizarre, but I have learned to understand is not unusual. He was frustrated at not being able to apply the ideas he had learned and so moved on within 3 years to move to a smaller company. He taught the Deming principles to his new company and they were readily embraced.

Scott expresses his belief that the primary reason for the resistance seen in many companies to Deming’s ideas are that those in leadership positions are most concerned about maintaining what they have. And the safe play for them is to not take chances. They are more interested in avoiding mistakes that could cost them the position they spent 20 years achieving than seeking out improvements. Russell Ackoff talked about how the decisions executives make are often explained much more easily by those executives looking out for their personal interests than if assume they are acting based on what is best for the organization.

Phase IV Engineering’s quality policy:

We Care.

Management has two primary Quality System responsibilities:

  1. Maintain a staff of people that are highly-qualified and genuinely care.
  2. Maintain an environment where people that genuinely care will thrive and have a high degree of pride in workmanship.

When people care – quality products, efficient processes, happy customers, and a
really good place to work will naturally follow – with or without quality system

Scott also talked about hiring:

I ask them 2 questions during the interview. Tell me something you took apart or built as a child? What engineering projects do you have going on at home right now. I could care less what their GPA is.

I used to work at an organization where we asked a very similar question but in our case for software developers (I wrote about that team in: Building a Great Software Development Team). It doesn’t work for all jobs but for jobs where personal passion for the work is a strong indicator of how people will be able to contribute this is a very good strategy.

I believe these thoughts from Dee Hock on hiring provide great insight:

Hire and promote first on the basis of integrity; second, motivation; third, capacity; fourth, understanding; fifth, knowledge; and last and least, experience.

Scott closes with an explanation of how damaging he thinks ISO standards are. Phase IV Engineering does not seek ISO certifications and instead focuses on creating a management system based on Deming’s ideas that supports innovation of values people.

Related: Deming Podcast with Fred Wambier and Kelly Allan On Applying Deming’s Ideas at Finishing TechnologyPaula Marshall’s Presentation at Our 2015 Conference on Using Deming’s Ideas at The Bama CompaniesDeming Podcast with Dick Steele, Chairman of Peaker Services

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