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Deming Today explores how the theories and teachings of Dr. Deming are currently being put into practice by organizations in the US and around the world. What are their transformative experiences like? What challenges did they face along the way? What can a path of continual improvement lead to for a business, nonprofit, school, or government agency? Evolutionary or revolutionary, the stories, articles and blogs presented in Deming Today provide examples to inspire and encourage you and your organization to take the bold and often courageous steps in embracing and applying the Deming philosophy in your business or organization.

Psychology in the System of Profound Knowledge

Many only recall Dr. Deming’s thoughts on using data to improve and think that his ideas were limited to this area. Dr. Deming however, understood that when managing organizations of people, that those people are fundamental to any attempt to improve. People are the source of value. People are what allow the organization to continually improve. The people in the organization are what will make it successful.

Acknowledging the human nature of the people in organizations is fundamental to Deming’s System of Profound Knowledge. I am not sure why this is so often ignored. Toyota understood: making respect for people one of the two pillars of the Toyota Production System (also known as lean manufacturing).

Continue reading our original blog post: Psychology – Managing Human Systems.

The Theory of Knowledge in Deming's Management System

“The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance – it is the illusion of knowledge.” – Daniel J. Boorstin

What do we know that isn’t so? How can we avoid the mistakes we are in danger of making in our thinking? How can we improve the learning process?
These are some of the questions that led Dr. Deming to include the “theory of knowledge” in the System Of Profound Knowledge.

While many of his ideas have found their way into other management theories (focus on the customer, variation, systems thinking, innovation, continual improvement, data based decision making, the importance of psychology…) you rarely hear about the importance of understanding how people think, and act, based on what they believe they know to be true. That is core to a theory of knowledge.

Continue reading our original blog post on Theory of Knowledge in the Deming context.

Deming’s System of Profound Knowledge

image of cover of Deming Starter Library videos

The System Of Profound Knowledge® (SoPK) is the culmination of W. Edwards Deming’s lifelong work. The SoPK ties together Dr. Deming’s seminal theories and teachings on quality, management and leadership into four interrelated areas: appreciation for a system, knowledge of variation, theory of knowledge and psychology.

Continue reading our blog post on Dr. Deming’s System of Profound Knowledge.

Deming Chain Reaction

image of Deming's chain reaction - improve quality, decrease costs, gain sales, add jobsThe prevailing action during the crisis Dr. Deming alluded to in the title of his books was to cut costs to improve profits. Massive layoffs of employees would get executives big bonuses and send stock prices up. Sadly focusing on cost cutting and layoffs is too often still the way some executives think.

Continue reading our original blog post on the Deming Chain Reaction.

Dr. W. Edwards Deming - 7 Deadly Diseases of Western Management

Dr. Deming added 2 diseases to the lists after this video. He was always learning and updating his thoughts and recommendations. As we have stated earlier, this blog attempts to continue that practice by examining Dr. Deming’s ideas and also looking at how those ideas have evolved as they have been applied.

Continue reading the original post on our blog

Dr. Deming on Innovation

cover image for The New EconomicsDr. Deming understood the importance of innovation and creativity. His management system emphasized the importance of focusing on these areas. His thoughts on that importance was not hidden away, it was at the core of what he taught. For example, on page 10 of the New Economics:

The moral is that it is necessary to innovate, to predict needs of the customer, give him more. He that innovates and is lucky will take the market.

No defects, no jobs. Absence of defects does not necessarily build business… Something more is required.

continue reading our second blog post: Dr. Deming on Innovation

The Learning Cycle: PDCA vs PDSA

Watch this short video from Jamie Flinchbaugh

Read more about the PDSA Learning cycle from Ian Bradbury and read about the history and evolution of the PDSA cycle.  As Jamie mentions the PDSA cycle has become the foundation of continual improvement for many different flavors of management improvement efforts.  

Taking the time to get the most out of using the PDSA cycle to learn and improve is important.  We often touch on aspects of how to use the PDSA cycle most effectively on our blog.

Find resources for using the PDSA cycle to improve results.

The First Post on The Deming Institute Blog

Excerpt from the first post on The W. Edwards Deming Institute Blog

Dr. Deming’s personal aim was to advance commerce, prosperity and peace. This is a lofty goal and provides insight into his motives.

I, John Hunter, will be writing and editing this blog. In doing so, I will be trying to explore Deming’s ideas through his work and through the application of his ideas in organizations. My opinions will influence what I write. My goal is to stay true to his ideas and thoughts while also seeing how those ideas have been applied, interpreted and extended by others.

Dr. Deming kept learning and modifying his management philosophy throughout his life. He continued to learn and travel to present seminars until weeks before he died at the age of 93. In my view the drive that kept him going was his commitment to his aim.

To many of us today that aim may seem lofty and disconnected from our day to day lives. Dr. Deming was born in 1900 in Sioux City, Iowa. He lived through World War I. He lived through the depression. He lived through World War II. He was asked to go to Japan to aid in the recovery efforts. In my, opinion, if you live through those conditions and are a systems thinker it is very easy to understand the enormous hardship people face when commerce fails to provide prosperity and the devastating tragedy of war is made so real.

Integrating Strategy and Execution

Excerpt from Wanted: Ambidextrous Leaders by Art Kleiner

It was tempting to think of Deming as just another execution guy. His background was in statistical process control, and he was very comfortable on the shop floor. But his subject was the nexus point between strategy and execution, and he believed that the caliber of a company’s operations should affect its leaders’ business decisions. Unless a company could combine strategy and execution in a meaningful way, it would be vulnerable to upstart competitors who did.

Clayton Christensen’s Theory of Jobs to be Done

See our blog post exploring Clayton Christensen’s Theory of Jobs to be Done

Competing Against Luck

In Clayton Christensen’s new book, Competing Against Luck, the authors delve into the importance of gaining a deep understanding of what your customers desire. The book lays out a Theory of Jobs to be Done in a very compelling way. To me this is a great example of extending Deming’s ideas with a great deal of useful content on how to effectively become more customer focused.


The understanding of the complex needs of customers and the importance of managing the organization as a system to consistently delight customers is integrated throughout the book (and Clayton Christensen’s other work).