Four Days with Dr. Deming

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By John Hunter, author of the Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog.

W. Edwards Deming is remembered for many things; one of those touchstones was the Deming Four Day seminar. Those 4-day seminars changed the lives of many people. And many of those people went on to change their organizations and the lives of those working there.

Scott M. Paton wrote a short article on his experience, Four Days with W. Edwards Deming, while at GM.

At precisely 8:45 a.m. Deming began his lecture with a question. “Is it sufficient to have happy customers?” he asked in his characteristically deep, gravelly voice. “The customer never invented anything. The customer generates nothing. He takes what he gets.”

After the working group presentations, Deming began his lecture on the subject of theory. “If you don’t have a theory, you don’t have an experience,” he announced. “Without theory there is no observation; there is no experience.

He also talked about the role of the supervisor in an organization. He explained that a supervisor has two responsibilities: to assist those who need special help and to improve the system.

image of the cover of 4 Days with Dr. Deming

Make sure you read the rest of his article on The W. Edwards Deming Institute web site.

There is an excellent book presenting Deming’s ideas in the style of a seminar: Four Days with Dr. Deming: A Strategy for Modern Methods of Management.

Those who have attended Dr. Deming’s seminars in the past will find the book to be a refresher of what they experienced. It may even clarify a point that was obscure at the time of the seminar.

For those who have never attended Dr. DemingIs seminar, this book gives the flavor of such an experience. To make people feel the forces at work during the seminar, we use three voices – first is Dr. Deming, who usually introduces the topic. Where we feel that we can contribute to understanding, the authors act as the second voice. An imaginary seminar participant is voice number three.

Another way to more directly get a feel for the experience of a Deming 4-day seminar is with the Four-Day Seminar DVD Collection provides its viewers with a comprehensive exploration of the seminal theories and teachings of Dr. Deming in a corporate setting. It is comprised of twelve hours of Dr. Deming’s lectures and demonstrations given to an audience of more than five hundred managers at General Motors in 1992.

Do you have memories of attending a seminar? Please share your thoughts as comments on this post.

Related: Lessons From the Red Bead Experiment with Dr. DemingDeming 101 with Ian BradburyDeming Library Video with Dr. Deming Discussing the 14 Points

1 thought on “Four Days with Dr. Deming”

  1. “Personal transformation is discontinuous, sudden. Once transformed, one may thereupon work toward transformation of his own organization.” This was written by Dr. W. Edwards Deming in the Foreword to “Four Days with Dr. Deming” by Latzko and Saunders. (page xvii)

    NOTE: This line is quoted in an article for Quality Progress Magazine published by the American Society for Quality (ASQ) in a section called “Ask the Expert.” The article will be published sometime in 2023. A link is placed in the ASQ article that will bring readers to this page. The article focuses on 5T: Five Teams for Climate Action.

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