Gipsie Ranney

By John Hunter, author of Management Matters: Building Enterprise Capability.

Sadly, we have to announce the passing of our dear friend Gipsie Ranney on March 7th. Gipsie Ann Bush Ranney was born in Kingsport, Tennessee to Raymond and Lola Bush. Gipsie is survived by four cousins; Anna Kate Barnes, Dwight Campbell, Rita Marcum Denton and Thelma Marium Smith. She obtained a bachelors degree in Mathematics from Duke University and Masters and Ph.D. In Statistics from North Carolina State University.

photo of Gipsie Ranney
Gipsie Ranney

Gipsie was a student and close colleague of Dr. W. Edwards Deming. She spent decades advocating Deming’s philosophy and helping people across the world with its application. Gipsie loved to travel to experience diverse cultures and history, taking many trips to Europe, Africa and Asia. She was a lifelong learner and read voraciously. How many bookshelves have Marx and Mao next to Hajek and Friedman, the Bible next to the Quran and Richard Dawkins? Gipsie enriched so many lives and will be deeply missed.

Gipsie Ranney was the first president of The W. Edwards Deming Institute®. A resident of Brentwood, Tennessee and an avid supporter of the Nashville Symphony, Gipsie was an international consultant to organizations on management, quality improvement and statistical methodology. She co-authored Beyond Total Quality Management: Toward the Emerging Paradigm, and also contributed to Competing Globally Through Customer Value.

In appreciation of her “outstanding contribution in advancing the theory and practice of statistical thinking to the management of enterprises worldwide,” the American Society for Quality awarded her the Deming Medal for 1996.

In addition to an extensive international consulting career, Gipsie served as Director of Statistical Methodology for General Motors Powertrain Group from 1988 to 1992 ​ (helping implement Deming’s ideas at GM)​, following 15 years as a member of the faculty of the Department of Statistics at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. While there, she co-founded of the University of Tennessee’s Institute for Productivity through Quality, and she developed and conducted numerous seminars on quality improvement. She finished her teaching career with a few years at Belmont University in Nashville before retiring.

Gipsie was someone I very much enjoyed talking to at the early Deming Institute conferences. She had a sharp mind and sharp wit; reminiscent of Dr. Deming in many ways.

I also enjoyed her appreciation for my father’s work (they were both statisticians). It was not the first time people’s connection to my father ​helped me start a friendship​. It was enjoyable to talk to someone that understood Deming’s ideas deeply and also understood the importance of applying these ideas in the workplace to improve people’s lives.

Neither of us were afraid to voice frustration as the resistance to improvement inside many organizations. She used that frustration to reinforce her commitment to helping bring about transformation. We all benefit from the work Gipsie did and the influence she had on many of those who are influencing the application of Deming’s ideas today.

We also benefit from her example of expanding one’s horizon in interpreting Dr. Deming’s theory of management. While trained as a statistician, Gipsie spoke and wrote on topics ranging from environmental sustainability to the trouble with incentives (“they work”), to legitimacy and fairness in organizations, to the question of “What world are we in?” and “Transformation – You Can’t Just Do One Thing.”

Related: Improving Problem SolvingGipsie Ranney and Don Petersen reflect on Dr. Deming’s Legacy (video)Remembering NummiPeter Scholtes

1 thought on “Gipsie Ranney”

  1. As a former student, I owe Gipsie a great deal. With her signature sharp wit, she caught my attention and promptly poured a 5 gallon draught of Deming/Ranney wisdom into my 1 gallon brain. It took me years to fully appreciate how she changed my point of view about organizational management & quality. She was a friend and the only professor I sought out for years after completing my MBA studies. I took every class she taught because she was pure fire and wisdom. I pity the thousands of students who won’t have the privilege to be taught by my friend. (I still hear her quality track about GM every time I even consider buying one of their vehicles… LOL). She was my most influential mentor and friend. I’ll miss her, but she’s fresh in my mind always. -MG

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