Improving the Management System with an Understanding of Deming

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Guest post by John Hunter, founder of

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In his presentation at the 2015 Deming Research Seminar Joseph Schneider discusses his efforts to apply Deming’s ideas within Siemens.

Joseph talks about how they worked to use Deming’s ideas even though much of the management system was not within their control (so they had to accept the system had aspects that fight against creating the ideal management system). This is useful as this is true for nearly every (every one that I know of) attempt to apply Deming’s ideas on management.

There will be existing conditions that must be accounted for in every organization. Within that reality we must adopt strategies that achieve successes today and build the capability of the management system over time.

Joseph explains the efforts to improve and the results of those efforts. And he explains the ties to Deming’s ideas that lead him to pursue the strategies he chose. He organized PDSA projects that included participation from many different internal departments to address reliability issues with a particular product line.

We also introduced the voice of the customer into this PDSA workshop. We brought customers in who used to buy from us and these people didn’t really have a lot of connection with customers but they heard first hand how much these customers valued the products that we made, but they just had to go somewhere else because they never knew when they were going to get them.

As I have written before, gaining a deep appreciation for the customer needs, problems and desires is very important. That understanding needs to drive behavior in the organization. Too often organizations seek to achieve numbers in order to satisfy targets and do damage to the organization.

Process flow charts were key to the success of the second example he discussed. I believe process flow charts are very under used and even those making attempts to apply Deming’s ideas would benefit from greatly increasing the use of process flow charts to aid their continual improvement efforts.

Related: Application and Lessons of Deming’s Perspective on LeadershipEliminating Sales Commissions at Air Force OneDeming’s Ideas Applied at Intermountain Healthcare Since 1988

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