By John Hunter, author of the Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog (since 2004).
Joe Dager has posted, in his Business 901 podcast series, his discussion with Dr. Joyce Orsini, director of the Deming Scholars MBA program at Fordham University and president of The W. Edwards Deming Institute; and Kevin Cahill, the Executive Director of the Institute (and Dr. Deming’s grandson).
In the podcast, Dr. Edwards Deming: Still making a difference in 2013, Joyce and Kevin discuss her new book: The Essential Deming and Joyce discusses her experience working with Dr. Deming.
Joyce explained how Dr. Deming synthesized his lifetime of work into 4 fields of knowledge to form the System of Profound Knowledge: understanding people (psychology), statistical variation, the organization operating as a system, theory of knowledge.
Interestingly someone at one of his seminars asked, well Dr. Deming if I went out and got an expert in each of these four fields would I then have this profound knowledge that you are talking about? And after a little thought, Deming said “No, I’m afraid not. Because its not the individual fields that are profound, its their interaction which brings the essence” of what he is talking about – how these fields interact. And that is when he started calling it a system of profound knowledge.
Kevin discussed how in the flurry of activity after “If Japan Can’t, Why Can’t We” aired in 1980, many of those calling Dr. Deming were manufacturers. And Joyce mentioned that much of the terminology used often can lead people to think the ideas are geared toward manufacturing. But both discussed how the ideas apply to all types of organizations. Joyce also mentioned that Dr. Deming had many service clients (even 20 years ago). Another example of the ideas being applied outside manufacturing a long time ago is in Dr. Deming’s Out of the Crisis, which includes a section, written by my father, on applying Deming’s ideas in government (in a maintenance garage for the city of Madison, Wisconsin).
Kevin discussed the future plans of the Institute by continuing to help make a difference in people’s lives and efforts to expand the reach of the Institute. He mentioned that the Institute believes by exposing people to the theory of profound knowledge that will help people think differently and ask better questions and in that way allow the Institute to help them improve their lives.
Kevin discussed when he and his mother (Deming’s daughter) went to see Peter Drucker to learn the interaction between Deming and Drucker. Drucker recalled fondly their discussion of each of their ideas on management; where they agreed and where they disagreed. Joyce added that for a period of time Drucker and Deming were both teaching at New York University and they had a tremendous respect for each other and enjoyed exploring their ideas together. Joyce and Kevin agreed the two management experts enjoyed their discussions and had a collegial relationship.
Joyce related Dr. Deming’s response to a report’s question on how he would like to be remembered. Dr. Deming responded that he would “like to be remembered as someone to tried to prevent companies from committing suicide.”
One minor point (I mention just to avoid confusion by listeners), Joe Dager mentioned many of those that were attracted to Dr. Deming’s ideas were statisticians and for example – Joiner, Scholtes, Hunter (my father is who I assume he was thinking of) and Orsini were all statisticians. That is true for those people mentioned, except that Peter Scholtes was not a statistician.
Make sure you listen to the whole podcast as there is much more included in the podcast than I have captured above.
Related: Business 901 Podcast with John Hunter on the Application Dr. Deming’s Management Ideas Today –
Eliminate Sales Commissions: Reject Theory X Management and Embrace Systems Thinking