By John Hunter, author of Management Matters: Building Enterprise Capability.
The W. Edwards Deming Institute is proud to announce our first blog. The aim of The W. Edwards Deming Institute® is to foster understanding of The Deming System of Profound Knowledge™ to advance commerce, prosperity and peace. With the blog we aim to further the aim of the institute.
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. In doing so, 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. It may be hard for people with indoor plumbing, heating, air conditioning, safety, security and a fairly strong economy to appreciate how difficult life can be without prosperity. But I think it is much easier for someone who has lived through 2 world wars, a depression and then spends a great deal of time in post war Japan to understand this importance.
I didn’t live through those events, but I also can see that importance. I lived in Singapore and Nigeria as a child. And I traveled quite a bit and was able to see that there were billions of people on the earth that more than anything struggle to get food, clean water and electricity. To me the importance of advancing commerce, prosperity and peace was easy to see and when I first saw his aim it struck me. It took a few more years to appreciate how the aim is made real and moved forward by his ideas.
Most of the posts will be on much more focused management ideas. But I think this is an appropriate beginning to the exploration of these ideas. He had many specific thoughts on topics managers face everyday. Those ideas were part of a system. And that system had, at the core, making the world a better place for us to live in.
It may be hard to appreciate why this matters. And you can make progress without appreciating this idea at first. But you can learn how to adopt Deming’s ideas for management much more quickly and effectively when you understand that the ideas exist within a context that puts respect for people at the core. If respect for people is missing, that means something is missing in the understanding or application of the ideas.