Quality management is a subject that is close to the heart of any business owner and manager. Whatever business we do, we want to do it well – and if we can be the best out of all our competitors, the better. Dr. W. Edwards Deming, a respected academic, engineer, business consultant and author, also believed that quality was the key to success. He suggested what is now known as Deming’s 14 points.
- Create constancy of purpose: towards product and service improvement Deming believed that remaining competitive on the market required ‘constancy of purpose’ towards quality. He saw it not as a short-term commitment or a luxury, but as a long-term philosophy that would ensure business survival. When considering Deming’s 14 points, it is important to remember that this one is planning for a long-term of delivering the quality.
- Adopt the New Philosophy; Producing quality requires more than just lip service. Constancy of purpose must be supported by a buy-in to quality that goes right through the organization. This requires more than traditional management. It needs to be led. This means that staff should be inspired to enhance quality rather than being forced to do so.
In other words, Deming’s 14 points promote the building of a culture of quality with the commitment of every person in your business. At the time, Deming predicted that moving from a traditional management focus to a leadership focus would change the way we do business. It was back in 1982. Today, we see that the truth of his prediction is taking shape in the business world.
- Cease dependence on general inspections to achieve quality: You Can’t Inspect It In Deming wasn’t impressed by the idea of post-fact quality control. He encouraged businesses to stop, depending on the inspection, in order to obtain quality. He pointed out that inspections may miss defects, that they are costly, and that they do not improve quality, because all they can do is find poor quality.Instead, he suggested building quality in every process a business undertakes. Finding faults can avoid harm to a business, but it’s not good enough. Instead, we should track them down and change processes so that similar faults can never happen again.
- Minimize total cost: Use Single Suppliers for Any Item, How often have you heard that a supplier is responsible for poor quality? You may have experienced it yourself. You found a cheaper supplier just to find that the quality or reliability of the materials or services you received was lacking. You can blame your suppliers for everything you like, but at the end of the day, the reputation of your business suffers.
- Improve constantly and forever: Improve them forever In this respect, Deming encourages businesses to continuously analyze and improve the way in which they conduct processes. He points out that by improving productivity and training its employees so that they can deliver their best, the business also improves profits.
Back in the 1980s, it would have been very difficult for businesses, especially small ones, to keep tabs on every process. Business Process Management software makes your task much easier today. And when you need to tweak a process, it’s as simple as editing the business process you set up. The workflow adjusts to the change automatically
- Institute training on the job: As business people, we are inclined to consider training to be costly. Apart from the cost of sending people to the courses, the productive time is lost while they’re coming back. And unless you choose the training carefully, you’re not necessarily going to get tangible results.
- Institute leadership: Use Leadership Skills, According to Deming, managers and supervisors should focus on leadership rather than the traditional style of management that calls for tight supervision and a very formal organizational structure.
- Drive Out Fear: There were probably times when you had questions that you were too scared to ask, and you kept your own opinions. And the more the boss or the teacher reacted to your mistakes, the more mistakes you made. Then you would try to cover up those mistakes, hoping against hope that they wouldn’t be picked up. That’s exactly what fear does. Fear is not good for quality.
- Break down the barriers between departments: When people work as a team, they can achieve more than they can do on their own. Although your company will have departments, they can not work in isolation. If product designers don’t work with production, and production doesn’t work with sales, your organization will never reach its potential.
True, your designer is not about to become a salesperson, but without input from the product designer, your salesperson will not be able to sell effectively.
- Eliminate slogans, exhortations and targets for the workforce:Ditch Slogans and Communicate With Individual : Slogans sound so nifty, but do they have any real effect? ‘We put the customer first’ is a typical example of this. It sounds great, but what’s the practical meaning of it? How does this apply to every worker in your internal value chain?
Deming is alive to the resentment that can be caused by generalized catch-phrases and exhortations to ever better performance. He points out that any productivity or quality problems you face will not be fixed by a slogan. Instead, you need to look at improving the business process. If your processes are working well, your business is already delivering good quality and working productively.
- Eliminate numerical quotas for the workforce and numerical goals for management: rue that you need to have some numerical targets, but for too many companies, setting quotas is a substitute for good leadership. According to Deming, high production targets make quality suffer. For example, if you’re a production line worker and you get paid per piece, you’ll finish as many pieces as you can.
- Remove barriers that rob people of pride of workmanship: Deming believes that taking pride in one’s work is essential to quality and process improvement. You’ve probably experienced it yourself. If you love what you’re doing, you’re doing it better, and you feel good about the results. But if people constantly criticize you and compare you to others, you stop enjoying what you previously loved.
- Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement: While Deming first talks about on-the-job training, he also advocates personal growth through continuing education. When people learn things that are relevant to their jobs or your business, their skills will improve and they will be better able to face the challenges that your business faces in both the present and the future.
- Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation:Dr. Deming points out that if you want to improve quality or productivity, you need to look at your systems rather than your people. But when it comes to finding solutions, he advocates getting as much input as possible from the people who are carrying out the process.
Deming doesn’t go into detail about how to effect change, but his philosophies have had a profound influence on the world of business. From a practical perspective, using Deming’s 14 points as an overarching philosophy will result in change – and it will be a change for the better.