Managing in a quality way

Although criticized for not conveying the depth of his philosophies, the 14 points formulated by W. Edwards Deming are now the basis for most high-level U.S and Japanese companies. They provide managerial goals rather than managerial tools. Each point (condensed below) endeavors to build customer awareness, reduce variation, and nurture constant change and improvement throughout an organization. 1. Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service.

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What the customer’s needs are will drive a company’s evaluation of its processes, products and market to achieve success. Short-term reaction should be replaced with long-term planning. A new mission statement is developed, publicized, referred to and used to question company activity against. This at a process level requires the fine-tuning of every function in an organization to meet company strategy.

2. Adopt the new philosophy for economic stability. The customer’s right to expect quality must be the thrust of any long-term strategy and management must lead. Defects, mistakes, faulty materials and bad service must be eradicated, as they are costly. These costs are passed on to the customer. Brainstorming sessions can identify areas requiring attention and action implemented. Although in theory logical, companies rarely develop this point fully as it requires enormous amounts of change.

3. Cease reliance on mass inspection to achieve quality. Production line inspections merely correct the defects in the product and not the process producing it. Inspection in Deming’s concept required the spotting of defects from within the process by the workers themselves building quality into the product in the first place. Businesses could encourage workers to suggest improvements, without fear (see point 8), at regular management meetings.

4. End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price tags. Price has no meaning without a measure of the quality being purchased. Using a cheap supplier can only increase costs elsewhere. Companies should use a single supplier for any one item developing long-term loyalty and trust. It is not always practical to use a single supplier but Deming insists that the company work closely with suppliers in order improve the quality of its goods while reducing overall cost to the buyer.

5. Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service, to improve quality and productivity, and thus constantly decrease costs. In Deming’s view, quality “must be a part of the system, built in at the design stage,” and teamwork is fundamental to the process. Deming advocated the use of the Shewhart cycle, also known as the PDCA cycle (Plan-Do-Check-Act), as an approach to process analysis. This cycle inevitably leads to redesign and improvement.

6. Institute training on the job. It is essential to train as many members of the corporation as possible to recognize when a system is in danger of drifting out of control. Workers are often trained by other workers who themselves have received inadequate training. Businesses should endeavor to train all employees to a recognized standard thus reducing variation further. 7. Institute leadership. The aim of supervision should be to help people and machines and gadgets to do a better job.

In Deming’s view, the aim of leadership is to help people develop a better system. Leaders must understand the overall system and know how they and the groups they facilitate fit with the organizational aims. Businesses should train leaders to build trust and encourage everyone to improve, creating an environment where the workers can gain pride from their work 8. Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company. Management through fear impedes productivity and quality. Workers must feel unafraid to express ideas and ask questions otherwise they will simply do enough to meet minimal standards and not pursue quality. Workers questions arise from their desire to improve the process, which in turn improves the business. This culture should be nurtured.

9. Break down barriers between departments. Processes and departments must recognize themselves as only a part of the organization. Lack of communication between departments can cause loss of time and sales. They must communicate to ensure overall quality of the organization. Deming proposed the existence of quality teams within each department to combine relevant skills and resources to develop designs with improved quality. Businesses can name and chart processes and management can ensure communication.

10. Eliminate slogans, exhortation, and targets for the work force asking for zero defects and new levels of productivity. People don’t make the most mistakes, the processes they are working in do. Therefore the power to effect improvement lies not with the workforce but the management. With this in mind, slogans and targets are deemed by Deming to be targeting the wrong people and businesses should discourage the use of them.

11. Eliminate work standards (quotas) on the factory floor; Quotas and management by objective (MBO) interfere with quality, perhaps more than any working condition. They focus on the end goal rather than the processes involved. This offers little opportunity to improve, as the process remains the same as long as the quotas are met. Businesses should realize that reliance on production targets results in poor quality.

12. Remove barriers that rob hourly employees, management, and engineering of their right to pride of workmanship. Employees are denied their pride of workmanship through various management shortcomings and lack of focus on the human processes. He suggests abolishing merit and rating systems as they promote competitiveness between individuals or departments and detract from company strategy. Businesses should develop predictable processes where over time most employees will perform at about the same level.

13. Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement. Point 6 demands that businesses train staff to achieve a foundation of common knowledge. Point 13 encourages individual training and education, often in new subjects, to ultimately improve processes. Businesses should meet this obligation to make sure the individual is given meaningful work and training which promotes pride in their work, often linked to self-improvement.

14. Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everybody’s job. The first milestone towards achieving a quality culture is that the employees understand the 14 points and become active in the transformation. Businesses are built of processes. Only by analyzing and understanding each process can it, and ultimately the business, be improved.