The Deming 14 Points

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.


W. Edwards Deming worked as a statistician during and after World War II. He developed a series of broad concepts of management striving for better efficiency. His mantra was "Zero Defects", that no matter what the price, something made correctly was the cheapest way overall to manufacture something. It is said that his ideas did not go over very well with American businesses, particularly, the auto business where he was working. They decided to get rid of him. In 1947 he was sent to Japan as a part of the American Occupation Forces.

He taught Japanese businessmen his theories, summed up in these 14 points. Two of his students went on to found Toyota and Honda. Today, the Deming prize is Japan's highest engineering honor.

Condensation of the 14 Points for Management

The following is excerpted from Chapter 2 of Out of the Crisis by W. Edwards Deming:

The 14 points for management (Out of the Crisis, Ch.2) in industry, education and government follow naturally as application of this outside knowledge, for transformation from the present Western style of management to one of optimization.

Origin of the 14 points.

The 14 points are the basis for transformation of American industry. It will not suffice merely to solve problems, big or little. Adoption and action on the 14 points are a signal that the management intend to stay in business and aim to protect investors and jobs. Such a system formed the basis for lessons for top management in Japan in 1950 and in subsequent years (see pp. 1-6 and the Appendix).

The 14 points apply anywhere, to small organizations as well as to large ones, to the service industry as well as to manufacturing. They apply to a division within a company.

The 14 points.

  1. Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service, with the aim to become competitive and to stay in business, and to provide jobs.
  2. Adopt the new philosophy. We are in a new economic age. Western management must awaken to the challenge, must learn their responsibilities, and take on leadership for change.
  3. Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality. Eliminate the need for inspection on a mass basis by building quality into the product in the first place.
  4. End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price tag. Instead, minimize total cost. Move toward a single supplier for any one item, on a long-term relationship of loyalty and trust.
  5. Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service, to improve quality and productivity, and thus constantly decrease costs.
  6. Institute training on the job.
  7. Institute leadership (see Point 12 and Ch. 8). The aim of supervision should be to help people and machines and gadgets to do a better job. Supervision of management is in need of overhaul, as well as supervision of production workers.
  8. Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company (see Ch. 3).
  9. Break down barriers between departments. People in research, design, sales, and production must work as a team, to foresee problems of production and in use that may be encountered with the product or service.
  10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the work force asking for zero defects and new levels of productivity. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships, as the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the system and thus lie beyond the power of the work force.

    Eliminate work standards (quotas) on the factory floor. Substitute leadership.

    Eliminate management by objective. Eliminate management by numbers, numerical goals. Substitute leadership.
  11. Remove barriers that rob the hourly worker of his right to pride of workmanship. The responsibility of supervisors must be changed from sheer numbers to quality.
  12. Remove barriers that rob people in management and in engineering of their right to pride of workmanship. This means, inter alia, abolishment of the annual or merit rating and of management by objective (see Ch. 3).
  13. Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement.
  14. Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everybody's job.