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Dr. W. Edwards Deming is known as the father of the Japanese post-war industrial revival and was regarded by many as the leading quality guru in the United States. He passed on in 1993.
Trained as a statistician, his expertise was used during World War II to assist the United States in its effort to improve the quality of war materials.
He was invited to Japan at the end of World War II by Japanese industrial leaders and engineers. They asked Dr. Deming how long it would take to shift the perception of the world from the existing paradigm that Japan produced cheap, shoddy imitations to one of producing innovative quality products.
What are Dr. Demings 14 Points?
Constancy of purpose
This is a great point to start with because ISO/FDIS 9001 has adopted the Annex SL summary for understanding and defining the context of an organization. This has become the cornerstone of the 2015 version of the standard, requiring organizations to understand the business environment in which they operate, the issues related to that environment, and drivers originating from stakeholders. This understanding of a business environment and how it interacts and drives the management system is an important evolutionary step for the ISO 9001 standard. It is also a critical consideration when ensuring that an organization achieves a constancy of purpose. Constancy of purpose is a theme that Deming used throughout his life. What I find interesting is his choice of the word constancy instead of the more commonly used consistency or continual. Collins English dictionary defines constancy as “the quality of having a resolute mind, purpose, or affection; steadfastness. Similarly, it defines consistency as agreement or accordance with facts, form, or characteristics previously shown or stated.”
To paraphrase, consistency is associated with meeting a set of predetermined conditions, whereas constancy is about picking a course of action and sticking with it no matter what. So it would seem that Deming was not trying to advocate merely meeting the requirements of the purpose, which in this case is to improve the product or service being delivered, but to remain resolute to this purpose no matter what.
Obviously, the requirements of ISO 9001:2015 will be by no means this prescriptive, but the connection to business planning and business objectives does create a set of common goals. When you consider that these goals are also the product of a risk identification and mitigation plan, this should instill within companies a constancy of purpose based on understanding the business context and analysing the risks associated with it.
The new philosophy
Deming saw the new philosophy as cooperation, and whether it is between customers, suppliers, or employees, it is at the very heart of transformational management. A team is larger than the sum of its parts, and a number of individuals all pulling the same rope in different directions is an expensive luxury that 21st-century industry can no longer afford. But philosophical change can only happen from the top down; it must be a rallying cry that all tiers of the company flock to. It is a cultural shift that can be difficult to obtain or quantify.
Cooperation involves the entire workforce led by a management team committed to change. Internal politics and personal agendas are the enemies of this process. Deming understood the inherent desire in every one of us to succeed. He also understood that given the right tools, training, and motivation, people would succeed. Although philosophically this point is critical in achieving sustained success, it is also very hard to put into a standard or set of requirements. Like its predecessor, ISO/DIS 9001 emphasizes that companies should determine resource needs and should ensure the competence of individuals. The revised standard acknowledges the need for cooperation when it states that top management shall demonstrate leadership and commitment, and that this shall include engaging personnel. But this is far from the new philosophy approach that Deming seems to have been advocating. Interestingly ISO/FDIS 9001 does include a new Annex A, which does speak to the newly defined Seven Quality Management Principles that are meant to underpin the requirements detailed in the standard. Two of these, engagement of people and relationship management, do speak more to the new philosophy concept, but it is difficult to see how the standard has applied these principles to the actual requirements, especially with regards to supplier cooperation.
Cease dependence on mass inspection
This point is probably the most addressed of any within ISO/FDIS 9001. Reducing variation and establishing process control is and has been a fundamental concept of this family of standards for many years. The nature of this point makes it quantifiable and, hence, easy to communicate and implement. Take that in conjunction with a solid return on investment, and it becomes clear why this point has been so readily adopted. However, we must bear in mind the historical context in which the 14 points were created. Much of Deming experience was gained during a post-war era where quality was determined to be inspection. During that period, especially in U.S. industry, manufacturing muscle was dominant, true competition both domestically and internationally was still in its infancy, and the drive to improve product quality was not as intense.
End lowest tender contracts
ISO/FDIS 9001 is understandably reticent when it comes to mandating the need for relationship- based purchasing decisions. However a consideration of the risk associated with adopting new suppliers should have been determined as part of the review of internal and external issues and determination of interested parties. The standard does require companies to establish and apply criteria for evaluating and selecting suppliers, but this evaluation is limited to suppliers ability to meet specified requirements, such as product quality and delivery. There is no cost component. Which brings us nicely to what we believe is one of the critical failings of ISO/FDIS 9001. The context of the organization is truly about business planning, which must encompass all aspects of a business—from resources, to financials, to customer relations, to name but a few. However, the clauses within the FDIS that are designed to deploy this business planning process limit themselves to being purely quality in nature. Now, ISO/FDIS 9001:2015 is a quality management system standard, and as such is limited to a scope related to quality, which at this point is not an easy concept to define. But it is clear that, over time, a dichotomy will develop where an organization defines its business goals and objectives in accordance with the Standard, but the requirements of the individual clauses fail to facilitate their deployment. Demings point about not awarding business based on price alone is probably more valid today than it is ever been. With the rise in low-cost manufacturing that we have witnessed over the past few decades, many companies have switched suppliers based upon a perceived cost saving. Indeed to have not done this, in many industries would have been catastrophic for the organizations involved. The quality of these new suppliers will be evaluated and fed back to hopefully influence the purchasing process in accordance with the requirements of the standard.
However there are no specific requirements of the purchasing planning process for the change of suppliers to consider concepts such as total life cycle cost of a purchased part as opposed to purchased cost and the status of existing supplier relationships. It is also interesting to note that there is no specific requirement to conduct supplier development, which is often an important component of building supplier relationships.
Improve every process
Point five feels very familiar to anyone who has worked in or around quality management systems during the last 20 years. The rallying cry of continuous and then continual improvement in every part of the business has been a constant companion over these many years. We can still see this as of paramount importance throughout the standard, so much so that it gets its own Improvement clause. This concept of continual self-evaluation through audits and data analysis has become ingrained in most organizations and indeed the standard itself.
Institute training on the job
Reference to skills has fallen out of favor in modern parlance, but the fact that Deming emphasized that training itself does not constitute skills is an important distinction. I believe this reflects and most likely influenced a change that industry underwent 10 or 15 years ago, when there was a realization that trained did not mean competent. Competence may be a product of training, but it is not always a one-to-one relationship. I think this is the same challenge that Deming encountered when he created this point. Managers must realize that it is their responsibility not just to provide training for employees, but also to assist them to gain the skills they need to excel in their roles. ISO/FDIS 9001 addresses this requirement in a number of ways, from the need to determine required competency, ensure that individuals meet these requirements, and where not to take action to address this gap.
The criticality of leadership was not lost on Deming. Indeed, he referenced it often in his writing and lectures, and arguably half of his 14 points focus directly on how an organization leadership should demonstrate and carry out this leadership. It is also no secret that Deming believed weak leadership focus on profits and bottom lines was destroying U.S. manufacturing, and that a wholesale instead on enabling individuals to succeed. As with previous points, these that are more philosophical in nature are harder to deploy in a standard because they are so difficult to quantify. That being said, Leadership, the second quality management principle in Annex A of ISO/FDIS 9001, states that “Leaders at all levels establish unity of purpose and direction, and create conditions in which people are engaged in achieving the quality objectives of the organization. Although limiting itself to quality objectives, this still supports much of the essence of what Deming was trying to convey. Additionally, this principle is deployed via an entire clause in the FDIS, and details requirements for top management to demonstrate leadership and commitment.
Drive out fear
The creation of a culture of mutual respect and trust is a goal for many organizations that one has been involved in. But oftentimes these initiatives are nothing more than a motto that is repeated in the hope that eventually it will become practice. It takes a lot more than words to develop trust; it takes consistent and demonstrable support over a prolonged period of time. ISO/DIS 9001 clause 5.1—Leadership and commitment provides many of the actions that would support the creation of this culture. But unless the management team philosophically adopts the concept of driving out fear, then these are just words that do not represent any cultural shift. The leadership and commitment clause does require top management to provide support to employees and managers and to promote continuous improvement, however, it does not establish how this support is to be provided.
Break down barriers
Abolish competition and build a win-win system of cooperation within the organization. In current business language we would refer to this as a multidisciplinary approach to project management. The field of quality management has made great strides since these 14 points were originally published, primarily through the use of tools like advanced product quality planning (APQP) and methods from the Toyota Production System (TPS). The concept of a multidisciplinary approach to project management is now deeply integrated into many large companies. However, ISO/DIS 9001 is a little less than prescriptive in its requirements for this activity. Design planning requires the consideration of responsibilities, authorities, and the control of interfaces between individuals. Similarly, design inputs require the determination of internal and external resources needed for a given design project. However, it falls short of requiring any specific team composition, inter-department cooperation, or a team approach to problem solving.
This point is extremely specific and reinforces Deming-belief that a vast majority of issues encountered on a day-to-day basis are the fault of the system (i.e., management) and not the individual worker performing the operation. Merely creating targets will not fix a broken process. In fact, these targets for production improvement can have the opposite effect if they result in demotivated employees. ISO/DIS 9001 does not address internal communication methodology to this level. It merely requires that organizations determine what will be communicated to whom, when, and how.
Eliminate arbitrary numerical targets
This point is probably the one that is at most odds with ISO/DIS 9001 requirements. The selection and flow-down of quality objectives and their deployment at all levels of the organization are referenced throughout the standard during the planning, implementation, and analysis and monitoring phases. Deming believed in the concept of leadership and in the application of psychology to win the hearts and minds of employees to develop within them an emotional investment in the success of the organization. Building a relationship embraced by both parties helps each enjoy the successes that this relationship brings. To achieve this, top management needs to demonstrate trust in their employees to make the right decisions and go the extra yard for the company. In turn, top management does not need to monitor every employee action, relying upon their motivation to ensure that targets will be reached or exceeded. Once again, philosophically this is a sound approach and should result in the establishment of some long-term, mutually beneficial relationships. However it is extremely difficult to quantify to what degree this has been achieved, as it requires a cultural shift away from management by objectives into the more challenging analyses and interpretations found in relationship management.
Permit pride of workmanship
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.
ISO/DIS 9001 doesnot get down to the granularity of annual ratings and merit systems, as this specific point that Deming is trying to make, which is really a subset of the points associated with driving out fear and the removal of numerical targets. Interestingly, there is no specific requirement within ISO/DIS 9001 to ensure that employees are motivated or empowered. Although the removal of barriers that rob people of joy in their work is a wider concept than purely motivating and empowering employees, it is often a first step in achieving this goal.
ISO/DIS 9001 requires that companies define the competence criteria for all persons affecting the quality performance of the company. It then goes on to require that steps be taken to ascertain whether this criteria has been fulfilled, and if not, to take steps to achieve this. However, the need to acquire competence beyond the scope of quality performance is not really addressed within the DIS.
Top management commitment and action
The concept of companywide involvement in continuous improvement is addressed in various areas of ISO/DIS 9001. It is a requirement for leadership to promote this concept, for the quality policy to commit to it, for the company to provide the resources for its achievement, and for top management to track progress toward it. So, on the surface it would seem that the DIS is adequately addressing this point. However, this is only the case if the concept of continual improvement is interchangeable with that of transformation. In truth this is not the case, as transformation is a broader concept involving a cultural shift in an organization seeking to truly adopt all of Deming 14 points. Continuous improvement is undoubtedly a component of this transformation, but is limited in its scope to improvement of the quality management system.
For the sake of this conclusion, Demings points have been grouped into four sub-categories, which are listed below. Many points straddle these subcategories.
1. Create constancy of purpose toward improvement. 2. Adopt the new philosophy. 7. Institute leadership. 11. Eliminate management by objectives.
3. Cease dependence on inspection. 4. Move toward a single supplier for any one item. 5. Improve constantly and forever. 9. Break down barriers between departments.
6. Institute training on the job. 13. Institute education and self-improvement.
8. Drive out fear. 10. Eliminate slogans. 12. Remove barriers to pride of workmanship. 14. The transformation is everyone’s job.
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