Why do I like Deming’s management ideas?

Beyond his recognized success in Japan after the Second World War, his impact on the eighties and of the success of companies that currently follow his ideas, his understanding of organizations and business reality far surpasses all other ?management theories
currently in force.

In opposition to a management philosophy based on results, objectives and numbers, Deming proposes a new theory based on Knowledge. To understand reality, in the business and organizational environment, requires a change in our mental model. Reality is too complex to be understood only with numbers. This seems like a curious conclusion coming from a renowned mathematician and statistician.

To achieve our purposes we need to broaden our perspective. If we reduce reality to what we want to achieve, and focus and manipulate that we will certainly fail. Our intrinsic human need to get immediate satisfaction for our efforts usually leads us to errors and disasters. Even worse, if by chance they happen to lead to a false (temporary) success, it is likely that our mind will refuse to understand that the subsequent disaster results from our previous actions that seemed to have had a positive initial effect.

The results we want, as well as our objectives are but wishes. Trying to manage them without a deeper theory or without knowledge will lead us to fall into this trap of the human psyche.

Deming’s proposal is as revolutionary as it is effective. For a business to survive and succeed it must improve continually, this means giving more and more useful value more efficiently: an improvement driven by the user and society. This is quality and efficiency. Quality is to create value with minimum effort and resources; it means to provide increasingly better products and services for less.

This is only possible if knowledge is continually created in the organization. Knowledge is not just about numbers and data. It requires an uncommon but necessary perspective: his four dimensions. In the New Economy, without these perspectives we are doomed to fail; doomed to short-term, short-lived successes that are followed by powerful subsequent disasters.
My conclusion is this: Today we can do things better than yesterday if today we know something that yesterday we did not.
Deming links success with ethics; practical value for the customer with social benefit; collaboration with efficiency; business results with a creative work environment; employees’ pride in their work with innovation; quality with results and so on.

I find it hard to understand that his teachings are not widely known by managers, leaders and teachers. Perhaps he was also right when he predicted that his teachings would take decades to be used generally.

But until that moment arrives, we are wary of those who use his name to sell models and toolkits for different purposes, for there is nothing more dangerous than a tool in the hands of someone who does not know the purpose for which it was created.

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