Deming Myths II

More Deming Myths
Dan Strongin

There is are a lot of misconception online and in practice about what Dr. Deming said, and meant

Deming alone brought quality to Japan in the 1950s

Where it stands, based on the historical evidence:

Based on the historical record carefully researched by Professor. Fisher, in his paper Homer Sarasohn and American involvement in the evolution of Quality
Management in Japan, 1945 – 1950 N I Fisher, School of Mathematics & Statistics University of Sydney” Sarasohn was summoned to Japan by the War Department in April of 1946.

In the same paper, Deming is mentioned:

“on website of the Japanese Statistics Bureau , Kitada (1995) recorded that “In response to the request of the General Headquarters to the U.S. Government on October 31, 1946, the first mission came to Japan on December 22 of the same year, just before
the Statistics Commission was organized, to research and recommend on reform of statistical affairs of the Japanese Government and other matters. The mission conducted research in cooperation with the Statistics Commission and, on May 28, 1947, submitted to the General Headquarters a recommendation titled “Modernization of Japan’s Statistics.” The leader of the mission was Dr. S. A. Rice, Assistant Director of the Bureau of Budget (BoB) and Director of the Statistical Standards Department of BoB of the Executive Office of the President …. The mission also included … Mr. W. E. Deming.”  ibid

Hence they both visited Japan first within 8 months of each other, with Sarasohn arriving in April, and the mission which included Deming in December.

Dr. Deming did not work with the Japanese on Statistical Quality Control until 1950.

“Deming visited Japan [in 1947 and 1948?] on a task related to official statistics. During his stay, he had a meeting with Japanese academic professors and statisticians and gave his books and new information on statistical studies. Professor Jiro Yamauchi (University of Tokyo, at that time) attended the meeting. He suggested subsequently that Professor Sig eiti Moriguti read one of Deming’s books: “Statistical Adjustment of Data” (Wiley and Sons, 1943). Moriguti began to translate the book and to correspond with Deming to clarify questions concerning translation of the book. In 1949, Moriguti was informed by Dr. Deming of his plan to visit to Japan in 1950 in their exchange of letters concerning the translation. Then Mr. Koyanagi of JUSE leaned of Deming’s intention from Moriguti and wrote a letter to Dr. Deming asking Deming to present an SQC Seminar at JUSE. The translation was published in August, 1950. ” ibid quoting from Moriguti’s (1987) paper.

Sarasohn wrote this on what happened:

“Our follow-on plan was to continue after the CCS Seminar with a series of shorter, more detailed courses aimed at middle and plant level managers. The topics to be covered included industrial engineering, manufacturing cost control, product development transition, and statistical quality control.
The first of these was presented in Tokyo in the Spring of 1950. However, our plan was suddenly interrupted when South Korea was invaded by forces that came down from the north. The focus of our attention in SCAP immediately shifted to that crisis. Nevertheless, it was important to me that we not lose the momentum toward success that had been building over the past several years. At least, I wanted our work in quality control to carry on even if we could not continue it ourselves. I tried to get Walter Shewhart to come to Japan to be the teacher. But, he was ill at that time, and was not available. We thought of others who might take over. We finally decided Dr. W. Edwards Deming should be invited. He was a statistician and an early student of Shewhart who is deservedly known as the “Father of Quality Control”. Deming came and was very well received. His contributions to the improvement of quality management made a lasting impression upon the Japanese industrial scene.  (Sarasohn 1997).

and this: (be forewarned, he was not diplomatic and perhaps a bit unsympathetic to the Japanese.)

“After the CCS (Civil Communications Service) Management Seminars were established and thriving, I wanted to have a specialized, concentrated course on quality control methods specifically for plant managers as a follow-on to the quality concepts, philosophy and policy issues I had dwelled on with the senior executives who were my seminar “students”. I did not want these people to be fixated on the mechanics of statistics. Rather, it was essential that they understand the entire management function and all of its related parts as a SYSTEM, including the component that was statistical analysis.

In other words, statistics was merely a tool that is used to gain an ultimate objective. It is not an end in itself. I felt, and feel, strongly on this, and it has put me at odds with some other folks who speak on the subject of Quality Control.

For example, I had to put my foot down unceremoniously with Koyanagi, Koga, Ishikawa and some others of the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers (JUSE). They had a simple-minded view. They had come across some early AT&T reports. It occurred to them that all one had to know was the mathematics of statistics – that was what enabled the United States to win the war!! They saw quality control as an academic exercise.

Fortunately, there were others, such as Nishibori and Mabuchi, who were level -headed and wanted not only to learn, but also to understand. So, I blocked the JUSE effort to go wandering off on the wrong track. At the same time, I had another motive. I wanted the plant managers’ attention to be focused on the production matters at hand. I did not want their concentration diverted to abstractions they were not yet prepared to handle. It was a question of priorities, and JUSE was off-base.

By 1950 the CCS Management Seminars were off to a good start and the time was now ripe for the detailed course on statistical quality control that I had had in mind. (Incidentally, I went over all of this history with the JUSE people at a banquet they held for me when I was back in Tokyo several years ago.) Koyanagi knew of my plan, and I have copies of his and Deming’s 1950 letters. In my view Koyanagi was precipitous , and Deming’s reply was appropriate.

It was clear that Shewhart was the right man for the job I wanted done. However, it turned out he was not available. A second choice had to be selected from among other potential candidates. But, another consideration was to open up the follow -on course to, not only the communications and electronics manufacturers, but to the other industries under SCAP control as well. So, I went to my friends in ESS, Ken Morrow and others, with the suggestion that we sponsor the course jointly. Seeing that the CCS Seminars were successful, they agreed. We began to explore who we might get as the instructor. And, we formed a working committee among the Japanese to handle the matter of attendees and other “housekeeping” chores. Koyanagi was a member of this committee.

Remembering his earlier exposure to Japan , and knowing something about his subsequent university occupation (at Columbia? New York University?), I suggested that Deming be given the job. Then I asked the ESS to take the lead on this program because I was preoccupied with establishing the Electrical Test Laboratory as the authority to perform the required quality certification prototype tests of all electronic and communications products that were proposed to be marketed.

I have known that Koyanagi took great personal pride in associating himself with the honor that was reflected from the popular acceptance accorded Deming by the Japanese. It did not bother me then, nor does it now, that he has represented himself as the instigator of Japan’s mastery of the quality control effort. Perhaps he needed that to gain stature among his peers.

What does bother me is that he, in his 1960 article, used a few obscure references to gloss over the significant contributions CCS made to modernize Japan’s management methods (cf., “..urged…makers to adopt quality control methods, offering educational service for this purpose”). The “help” given by the Japan Management Association was merely administrative. JUSE’s work on SQC came later. The fact is, little is known in the United States, and little is admitted in Japan as to the contributions made by the Americans in CCS to the reconstruction of Japan’s post-war industry prior to Deming’s arrival on the scene. Hopefully, your narration, the television documentary and your book will help to set the record straight.

So, to summarize this retrospective, Deming was my second choice. I suggested that ESS take over the program so that there would be a wider application of the quality control commitment in Japanese industry. They agreed to bring Deming over and get him started. There was no “coordination” with JUSE, but they were informed, as were others in the government and associations, of what we were doing. Moriguchi was helpful in this regard. I believe that Koyanagi took it upon himself to write his letter to Deming. I believe, further, that ESS’s leadership in the program was less than assertive for two reasons: (1) they were lukewarm players to begin with because of the earlier controversy with CCS, and (2) with the prospect of the Korean war, SCAP’s focus shifted across the Sea of Japan.”

It is still unclear from the dates mentioned why Deming was coming to Japan in May of 1950 as mentioned in his letter to Moriguti.  Sarasohn is not certain in his recollections, and didn’t seem to attach that much importance to whether ESS, at his suggestion, or Koyangi invited Deming first.  It is also clear that Sarasohn was teaching Quality Control before Deming’s JUSE lectures:

Either way, with all due respect to Sarasohn and his important early work, it was the JUSE presentations that had the most impact, leading to many follow up visits by Deming to work with them, some sources say as many as 100.

He gave an 8 day course in SPC to engineers and plant managers in July of 1950,and followed that up with a seminar to CEOs culminating in a speech to 75% of all the industrialists in Japan at the time, in August, in the Hakone Conference Center, and was not on process control.

Due to his sympathetic nature, and his great respect for the Japanese as human beings, Deming’s lectures were immensely influential.  There is translation of the speech on Mr. Dowds site,  and there is  a short summary of the speech included in “The World of W. Edwards Deming”, by his secretary, Cecelia S. Kilian.

As to Deming’s recognition of Sarasohn’s work in Japan there is only:
“The earliest recognition by Deming appears to be in a hand -written note he sent to Kenneth Hopper dated 22 November 1998, in response to Hopper sending him a copy of his article “Creating Japan’s new industrial management: the Americans as teachers”. The note read: “Dear Mr Hopper, Your letter and article excite me. I am much indebted to you. Your article is just what I need. Sincerely yours W. Edwards Deming”.

In a letter to Shirley Sarasohn dated 4 April 1996, William Hopper wrote “My brother Kenneth was close to Dr Deming who strongly encouraged us to pursue our investigations into the role played by the Civil Communications Section of General MacArthur’s Command in Japan under the Occupation. Dr Deming even subsidized the cost of our research. When we submitted our conclusions to him, he wrote back: ‘This is just what I need’

The comment from some sources that Protzman, who had worked with Deming during the war, had recommend Deming to JUSE, some say by way of Ishikawa, is unsubstantiated, and untrue according to the record.

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