Recommended Reading

First Exposure

Dr. Deming’s management philosophy requires a dramatic change in thought. New concepts need to be mastered and common terms take on very different meanings. Old ideas need to be discarded before one can adequately begin to understand Deming. For these reasons, among people who are knowledgeable about Deming, the term change in thinking is considered inadequate. What is required is a transformation of thinking.

These three books are not just the best books to introduce someone to Dr. Deming’s ideas but the only books we would recommend for new students.

1. Dr. Deming: The American who Taught the Japanese about Quality, by Rafael Aguayo – Buy Now!
The American that Taught

2. The Deming Dimension by Henry Neave

3. The Deming Management Method by Mary Walton

Once someone has a basic understanding of Deming’s ideas his own books become much more approachable.

Books by Deming

  4. Out of the Crisis, by W. Edwards Deming

out This was actually the second of Deming’s management books but it was the one most read and most quoted. Any serious reader will see that in most companies we have a long ways to go in the US and the West.



new eco5. The New Economics, by W. Edwards Deming



6. Quality Productivity and Competitive Position by W. Edward Deming.  This was Deming’s first published book on management. The book is currently out of print. While Out of the Crisis may be more readable QP&CP gives the reader a very direct less edited version of Deming’s thinking.

Additional Supplemental Works

Once a basic understanding has been achieved these other books can help one deepen his or her understanding.

7. The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization
by Peter M. Senge 1990 Second edition 2006.


This book was published at the same time as books 1, 2 and 3 on this list. It deals with systems thinking and fits in nicely with Dr. Deming’s message. It masterfully complements the other books on this list.


8. Fourth Generation Management by Brian Joiner.

This book covers management with a greater emphasis on underlying statistical principles.

9. No Contest: The Case Against Competition by Alfie Kohn.

Makes the case for cooperation over competition using some theory and looking at the data on published reports on the topic. While Kohn makes some questionable assumptions in using surveys of the literature to draw some conclusions these are pretty common mistakes made by almost everyone trying to use numbers to justify a position. But there is no question that he completely demolishes the arguments of those who assume and claim that competition is always superior.

10. The MetaKnowledge Advantage by Rafael Aguayo.

meta2Written by Aguayo after more than 20 years of applying Deming’s ideas to his own companies, his life and as a consultant. The book reaches well beyond management and addresses key issues in Economics, theory of knowledge, statistical thinking and a great deal of emphasis on different systems for understanding the complexity of people.


11. Deming Management at Work by Mary Walton.

Shows some examples of how companies began using Dr. Deming’s ideas in the 1980s. Despite the amount of time that has passed many organizations could still benefit from the lessons here. In fact as most of us acknowledge quality in the US and the West has gone backward – in many cases to the half baked ideas of the past.

12. The Leader’s Handbook by Peter Scholtes.
leadersThis workbook helps the leadership of a company learn what their role really is, on a solid Deming Foundation. As a work book, it is spiral bound, and meant to be used during the learning process. Dr. Scholtes was a friend and colleague of Dr. Deming’s, and helped him with his Four Day Seminars at the end of his life.


13. The Deming Route to Quality and Productivity: Roadmap and Roadblocks by William W. Scherkenbach.

“He was my student, and there’s none better in the world…”, is how Deming recommended Scherkenbach. This book is based on his work at Ford as Director of Statistical Methods and gives practical, important insights for the application of Deming’s 14 points. It provides a roadmap for better understanding and implementation the principles using examples taken directly from Scherkenbach’s on the job experience.

14. Deming’s Road to Continual Improvement by William W. Scherkenbach

Here, Scherkenbach skillfully describes his understanding of the Deming philosophy and how to apply it. Putting Deming’s theory into practice requires “change” which, according to the author, should be approached on 3 levels: physical, logical and emotional.
The book is a deep walk into Deming’s teachings, with a special focus on the Theory of Profound Knowledge, through the eyes of a well known and respected practicioner.

15. Systems Thinking: Creative Holism for Managers by Michael C. Jackson



At times Deming’s management philosophy has been corrupted by people who have an excessive interest in the tools and process improvement, most notably Six Sigma. Yet process improvement tools, when combined with an understanding of management are very powerful for fostering improvement in operations and profitability of an organization.

Good tools coupled with proper understanding can help a company dramatically and continually improve quality, reduce waste, shorten lead times and improve profits. But we also warn that without the proper understanding they can hurt an organization.

16. Guide to Quality Control by Dr. Kaoru Ishikawa.

Originally created for general dissemination of statistical quality control tools in Japanese factories the book gives a very good step by step introduction to a handful of basic tools useful for analyzing problems and coming up with solutions.

17. Understanding Variation by Donald J. Wheeler.

Wheeleunderstand vr masterfully explains how ignorance of variation and the meaning of numbers and time series, what he calls “numerical naiveté,” is leading to great loss in companies and in nations. Some of the examples appear to be almost farcical after one understands the meaning of numbers. Yet, every day the misinterpretations and false knowledge is being used in our companies and leading to huge, immeasurable losses in industry and government.

18. Understanding Statistical Process Control by Donald J. Wheeler and David S. Chambers.

There is not a better book available for deeply understanding control charts, their underlying theory and why they work.

Digging Deeper

At the Foundation

19. Economic Control of Quality of Manufactured Product
by Walter Shewhart.

This is the book that started the modern quality movement. All the basic concepts for quality are covered in this, Shewhart’s first book. The rational for 3-sigma control limits and many other key concepts are covered. This does read like a text book and is recommended only for serious students, but this is the foundation book

20. Statistical Method from the Viewpoint of Quality Control
by Walter Shewhart.

This is Shewhart’s second book. It is edited by W. Edwards Deming. The book comes out of four lectures that were given by Shewhart at the Graduate School, US Department of Agriculture, at the invitation of Deming. The book is a masterpiece covering statistical method, theory of knowledge and other topics. Decades may pass before the world recognizes the power behind the ideas in this book.

21. Mind and the World Order: Outline of a Theory of Knowledge by Clarence Irving Lewis.

Shewhart is said to have read this book 14 times. It was most influential in developing his ideas with respect to accuracy, precision and his theory of knowledge.