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Why Things Go Wrong

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Why Things Go Wrong

Deming Philosophy in a Dozen Ten-Minute Sessions

Pelican Publishing,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Dr. W. Edwards Deming’s philosophy of management: big ideas now in a tiny book.

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Dr. W. Edwards Deming was a business professor and consultant who’s probably best known for his role advising post-World War II Japanese companies on manufacturing and quality; many experts give him much of the credit for Japan’s transition to technological preeminence. Beginning in the 1980s and continuing even now, his famous writings, “14 Points for Managers” (a chapter in his book Out of the Crisis) and “7 Deadly Diseases of Management,” and his subsequent books make major corporations like Ford take notice. He spent the latter part of his life writing and consulting on management, quality and productivity. Consultant Gary Fellers’s tidy little manual moves Deming into today with a readable summary of his management philosophy in 10 handy chapters. While Fellers’s summations are no substitute for Deming’s primary texts, the author provides a practical précis of Deming’s salient philosophical points. getAbstract recommends Fellers’s guide to any manager, experienced or new. You’ll read it again and again, and it handily fits in your pocket.


The Debut of Deming in the US

In the 1980s, W. Edwards Deming presented a management philosophy contrary to everything American supervisors at that time had learned in business school. His methods embraced employee creativity and teamwork. Deming believed that managers fail when they don’t understand the sources of “variations,” or “things that go wrong.” Variations spring from two roots: either “common causes” over which employees have little control or “local faults” that staff members can identify and fix.

Most corporate problems stem from common causes, so managers can address and resolve them. Company leaders must understand that most business patterns develop over time. Supervisors should never mistake exceptional variations for the norm. They should empower “interdepartmental teams” to identify whether a company’s problems are due to “system problems,” which require long-term solutions, or local faults, which can be resolved by action implemented at the point of customer interaction. Never hold your workers responsible for difficulties over which they have no influence.

“Seven Global Problems”

Deming enumerated seven “deadly diseases” that managers...

About the Author

Dr. Gary Fellers, who is a management trainer and Deming expert, also wrote Creativity for Leaders.

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