W. Edwards Deming was a highly influential American statistician, engineer, and management consultant who made significant contributions to the quality control and management field. Born on October 14, 1900, in Sioux City, Iowa, Deming is widely regarded as the father of the Japanese post-World War II industrial revival and a leading figure in developing the quality management movement.
Deming grew up in a highly academic family, with both of his parents being well-educated scholars. He attended the University of Wyoming and received a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering in 1921. He then completed a Master of Science in mathematics and physics from the University of Colorado and later received a PhD in mathematical physics from Yale University.
After completing his education, Deming started working as a physicist for the United States Department of Agriculture, where he developed statistical methods to improve the quality of agricultural products. He faced initial challenges in getting his work accepted, as his methods went against the traditional thinking of the time. His attempts to introduce statistical process control were often met with resistance from management, who viewed them as unnecessary and costly.
Deming’s career took a significant turn when he was invited to Japan by the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers to help improve the quality of their products. Here, he developed his philosophy of Total Quality Management (TQM) and introduced the now-famous Deming Cycle (PDCA) model. The Japanese manufacturers adopted Deming’s methods, which led to significant improvements in the quality and productivity of their products.
Deming’s key qualities that enabled his success were his perseverance, determination, and passion for his work. Despite facing resistance and opposition to his methods, he remained committed to his goal of improving the quality of products and services. He was also an excellent communicator and had a talent for simplifying complex ideas, which enabled him to gain acceptance for his methods.
Deming made significant contributions to the field of quality control and management, which profoundly impacted the manufacturing industry in Japan and the world over. Some of his notable accomplishments include:
- Developing the Deming Cycle (PDCA) model for continuous improvement
- Introducing Total Quality Management (TQM) as a new philosophy of management
- Authoring several books on quality control and management, including “Out of the Crisis” and “The New Economics for Industry, Government, Education”
- Receiving numerous awards and accolades, including the National Medal of Technology in 1987 and the Deming Prize, which was established in Japan in his honour.
Deming’s contributions to quality control and management have been widely recognized and acclaimed professionally. He was a fellow of the American Statistical Association, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the American Society for Quality. He also consulted several leading organizations, including the United States government, the Ford Motor Company, and the Xerox Corporation.
Deming’s long-term goal was to transform businesses and organisations by adopting his Total Quality Management philosophy. He believed that by focusing on customers’ needs, improving processes, and investing in employee training, organizations could achieve greater productivity, efficiency, and customer satisfaction.