The Right Approach: The Founding Fathers of Quality—W. Edwards Deming


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This column begins a series of seven installments, each highlighting one of the seven founding fathers of quality (as selected by the author). It is important to understand and acknowledge their revolutionary contributions that still form the foundation of modern quality practices.

The Founding Fathers of Quality

Companies like Toyota are often touted (with good reason) as the gold standard for quality system models. Toyota’s production system (TPS) has been highly publicized and gained increasing acceptance in American manufacturing operations over the last decade or so. What has not been highly publicized is the fact that many of these concepts originated in America, and quality pioneers like Dr. W. Edwards Deming had to take their show on the road to Japan only after being rejected by the leaders of American industry. The contributions of such legends as Dr. Deming, Dr. Juran, Philip Crosby, Dr. Ishikawa, Dr. Shewhart, and Shigeo Shingo had such an impact on the world that they truly are the founding fathers of modern quality.

Dr. W. Edwards Deming (1900–1993)

Dr. Deming is perhaps best known for his theory that most problems are systemic and his not-so-subtle reminder that management owns the system. In emphasizing management’s responsibility for systems, Dr. Deming noted that workers are responsible for only 10–20% of the quality problems in a factory and that the remaining 80–90% is under management’s control—the systems. This position was a bit revolutionary for America in the 1950s and was a major reason his philosophy was not well-received when originally introduced.

To read this entire column, which appeared in the December 2019 issue of PCB007 Magazine, click here.

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