Book Review- The Essential Deming. Leadership Principles from the Father of Quality

DemingDAN’S SCORE: Stars 4
The Essential Deming: Leadership Principles from the Father of Quality
Edited by Joyce Nilsson Orsini

No, its not exactly a book you would see on the Agile lists. But Deming is considered a major player in what has become known as the Japanese economic miracle. Toyota best represents that miracle. And Toyota is the model for Agile. So that makes Deming–what?–Agile’s grandfather?

Deming went to Japan in 1950 and taught the Japanese how to create quality products. 25 years later they became the second largest economy in the world. The U.S. was stunned. How did they do it? In 1980, NBC  aired an episode called, “If Japan Can . . . Why Can’t We?” Deming was featured in that episode and suddenly, the country that had largely ignored him for 30 years suddenly embraced him.

This book is a collection of some of his writings and speeches. Some of my favorites (and yes, some sound VERY Agile):

  • It will not suffice to have customers that are merely satisfied. A satisfied customer may switch. What a company requires …. is loyal customers, the customer who comes back, waits in line and brings a friend with him.
  • Recognition of the distinction between a stable system and an unstable one is vital for management. A stable system is one whose performance is predictable; it appears to be statistically in control (sounds like velocity!).
  • Work on continual improvement—better and better quality, lower and lower cost.
  • william-edwards-deming-837-t-600x600-rw[1]

    Some say Dr. Deming is the greatest business mind of the 20th century!

    The job of a leader is to accomplish transformation of his organization. He possesses knowledge. He himself must be transformed. He has personality and persuasive power. How does he accomplish transformation? First he has a theory. He understands why the transformation would bring gain to his organization and to all the people that his organization deals with, the customers, suppliers, environment. Second he feels compelled to accomplish the transformation as an obligation to himself and the organization. Third, he is a practical man. He has a plan, step by step.
The negative– quite bluntly, Deming can be difficult to understand. I’ve heard stories of people who heard Deming speak and thought he was senile. It wasn’t until sometime later they realized his brilliance. For me, I would read a passage and think, “Boy, I know he’s saying something important here, but I’m not quite connecting the dots.” The more I study this man, though, the more I appreciate him. He was simply a genius.
The book can be found here. His institute has podcasts and articles you can check out for free!





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