W. Edwards Deming is the pioneer of the concept continuous quality improvement, a quality control system that strives to improve the process established within organizations. Deming’s 14 points are a framework for his philosophy, as follows:
1. Create constancy of purpose for improvements of product and service.
The emphasis of this point is for management to focus on long term goals and to think beyond the coming quarter; create innovative, sustainable, scalable projects. This can be achieved by committing resources to long term productivity, rather than short sightedness aimed at short term profitability.
2. Adopt the new philosophy.
Be an agent of change. Implement programs that deter complacency, and strive for setting higher standards, with an emphasis on quality of workmanship. Don’t succumb to accepting low-level standards of workmanship and poor service. A system that accepts defects in product or service accepts the additional costs associated, which are a burden to creating an effective system.
3. Cease dependence on mass inspection.
Focus on improving the process. Inspections don’t create quality products, improving the process does. As a result of improving the process, defects won’t occur in the first place, reducing the need for frequent inspections. In thinking this through, there are a number of peripheral benefits to this; higher quality products improve brand image which lends itself to improved revenues, as a result of being able to charge more and consumer confidence in the product/service. Additionally, the company will spend less on man hours as a result of mass inspection processes.
4. End the practice of awarding business on price tag alone.
This refers to the old adage, “you get what you pay for.” Typically, when you go to the lowest bidder you are sacrificing quality. If you are using low quality products to manufacture an end-product in your production line, you are by default going to produce a lesser quality item. Implement a method to measure quality in conjunction with the bid process. Additionally, reduce the number of vendors where possible and establish stronger ties with quality suppliers.
5. Constantly and forever improve the system of production and service.
This is to say, strive for continuous improvement. Whether it is front office or back, strive to continuously improve quality and to eliminate waste. Implement programs that regularly evaluate the system in search of problems, and correct those problems.
6. Institute modern methods of training on the job.
Organizations need to update programs to be consistent with “todays” industry standards and practice. Establish training programs that clearly define expectations and be clear with explaining what the job is and why is must be done. Commit to an on the job training program and allow for innovation. Additionally, implement evaluation programs that quantify performance.
7. Institute modern methods of supervising.
Focus on managerial leadership; a program where managers encourage workers to do better and be better. Empower them by giving them the tools they need to be effective leaders and to create a positive work environment.
8. Drive out organizational fear.
Fear is usually the result of an unknown, and change generally brings about fear. One of the best ways to overcome this, and to foster an atmosphere that seeks to eradicate the presence of fear, is to open the lines of communication. Encourage employees to express their ideas, as well as problems that they confront.
9. Break down barriers that exist between departments.
In short, place an emphasis on TEAM. Remove the barriers that isolate departments, and often puts them at odds with one another, and create a corporate culture where the departments work with one another as a team to achieve organizational goals. Have them work together to over overcome problems.
10. Eliminate numerical goals.
While slogans and posters may seem like a great way to get the word out, they are actually counterproductive. Remove these as most employees will resent them and often the changes that are promoted are not within their scope of control. If a slogan is “do it right the first time” is posted around the building, it can be discouraging as people do make mistakes and if the organization implements a training program that places an emphasis on quality, then employees will inherently “do it right the first time.”
11. Remove work standards and numerical quotas.
Placing an emphasis on fulfilling quotas means employees will focus on quantity rather than quality. Following a system of continuous improvement is to strive for quality production, not quantity production. Statistical data should be reserved for departmental analysis and not used as a catalyst for employee performance.
12. Eliminate barriers that obstruct hourly workers.
These barriers affect employee pride and lower morale, reducing the emphasis on quality. Ensure that employees receive feedback on their workmanship and involve them in the improvement process. While there may be a program in place to rank them quantitatively, don’t share this with them as this creates a competitive environment and it is counterproductive to establishing a system that emphasizes teamwork.
13. Institute a vigorous program of education and training.
Education in itself empowers people. Implementing a system of continual education will benefit personnel and the organization. While educating employees on new trends and technologies for their particular field or industry is important, it is okay to offer other educational courses, such as self-improvement courses. Education opens the door of curiosity, which has many positive attributes.
14. Create a structure that will promote the above 13 points daily.
Top management should be structured in a way that they focus on the above 13 points and strive for continuous improvement. Management should focus on making sure their “troops” have everything they need to produce quality work, with a commitment to do so.