Management And Accounting Web

W. Edwards Deming Quotes

Provided by James R. Martin, Ph.D., CMA
Professor Emeritus, University of South Florida

Deming's Theory of Management Main Page

"It is a mistake to assume that if everybody does his job, it will be all right. The whole system may be in trouble."

"The process is not just the sum of its parts."

"The problem is that most courses teach what is wrong."

"Management is prediction."

"A goal without a method is nonsense."

"Without theory, there are no questions."

"Monetary rewards are not a substitute for intrinsic motivation."

"The merit system will put us out of business."

"A leader is a coach, not a judge."

"A leader must have knowledge. A leader must be able to teach."

"Does experience help? No! Not if we are doing the wrong things."

"If you destroy the people of a company, you do not have much left."

"Management by results is confusing special causes with common causes."

"We should work on the process, not the outcome of the processes."

"Build in quality."

"No one has to change. Survival is optional."

"When the student is ready, the teacher will come." I am not sure Deming ever said this, but it was attributed to the disciples of W. Edwards Deming on the PBS television special, "The Deming of America."

Other quotes from "The Deming of America" PBS special:

"Adversarial competition is not the answer."

"Defend your rights, you lose."

"Banks do not fail because of mistakes at the teller's window."

"Management's job is optimization of the whole system."

"Experience without theory teaches nothing."

"The orchestra is an example of optimization."

"The customer does not foresee his future needs."

Some quotes from Dr. Deming's Foreword to Scherkenbach, W. W. 1991. Deming's Road to Continual Improvement. SPC Press: vii-ix.

"The economic position of the U.S. has been on the decline for three decades. The prevailing system of management has brought waste and high costs. We have been led astray by faith in adversarial competition. One could easily cite examples of wasteful practices: Short term thinking... Rank people, teams, salesmen, divisions, with reward at the top, punishment at the bottom. ... Management by results."

"It is a mistake to suppose that if you can not measure the results of an activity, you can not manage it. The fact is that the most important losses and gains can not be measured, yet for survival they must be managed."

"Most of the wasteful practices of the prevailing system of management are wrong ways to manage people. They begin with grades in school, from toddlers on up through the university. They lead to the annual appraisal of people on the job, even of teachers; incentive pay; monetary reward for suggestions; bonuses (to make sure that everybody does his job); quotas for production; gains from training, gains from education; business plans based on competitive measures."

"The performance of any component within a system is to be judged in terms of its contribution to the aim of the system, not for its individual production or profit, nor for any other competitive measure."

"Optimization of a system should be the basis of negotiation between any two people, between divisions of a company, between customer and supplier, between countries, between competitors. Everybody gains under optimization."

"Best efforts and hard work will not suffice, nor new machinery, computers, automation, gadgets. One could well add that we are being ruined by best efforts put forth with the best intentions but without guidance of a theory of management for optimization of a system."

"The change requires transformation, change of state - metamorphosis - in industry, education, and government. The transformation will restore the individual by abolishment of grades in school on up through the university; by abolishment of the annual appraisal of people on the job, M.B.O., quotas for production, incentive pay, competition between people, competition between divisions, and other forms of sub optimization. The transformation is not stamping out fires, solving problems, nor cosmetic improvements."