Deming's Point Fourteen

Plan and take action to accomplish the transformation.

♦ Build as soon as possible an organization to guide the continual improvement of quality.  

♦ The Steering Committee (or management staff or other group with the authority and wherewithal to “make it happen”) is that organization that provides guidance for the transformation process.   This multi-disciplined group includes the top local manager, some (if not all) of his or her direct reports, and technical specialists.  Their role is to provide both direction and resources to ensure the successful implementation and integration of continuous improvement.  They accept responsibility for seeing that the organization accomplishes the transformation.

♦ Management in authority will struggle with every one of the above 13 points.  They will agree on the meaning and on the direction to take.  They will agree to carry out the transformation.

♦ Management will take pride in their adoption of the new philosophy and in their new responsibilities.  They will have the courage to break with tradition.

♦ Management will explain by seminars and other means to a critical mass of people why change is necessary, and that the change will involve everybody.

♦ Recall that Deming’s Point One reads, “Create constancy of purpose to improve products and services.”  A clear mission statement should define the purpose in the phrase, “constancy of purpose,” and the Steering Committee must communicate and explain that statement.  Evans and Lindsay described how an organization’s mission, vision and guiding principles serve as the foundation for strategic planning.

  • The mission statement defines an organization’s reason for existence.  It answers the question, “Why are we in business?”
  • A vision statement describes where the organization is headed and what it intends to be.  It is a statement of the future that would not happen all by itself.
  • Values, or guiding principles, guide the journey to a vision by defining attitudes and policies for all employees that are reinforced through conscious and subconscious behavior at all levels of the organization.

♦ The general goals or areas of emphasis provided by many strategic plans are very important for guiding the long-term transformation - but they are not sufficient.  Also required is a sound initial implementation plan that provides specific answers to the question, "Who is going to do what and when?"  Most organizations will see little progress in implementing continuous improvement unless the following are clearly delineated in the initial implementation plan:

  • Specific, feasible, clearly defined action steps
  • Clearly defined responsibilities ("champions") for each action step
  • Checkpoints (or target dates) for completing or reviewing progress of each agreed-upon action step

♦ Everyone can eventually take part in a team project.  The aim of the teams is to improve processes.

♦ The Shewhart Cycle (Plan - Do - Study - Act) is a useful guide for process improvement.  In the second stage of the cycle, teams carry out a change or test planned in the first stage, preferably on a small scale.  Next, the teams summarize what was learned and then take appropriate action to adopt the change, hold gains, or run through the cycle again.

♦ Organizations following the Deming road map...

  • Focus on process – not “product.”
  • Use data skillfully to understand systems.
  • Direct systems improvements to delight customers (both internal and external).
  • Create a healthy environment for continuous improvement.
  • Involve everyone in ongoing systems improvement efforts.
  • Provide leadership so people are willing to take responsibility for improvement.

This concludes our series of blogs on Deming's Fourteen Points.  Here's a final word from Dr. Deming himself:*

"When you think of all the underuse, abuse, and misuse of the people of this country, this may be the world's most underdeveloped nation.  Number one!  We did it again.  We're number one!

"For underdevelopment.

"Our people not used, mismanaged, misused, abused and underused by a management that worships sacred cows; a style of management that was never right, but built good fortune for this country between 1950 and 1968; because the rest of the world, so much of it, was devastated.  You couldn't go wrong no matter what you did.  Well, those days are over and they've been over for a long time.

"It's about time for American management to wake up!"


W. E. Deming, Out of the Crisis, MIT Center for Advanced Engineering Study, Cambridge, MA (1986), pp. 86-89.

W. E. Deming, The New Economics for Industry, Government, Education, MIT Center for Advanced Educational Services, Cambridge, MA (1993), p. 135.

J. Evans and W. Lindsay, Managing for Quality and Performance Excellence, Eighth Edition, South-Western Cengage Learning, Mason, OH (2008), pp. 158-160.

J. F. Leonard, Essential Statistical Methods: Statistical Process Control (SPC) Concepts & Techniques, Seminar Workbook, Jim Leonard Process Improvement, Woodstock, CT (2010), p. 5.23.

J. F. Leonard, The New Philosophy for K-12 Education: A Deming Framework for Transforming America's Schools, ASQ Quality Press, Milwaukee, WI (1996), pp. 243, 247.

*_________________, Management's Five Deadly Diseases: A Conversation with Dr. W. Edwards Deming, Encyclopaedia Britannnica Educational Corporation, (1984), videocassette.

© 2015 James F. Leonard.  All rights reserved.

Copyright ©2023. All Rights Reserved.