Deming's Point Nine

Break down barriers between departments and staff groups.

♦ People in research, design, purchasing, sales and receipt of incoming materials must learn more about the problems encountered in production and assembly.

♦ Everyone in engineering design has a customer: the person who must try to make the thing that was designed.  Why not get acquainted with the customer?  Why not spend time in the factory, see the problems?

♦ Teams composed of people in design, engineering, production and sales could contribute to designs for the future, and could accomplish important improvements in product, service and quality of today.

♦ Teamwork is sorely needed throughout the company.

♦ Unfortunately, the annual rating too often defeats teamwork.  Teamwork is risky business.  He that works to help other people may not have as much production to show for the annual rating as he would if he worked alone.

♦ Deming's Point 12 reads in part, "Eliminate the annual appraisal or merit rating system."  Thus, Point 9 and Point 12 are two sides of the same systemic coin.

♦ You cannot have teamwork, cooperation, synergy and optimization (Point 9) without paying attention to the destructive effects on teamwork, cooperation, synergy and optimization that result from an individual merit reward system.  You cannot have Point 9 without Point 12!

♦ Another systemic barrier to teamwork  is the goals system (Point 11).  The purchasing manager's goal is to minimize purchase price variance.  The operations manager's goal is to maximize yields, maximize output.  The maintenance manager's goal is to minimize downtime.  The general manager can make a case that if these three managers meet their goals, it all contributes to good bottom-line results for the entire plant.  The managers all share the same goal, and they each have logical, functional pieces of the plant goal for profit.

♦ Unfortunately, the best way for the purchasing manager to meet his goal is to squeeze suppliers for lowest price; play suppliers off against one another for business based on price.  This leads to wide variation in incoming materials from multiple vendors.

♦ In order to offset the inherent loss in the wide variation in cheap incoming materials, the operations manager has to run his machines right into the ground; right through scheduled downtime for preventive maintenance.  Otherwise, he can't meet his goal to maximize output.

♦ The maintenace manager then gets blamed for unscheduled downtime when the machines break down due to lack of preventive maintenance.  And the three managers hate each others' guts.  And the plant fails to meet its goal for profit.

♦ The goals system as practiced in American industry destroys teamwork.  The purchasing manager cannot meet his goals unless he makes it impossible for the operations manager to meet his goals.  The operations manager cannot meet his goals unless he makes it impossible for the maintenance manager to meet his goals.

♦ You do not optimize a system's performance through sub-optimization.  This should be obvious.  It should be equally obvious that any time to try to optimize one component's performance, you will sub-optimize the system.

♦ I recently witnessed this type of insanity at a large, multi-national company.  During a program's product development effort, management chose not to invest engineering hours in the application of Design Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (DFMEA). Though DFMEA would have helped to anticipate and prevent product failures prior to design release, the engineering department was able to meet its design budget and schedule by skipping the FMEA and saving the money.

♦ Since release of the design, production has suffered more than 90 hours of rework per week.  The rework costs -- that will continue for the entire program -- are not the engineering department's problem, however.  Those costs are charged to the factory manager's budget.

♦ As Dr. Deming was fond of saying, "It's about time for American management to wake up!"

I have no more disheartening an experience in my seminars [for educators] than to have high school teachers come up to me and complain about the lack of skills they see in students coming from their own district’s elementary and middle schools.  I can’t help but wonder, Why are they talking to me?


W. E. Deming, Out of the Crisis, MIT Center for Advanced Engineering Development, Cambridge, MA (1986), pp. 62-64.

J.F. Leonard, The New Philosophy for Education: A Deming Framework for Transforming America's Schools, ASQ Quality Press, Milwaukee, WI (1996), p. 207.

© 2015 James F. Leonard.  All rights reserved.

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