A good review of Deming’s teachings

Process ImprovementI have been reading the blog written by Michel Baudin for a few months. It is a source of great information for those with an interest in lean principles (derived from the Toyota Production System).

He started examining in depth each of the 14 points from Deming’s book Out of the Crisis. For those who don’t know Deming, he is “the American expert who went to Japan in 1950, and started the revolution that turned ‘Made in Japan’ from a label for cheap, shoddy goods into a mark of excellence.”

What is really striking to me is that Deming is widely viewed as a “quality guru”, his ideas have been famous for about 30 years in manufacturing circles, and yet very few companies follow his advice!

Here are three of the more interesting points (I wrote the main takeaways below).

End the practice of awarding business on the basis of a price tag

  • Focus on the total cost of ownership, rather than on the individual cost of each product.
  • Try to source one item from 1 supplier. It might be risky, but a supplier shutting down abruptly is not a disaster if managed properly.
  • Single-sourcing certain components is the way to go if the supplier is willing to exchange in-depth information and technical know-how (this exchange should be a two-way street).

Improve Constantly and Forever the system of Production and Service

  • Improvement is an activity that must always be part of the life of any business organization.
  • A factory that practices improvement looks slightly different if you revisit it after six months and is unrecognizable after two years.
  • There seem NOT to be diminishing returns for improvement efforts.
  • Saying that a process has been “optimized” is nonsense. There is always room for improvement.

Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality

  • Quality control does not add any value. Whenever possible, it should be eliminated.
  • Quality should be built into the design of the products and into the processes to manufacture them.
  • Final inspection and test have never completely disappeared, even in the car industry.
  • Deming does not distinguish between inspection and testing, but they probably should. For example, integrated circuits are not inspected by humans but tested on automatic test equipment that, if properly calibrated, provides consistent results.

Other points are explained on michelbaudin.com.


PS: I also learned why sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain are poor translations for the 5S:

- Seiri does not mean Sort. It means removing from the shop floor the items you don’t use routinely.

– Seiton is not too badly mangled by “set in order.” It refers to having assigned locations and labels for everything you retain on the shop floor.

– Seiso means Clean, not Shine. The idea is to have production operators clean their workplace at shift end, so that they notice details like spills, frayed cables, or broken lamps. It is not about making it pretty.

– Seiketsu does not mean Standardize. It is the reduction of the first three S’s to daily practice by management enforcement, through things like checklists and audits.

– Shitsuke does not mean Sustain, and it is not an action but the condition you reach when the performance of the first three S’s has become second-nature to the organization. As long as you tell your kid to brush his teeth every day, you are practicing Seiketsu; once he does it without prompting, you have achieved Shitsuke.

This also comes straight out of one of Michel’s recent articles.