Deming’s 14 Points – Business Improvement through Quality Control: Part 3 – Points 11-14

Douglas C. Fair
By Douglas C. Fair | October 26, 2020
Chief Operating Officer

Fact checked by Stephen O'Reilly

In parts one and two of this series, we discussed the first ten of Dr. Deming’s 14 Points: from changing your organization’s focus toward quality and wholeheartedly adopting that philosophy, to moving past using inspection to achieve quality, dealing with vendors, right up to changing your culture and leadership. Please feel free to double-check those two blogs if you need a refresher before continuing…
 
With that brief summation behind us, let’s get right to Dr. Deming’s points 11 through 14.
 
[Note: If you haven’t read the foundation of his thoughts, what he called the “System of Profound Knowledge,” I urge you to do so.]
Dr. Deming's 14 Points

Without Structure, Quotas Don’t Help

Point number 11: “Eliminate numerical quotas for the workforce and numerical goals for management.” To put it bluntly, unless systems are changed, quotas are not compatible with quality in production environments. Yes, you do need to have some numerical targets, but for many (too many) companies, setting quotas has replaced competent leadership.
 
Dr. Deming's Points 11-14Arbitrary goals that lack structure and systemic support generate empty expectations. Goals, by themselves, cannot generate improvements. If an operator is paid by the piece, but their machinery physically limits production to (for instance) 85 items per hour, then instituting a quota of 100 items per hour is ludicrous. The operator may try to work harder and faster, but if limitations exist in the system, then the manufacturing machinery itself stands in the way of achieving results that meet the quota. Employees become rightly frustrated, even angry, when quotas are required of them and yet no substantive systemic changes are made to support goal achievement.
 
Productivity is the responsibility of management. If management teams viewed their company as a holistic system that generated production, then they would probably focus on improving the entire system. But that is not always how management teams view their organizations. Dr. Deming always urged management to focus on processes—the “systems” of a company. In our example above, think of the operator’s machinery as a system. The operator is there to operate the machine. If the machine needs to be improved, updated, or replaced, that is the responsibility of management, not the operator.
 
Yes, of course, the end product is very important. But if you focus on improving and expanding the efficiencies of the processes that create the products, then greater production can be attained. Again, if you are determined to improve efficiencies and productivity, management needs to focus on improving systems.
 
InfinityQS quality intelligence software can help. Our software products were designed to help reveal information hidden in your data that can help management teams prioritize company-wide quality initiatives that can improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and quality of processes.
 
As I mentioned in part one of this series, actionable information is what you need to better control and improve your processes. Actionable information is the “big picture” of quality. In the blog, “SPC: Hunting the Big Picture and the Big Payoff,” I go into great detail about this. “The way to get the big picture view of your organization is with data aggregation. Data aggregation is rolling up data across your manufacturing enterprise and uncovering where the greatest opportunities exist for reducing waste, reducing costs, and improving quality. This is how you get a huge return on your statistical process control (SPC) investment.”
 
That’s the key, right? Getting the most out of your investment in quality, while focusing on the processes that shape the quality of your products. InfinityQS’ quality intelligence software empowers manufacturers to control processes and make continuous improvement across their entire operation. “Extract the most from your quality system—that’s the key to saving money, cutting down on scrap and waste, and transforming your organization’s performance.” I think Dr. Deming would approve.
Quality and Process Improvement

Pride in Your Work

Dr. Deming believed strongly that taking pride in your work is essential to quality and process improvement. Hence, point number twelve: “Remove barriers that rob people of pride of workmanship, and eliminate the annual rating or merit system.” I think it’s only natural that some workers will perform better (and get better results) than others. Sure, it’s great to recognize individual achievements, but you certainly don’t want the rest of the team to feel like they are any less valued. Your quality system, according to Dr. Deming, will ultimately get everyone working up to the same standard.
 
But what about other barriers to team morale? Like problems with your processes? Operators are expected to produce a certain amount of product every day or hour, right? But what if input from suppliers, or tools that they need to do their job, just aren’t up to snuff? Then delivering on their production goals becomes a frustration, to say the least.
 
If a process is flawed anywhere—whether it’s supplied materials, packaging, machine maintenance issues, or any other details that can bring quality down—then the process needs closer scrutiny. Finding the issues, no matter where they lie, must be your focus—in order to fix your process, improve quality, and thereby keep everyone (including your customers) happy.
 
Production managers, this inevitably falls to you. I’ve walked the floors of hundreds of plants around the world, and I’ve seen (and heard from) many unhappy workers. They want to make a great product. They want to support the company and customers with high quality products. But they are hampered by problematic systems that prevent them from creating the best products possible.
 
If you really want to improve quality, then production management teams need to focus on improving systems, which in turn helps the people who work for you do their jobs to the best of their abilities. That includes utilizing a quality management system that provides you and your team members with the information they need to improve product quality.  
InfinityQS Quality Intelligence Solutions in Action 
InfinityQS quality intelligence systems—Enact® and ProFicient—have you covered:
  • Enact is an award-winning, cloud-based, real-time SPC solution that provides manufacturers with unified quality data, visibility across lines, products, and sites, actionable information, and true understanding of your processes. Enact is user-, budget-, IT-, and mobile-friendly, and enables manufacturers to quickly and easily reduce costs, increase profitability, and enhance brand reputation—all at an affordable price.
  • ProFicient provides ultimate flexibility: it comes in an on-premises and an on-demand (cloud) format. This industry-leading, real-time SPC solution provides manufacturers with an understanding of the performance and capability of their vital manufacturing processes. It provides flexible data collection options, hundreds of unique control charts, advanced alarms and notifications, comprehensive reporting tools, and is highly configurable.
 

Education and Self-Improvement

As mentioned in part two of this series, Dr. Deming points to on-the-job training as an important facet of manufacturing quality. And Dr. Deming also advocates self-improvement (which I believe is more than just training). When people are learning things that are relevant to their jobs, your business, and their role in your business, their capabilities improve, and they are better able to face the challenges your organization may encounter.
 
Of course, the kind of educational programs you’re willing to sponsor is completely up to you and your organization—but if your workers identify additional educational programs that can help your company while enabling them to expand their individual skills, you may have found a way to support them and your overall goal of improving efficiencies and quality. The key will be listening to their recommendations and collaboratively mapping out the educational paths best suited to helping you achieve both goals.
 
Your business won’t always remain the same, and the new skills your employees gain could prove helpful in the long-term. I agree with Dr. Deming: the better the quality of the skillsets (i.e., employees) at your company, the better the overall product and service quality you can deliver to your customers.
Manufacturing Plant Floor

Transformation For All

Dr. Deming’s last of his 14 points is “Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation.” As we’ve discussed, to improve quality, consistency, and productivity, management needs to focus on improving systems and processes. However, when it comes to finding the solutions to systemic issues, Dr. Deming believes it’s best to get as much input as possible from the folks who create your products.
 
But I don’t think that he meant to suggest that important improvement decisions be based solely on opinion or anecdotal evidence. Instead, important process improvement decisions should be based on information—what we call “Quality Intelligence.” With the quality intelligence that is generated by InfinityQS software, your quality professionals and frontline associates are armed with scientific evidence that can be used to make recommendations and changes based on fact. InfinityQS’ quality intelligence software provides a common language—based on data—that provides the foundation for systemic quality improvement.
 
My colleague, Eric Weisbrod, InfinityQS VP of Product Management, mentions in his Control Charts: Who Needs ‘Em? blog, “Control charts tell the story of your process. That may be the biggest reason that people still love them (everybody loves a good story).” Process Event Paretos, Box and Whisker Plots, and Data Stream Grading in Enact can provide all the common language you need to discuss your processes and how to possibly improve them. Pareto charts “summarize events to allow users to see where problems are happening and ‘slice and dice’ those by different criteria (e.g. site, feature, part, shift, etc.). Box and Whisker Plots allow you to compare different data in various ways that a control chart just can’t accomplish.”
 
And Enact Data Stream Grading is a way in which our software can “really simplify looking at process performance. You can easily review quality data across your enterprise. It’s simple to drill-down from region, to site level, to machine, to an individual data stream so that you can identify where process improvements can have the most impact on product yield.” If you’ve got the right tools, the right data—and you’re all speaking the same language—you can gain even more insight into how to generate greater, faster efficiencies across all your operations.
Success Through Quality

Thank You

Thanks for joining me for this trip into Dr. Deming’s core thoughts on quality, a subject that is near and dear to my heart. It’s been great revisiting these points, and they are still relevant today. Dr. Deming was truly a remarkable man who shared his system of profound knowledge and quality excellence—ideas that have changed manufacturing operations for the better.
 
Please feel free to read the other entries in this blog series:  
Take advantage of the technology at your fingertips today: contact one of our account managers (1.800.772.7978 or via our website) for more information.
 

 
 

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