February 2002

Vol. 4, No. 2

Six Sigma and More:
What Would Deming Do (continued)?

by David R. Schwinn

The folks from Lansing’s Capital Quality Initiative (Michigan) recently asked me what, if anything, Deming has to do with Six Sigma. As I pondered my response, I realized that I started considering that question in the Six Sigma and More column in July, 2001, when I began to use Deming’s 14 Points and 7 Deadly Diseases as the framework for a series of columns. With one thing and another distracting attention, I addressed the first of the 14 Points and then wandered off into other topics. Now I’d like to get back to that original framework, and see where it goes.

Point #2: Adopt the new philosophy

After an amazing level of congruence between Deming’s Point #1: Constancy of purpose and Six Sigma, Point #2 may surface more difference than similarity. In Point #2, Deming states, “We can no longer tolerate commonly accepted levels of mistakes, defects, material not suited for the job…” (Out of the Crisis, Cambridge, Mass: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Center for the Advancement of Engineering Study, 1986). Sounds like Six Sigma to me. But at the end of his discussion, we begin to see a difference between his philosophy and that of Six Sigma. Deming concluded his discussion of Point #2 with “Transformation is required--adoption of the 14 points, and riddance of the deadly diseases and obstacles described in Chapter 3.”

Below is a summary of the 14 Points and the Deadly Diseases, to clarify these references.

The 14 Points

  1. Create constancy of purpose for improvement of product and service.
  2. Adopt the new philosophy.
  3. Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality.
  4. End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price tag alone. Instead, minimize total cost of working with a single supplier.
  5. Improve constantly and forever every process for planning, production, and service.
  6. Institute training on the job.
  7. Adopt and institute leadership.
  8. Drive out fear.
  9. Break down barriers between staff areas.
  10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the work force.
  11. Eliminate numerical quotas for the work force and numerical goals for management.
  12. Remove barriers that rob people of pride of workmanship. Eliminate the annual rating or merit system.
  13. Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement for everyone.
  14. Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation.

Enumeration of the Deadly Diseases

  1. Lack of constancy of purpose to plan product and service that will have a market and keep the company in business, and provide jobs.
  2. Emphasis on short-term profits: short-term thinking (just the opposite from constancy of purpose to stay in business), fed by fear of unfriendly takeover, and by push from bankers and owners for dividends.
  3. Evaluation of performance, merit rating, or annual review.
  4. Mobility of management: job-hopping.
  5. Management by use only of visible figures, with little or no consideration of figures that are unknown or unknowable.
  6. Excessive medical costs.
  7. Excessive costs of liability, swelled by lawyers that work on contingency fees.

Let us compare Six Sigma to this philosophy with a simple and, I think, elegant description of Six Sigma provided by James Lucas, a Grand Master Black Belt, in his article “The Essential Six Sigma” (Quality Progress, Milwaukee, WI: American Society for Quality, January, 2002). Dr. Lucas states that “Fundamentally, Six Sigma is a methodology for disciplined quality improvement.” He goes on, “…many companies find adding a Six Sigma program to their current business system gives them all or almost all the elements of TQM.”

I think you will agree that there is a pretty obvious difference between superimposing Six Sigma over a current business system and Deming’s philosophy, which requires adoption of the 14 Points and an attack on the Deadly Diseases. When Deming was asked, shortly before his death, who had adopted his philosophy, his answer, as it had always been, was simple and emphatic, “No one!” I doubt that much has changed. If readers can prove me wrong, I’d love to hear about it. I’m at support@pqsystems.com


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