How to Run a More Successful Business the Deming Way

Previously, we shared several of the 14 revolutionary process improvement principles of respected management expert W. Edwards Deming. In this issue, we continue to explore Deming’s insights and how you can use them to improve your business.     

Improve constantly and forever the system of production and design.

Always look for processes that need improvement. This applies to all aspects of a business—from work in the field to work in the back office.

You may have to watch areas of your business over time to detect recurring patterns. For example:

  • Do material failures coincide with weather patterns?
  • Do office mistakes happen more often on Mondays?

Even small changes can have a big impact on the quality of your service and productivity.

Caution: Avoid the knee-jerk reaction of adjusting work systems at the first sign of a problem. Spending energy on what may be a one-off issue is a poor use of time and effort. Instead, focus on issues that occur regularly.

Institute training.

According to  Deming, “The greatest waste in America is the failure to use the abilities of people.” Training employees on the job will help you understand their potential and prepare them to perform at their best. Recognize that people learn in different ways—training may need to take different forms for different employees.

Adopt and institute leadership.

Your business’s supervisors (foremen, lead carpenters, office managers, etc.), must understand the work they are managing. They must also be able to delegate work so that they can focus on the big picture. This may seem obvious, but many companies violate this principle.

Also, resist managing solely by the numbers. Realize that many factors can cause even superstar employees to have down days.

Drive out fear.

Fear impairs performance and can lead to team members lying or fudging numbers when things don’t go as planned.

“I’m scared what the boss will think or do, so I’ll say the deck installation went great. We can blame the homeowner’s Labrador retriever for the scars made from the screw gun.”

False information won’t give you a true sense of what’s going right or wrong in your business.

Also, keep lines of communication open between you and your employees so that they feel comfortable coming to you with questions and concerns.   

Read more about Deming’s principles at