Deming Principles to Drive Success in 2020

In the past few issues of our newsletter, we shared eight of W. Edwards Deming’s 14 principles for improving productivity and work quality. In this edition, we’ll wrap up our Deming series with a focus on the final six principles.

Break down barriers between departments.

It’s critical for all people in a business to work as a team and recognize potential problems that pose risks to the production or quality of a product or service.

No matter the size of a business, it’s essential to have a free flow of information among team members. Companies need to remove the knowledge silos that prevent communication between departments. For example, a contractor’s salesperson must communicate everything discussed with a homeowner about a deck project to make sure installers will build the deck to meet the exact expectations of the customer.

Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the workforce.

Demanding perfection and putting too much pressure on performance can create strained relationships. Often, low quality and low productivity are results of faulty systems or processes rather than workers’ negligence.

While it may be simple to say, “We need to reduce mistakes,” that demand won’t happen without management giving a road map—a strategy—for eliminating mistakes. For example, you might request that both the saw-man and the measure-man check the board size before cutting. “Measure twice, cut once” is an oldie-but-goodie phrase that can solve a lot of issues.

Eliminate “management by objective” on the production floor; lead instead.

Even companies with small crews can fall into the habit of holding workers accountable for quotas and numerical goals. But quotas and goals without strategies to reach them is a lazy way to manage teams. And, it’s a sure-fire recipe for creating unhappy workers and rushed work.

Rather than announcing a number and hoping workers will step up production to reach it, fix the kinks in the system that are preventing growth. Focus on how to improve the way things get done before setting goals for how much improvement you’d like to see.

Remove barriers that rob employees of their right to pride of workmanship—and get rid of the merit or annual rating system.

This applies to hourly laborers as well as management and engineering teams. The responsibility of supervisors should be on the quality of work rather than reaching numbers.

Make sure workers have a clear understanding of what “quality” means in the context of whatever task is at hand. Tools that can help them grasp what they need to do include updated drawings, manuals, checklists, videos, and other
resources that deliver an explanation of expectations.

Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement.

Attend shows, read trade magazines, and provide workers with opportunities to attend training events and classes
to hone their knowledge and skills. Homestead Outdoor Products is here to help with that! We will have a breakfast-n-learn program every month this summer at the New Holland Coffee Shop. Look for details soon!

Put everyone to work accomplishing the transformation.

By including everyone in the process of making improvements, you can set the stage for a team that works together toward the common goal of becoming better. Let your employees know how each of them is an important part of your success.

Stay tuned for our series on Stephen R. Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, starting in our next newsletter!