Channeling W. Edwards Deming

A thought crossed my mind today — that I am channeling W. Edwards Deming to my industry: construction.  I realized that I am more interested in the creation of quality process improvements, value add and working with people than directly in the creation of a good Building Information Model.  A friend in Vietnam explained quality to me: “meet the requirements”.  That’s all it is.  And I am working on a project that currently has a poor safety record: Same answer: “meet the requirements”.  So it can be measured and graded, just like school work, and it can be “Six Sigma”:

F — failure to meet the requirements (One sigma — 31 % passing)

D — almost meeting the requirements (Two sigma — 69% passing)

C (A-) — meet the requirements (3 sigma –93.3% passing)

B (A)– exceed the requirements (4 sigma 99. 3% pass)

A ++++ — delight the customer (5 sigma –99.97% pass)

  1. Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service, with the aim to become competitive, stay in business and to provide jobs.  Give the client the best job on budget, ahead of schedule and meeting or exceeding the requirements (faster, better, cheaper). Not two out of three, but all three concurrently.  I know it can be done because I have seen it done.
  2. Adopt the new philosophy. We are in a new economic age. Western management must awaken to the challenge, must learn their responsibilities, and take on leadership for change.  LEAN management is not command and control management.
  3. Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality. Eliminate the need for massive inspection by building quality into the product in the first place.  Meet the requirements in an ongoing way.
  4. End the practice of awarding business on the basis of a price tag. Instead, minimize total cost. Move towards a single supplier for any one item, on a long-term relationship of loyalty and trust.  This is not done in construction today much, mostly price-based selection.
  5. Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service, to improve quality and productivity, and thus constantly decrease costs.  Each job is unique, and no lessons are learned due to turnover of subcontractors and staff.  No feedback into the system.
  6. Institute training on the job.  Construction is trained by by people without training.
  7. Institute leadership The aim of supervision should be to help people and machines and gadgets do a better job. Supervision of management is in need of overhaul, as well as supervision of production workers.
  8. Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company.  This requires true communication.
  9. Break down barriers between departments. People in research, design, sales, and production must work as a team, in order to foresee problems of production and usage that may be encountered with the product or service.
  10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the work force asking for zero defects and new levels of productivity. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships, as the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the system and thus lie beyond the power of the work force.
  11. a. Eliminate work standards (quotas) on the factory floor. Substitute with leadership.
    b. Eliminate management by objective. Eliminate management by numbers and numerical goals. Instead substitute with leadership.
  12. a. Remove barriers that rob the hourly worker of his right to pride of workmanship. The responsibility of supervisors must be changed from sheer numbers to quality.
    b. Remove barriers that rob people in management and in engineering of their right to pride of workmanship. This means, inter alia,” abolishment of the annual or merit rating and of management by objective (See Ch. 3 of “Out of the Crisis”).
  13. Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement.
  14. Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everybody’s job.


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