Knowledge Management and TQM LO21860

John Zavacki (
Tue, 8 Jun 1999 04:28:06 -0400

Replying to LO21828 --

When we look back at Deming's work, we can see only that he wrote and
taught management. Not total quality management nor knowledge management,
never naming it anything other than management, where it applied, and
leadership, where it applied. Deming's System of Profound Knowledge
consists of four elements:

An Appreciation for Systems
Theory of Knowledge
An Understanding of Variation

Note that he says "appreciation" not systems dynamics, systems theory,
complexity, or chaos. Note that he says a "theory of Knowledge", that
psychology implies underlying social relationships and the cognitive,
behavioral, and clinical relationships of man to machine, to system, to
community. Finally, albeit grounded in a deep theoretical understanding
of statistics, his own understanding of variation comes to us in an simple
application of statistical methods, commonly known as SPC, or statistical
process control, but better served by the appelation "understanding of
variation". If we compare these elements to those of Senge's Vth
discipline, we have close to identity, as we do when we look at At's

I heard a radio discussion on my way to the factory the other day, in
which the 'expert' business analyst called quality management a 'fad' that
had disappeared in practice. It put me in mind of the cycles of "new
economics" (application of LO or Deming principles) and "old economics"
(the relentless pursuit of the latest data point on the bottom line).
Deming's book "Out of the Crisis" was aptly named. The auto giants
followed the Deming way out of the crisis to regain market share and
profitability. Today, vestigial practices remain in the 'fat, dumb, and
happy' paradigm that got them into the crisis in the first place.

That is a good sign, however. Many good things remain, although the
system has lost it's aim. As the next crisis develops, the next
generation of applied systems thinking will evolve and devolve, leaving
more 'good' practices at the core of the organization. One thing about
this race of humans, we learn a little from every one of our catastrophes.

John F. Zavacki


"John Zavacki" <>

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