Boundaryless Organization LO22929

AM de Lange (
Thu, 21 Oct 1999 12:36:13 +0200

Replying to LO22907 --

Dear Organlearners,

John Zavacki <> writes:
(in response to Winfried's comment)

>>When Deming stresses that TQM is not what he had in
>>mind and in fact contradicts what he had to say, then this
>>is for me a good example of what can happen. At wrote:
>>"And who are surprised most -- those who stressed one
>>essentiality while not denying the other six."
>Deming wrote of a System of Profound Knowledge based on:
>A Theory of Knowledge
>An Understanding of Variation
>An Appreciation for Systems
>Nowhere in his writing did he mention "TQM". The historical
>basis for this term is in US Department of Defense programmatic
>thinking derived from Val Fiegenbaum's "TQC",........
>Deming's work is still a paramount example of "enlightened"
>management and is the a good part of the foundation for
>Organizational Learning. I have studied Deming's work,
>especially "The New Economics" for years. I have read
>accounts of his students and his clients. I have encountered
>no such "contradiction".
>If you have a citation that shows this "contradiction", please
>share it with the group that we may understand it from our own

Greetings John,

I have not studied Deming as closely as you because I am reading so widely
that I have no time to specialise on one particluar person or even one
particular subject. Furthermore, because I have to read so much, I have no
time to jot down expert citations. So, if you would ask me to provide a
citation, I would have to go to the library and actually search through a
writer's works for a citation of what I at best can only recall by memory.

This would kill me because I would have to focus on that specific search
rather than browsing on a theme in which my interest awakens while doing
that search. It would be like telling a kid to search for some object on a
table laden with confectionary. Thus, should your challenge have been
directed at me rather than Winfried, a very "hollow feeling" would have
immediately exploded within me.

[Perhaps I have to say something more on this "hollow feeling" since our
dialogue is on Learning Organisations. I get this feeling when somebody
dear to me gets lost. I get this feeling when I am given a ticket for
speeding while driving urgently on a lonely road. I get this feeling when
I turn a rock over in the desert and a scorpion underneath it makes a pass
at me. I get this feeling when somebody misinterpret my words deliberately
and then demand a correction from me. I get this feeling when somebody
denigrates my mother tongue. It is not a feeling of "fear" for some
"danger". It is rather a portent (forebode) that I will have to take
strong action to end up with a definite result whereas I rather would have
avoided the situation all together -- to push entropy production as high
as will be needed rather than to use my free energy for less protective
and more productive tasks. I wonder how many of you get this feeling

But I have studied Deming more closely than many acknowledged writers on
management because of his great awareness of "quality" (and a little
less) of "variety" -- the two major facets of the essentiality otherness
(diversity). Usually it is the other way around -- people are more
sensitive to "variety" than "quality" in otherness. Similarly, for
example, in wholeness they are more sensitive to "unity" than
"associativity", or in liveness to "being" than "becoming".

When a person is very aware of a specific essentiality, that person is
usually only moderately aware of the other six essentialities. Deming is
rather unusual complex because I found him also to be remarkedly aware of
liveness ("becoming-being") and wholeness ("monadicity-associativity").

This is one of the reasons why Deming appears to be such an enigmatic
figure to experts on management. By enigmatic I mean that many of these
experts in their "authorative" writings avoid refering to him while others
refer to him on things which he did not regard as important. Another
reason is that Deming does not "qualify as a patriot" since most of his
work (and recognition of its importance) was done in Japan. Perhaps a
third reason has to do with Deming's original training as a statician.
Staticians are trained to avoid patterns and focus on random sampling.
Thus most of Deming's writings have a "chaotic rather than ordered"
(please, I cannot express it any better) appearance. A fourth reason has
to do with Deming's own philosophy on learning. He wrote somewhere, if I
remember correctly, that "practice is more exacting than pure science or

I wonder what his reaction would have been if I had the opportunity to put
it to him that the basis of profound knowledge is experential knowledge.
(Remember that according to my theory of "deep creativity experential
knowledge => tacit knowledge => formal knowledge => sapient knowledge,
where the sign => means "emerge to"). I know that he was fond of quoting
Goethe who said that when an idea (tacit knowledge?) is wanting, somebody
will always find a word (formal knowledge?) in its place. But the concept
of tacit knowledge was formalised almost two hunderd years later by
Michael Polanyi.

I cannot remember that Deming ever used the phrases "total quality
control" or "total quality management". But he certainly used the word
"quality" more than any other thinker on management. He did not use the
word "total" much, but he frequently used many words related to wholeness
(chain, association, unity, entire, ...). He also used the words "control"
and "management" very much, so much so that his use of "control" hindered
me. (Some people might see it as a license to take control of other
people, even though Deming's intention is the opposite.) Does this not
make Deming instrumental in the birth of the concepts TQC and TQM?

But John, you write:

>TQM was NOT what he had in mind. Deming did not write or
>teach about "Quality Management". He wrote about leadership
>and management. He stressed both a quantitative approach and
>a spiritual approach and also wrote that there can be no learning
>without theory.

I have read his book "Out of the Crisis" several times because each time I
had a new angle from which to look at it. He is very apt at creating "rich
pictures". Thus I will not argue that he wrote "there can be no learning
without theory". But he definitely stressed practice as essential to
learning and to theorising. I have made sure of this since I became aware
that most of those people very sensitive to a specific essentiality are
also more inclined to practice than theory and wanted to check this

Perhaps I have looked too subjectively at Deming, but I am not so sure
that Deming stressed a quantitative approach. I remember how thrilled I
was when reading that he wrote mass inspection does not ensure quality --
one of his 14 points for any organisation to become competitive in terms
of quality rather than protection. (I read that at a time when almost
everybody at our university tried to jump on the bandwagon of quantitative
measurements, using them extensively "to make" management successful.)

Another thing which thrilled me was how strongly he spoke out against
using psycological tricks (fear, schedules, slogans, exhortations, peer
pressure) to control workers. I was just beginning to understand in my own
theory of "deep creativity" how entropy production influences creativity
so that when it is produced outside a system it usually has destructive
rather than constructive outcomes. He often stressed factors (pride,
breaking barriers, setting goals) pointing towards internal entropy
production for self-organisation. His understanding of psychology was
very helpful to me in a time before "chaos theory fever" took hold of

I found it peculiar that Deming who was such a creative person had so
little to say on creativity in organisational management. I found it even
more peculiar that he so often meandered between chaos and order, yet had
nothing to say about entropy. I think I eventually understood why -- for
him ideas were much more important than words which are devoid of the very
ideas which they ought to describe.

John, I am deeply under the impression that the picture of the W E Deming
which I have painted above, may be vastly different to the pictures which
others have created about him. I have studied Deming from the viewpoint
of "deep creativity" and found him to to have thought extensively about
things also important to me, but which many others experts on management
seldom even mention. I have found him to be very refreshing and assuring
in my own quest during times when others thought it to be madness. He is
to me one of "my friends from the books" -- persons who know nothing of
me, but who have become dearest friends to me because of how I resonated
to them.

I agree with you that Deming is an outstanding mile post on the road of
understanding Learning Organisations. I want to pay tribute to him with
this contribution. But I also want to warn fellow learners that Deming was
a complex person so that we should be careful not to make simplistic
conclusions about him. (Should he not be complex when even I manage to
find so much "irreversible self-organisation" sense in his writings ;-)

Best wishes


At de Lange <> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

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