Boundaryless Organization LO22994

Walter Prevalnig (
Mon, 25 Oct 1999 22:55:57 -0400

Replying to LO22929 --

Dear At,

John Zavacki writes:
>Nowhere in his writing did he mention "TQM".
>If you have a citation that shows this "contradiction", please
>share it with the group that we may understand it from our own

At writes:

> 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.

There is no need to do extensive research. We can use Deming' s own words.
At his seminars, whenever someone credited Deming with being "the father
of TQM" he would immediately interject with "Where have I ever mentioned
those words?".

> 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.

One of the key insights we get from Deming is to look for patterns. This
is one of the purposes of the control chart developed by Walter Shewhart.

>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").

The basis of Deming's PDSA cycle (Plan,Do,Study, Act) as far as I know is
congruent with the above statement.

Deming teaches us that experiential knowledge is essential, however, if we
are going to work together ( or any other form of co-operation), we need
agreement upon the concepts expressed in our formal knowledge. To do this
he introduced us to the use of "operational definitions".

Furthermore, he knew that traditional trial and error in the application
of any knowledge to a system, is very expensive. So he gave us the PDSA
cycle to verify knowledge claims through the use of prediction.

> 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.)

You are exactly right, and this may help. We have been taught to believe
that we can control systems and should manage people. This is contrary to
Deming's teaching.

Deming's operational definition for the word "control" as it relates to a
process or a system has its basis in knowledge, and not the physical or
coercive act of an individual. He teaches that "control" comes from our
knowledge of the system. We have control if we know how the various
elements of our system interact to produce the output. When we know that,
then we have control, because we can predict the effect of any proposed
action on the system.

Deming was well aware of chaos. Walter Shewhart taught him in the 1920's
that any system is comprised of random processes. In a stable state the
system is predictable into the near future. He gave us the control chart
to measure this stability. Again , our control come from our knowledge of
our system. If it is stable we can predict the near future, we know what
the system is capable of producing, and we can see if anything has
changed. This is what Deming means by control. When we try to " control"
the system, trying to make it do something that it is not capable of, we
are tampering, we frustrate everyone and only make things worse.

He also taught that we must manage systems, not people.
People deserve leadership.

At , your post brought many other thoughts to mind but this is enough for

Thanks and best regards,


"Building Learning Organizations"
Visit our website at: < >


Walter Prevalnig <>

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <>