Deming’s 14 Points In A Nutshell

Deming’s 14 points, also known as the Deming model of quality management, is the brainchild of American engineer, professor, statistician, and management consultant Edwards Deming.  Deming’s 14 points clarify how an organization can transform into a more efficient and optimized management style.

Understanding Deming’s 14 points 

After the conclusion of World War II, Deming traveled to Japan where he played a pivotal role in the country’s economic recovery.

More specifically, Deming visited manufacturing companies and used statistical analysis to increase productivity and reduce expenses.

Deming took what he learned in Japan and developed the “Systems of Profound Knowledge” which are comprised of 14 key principles for management.

These principles, which were first presented in the 2000 book Out of the Crisis, enable companies to transition from the present style of management to one of optimization. 

Deming’s 14 points of quality management

Deming’s 14 points serve as principles that any organization can follow as part of total quality management (TQM) implementation.

Each principle is transformative, emphasizes leadership, and prioritizes quality. Each is also interconnected, which means they are most effective when applied at the same time.

With that said, let’s take a brief look at the principles below.

1 – Create constancy of purpose toward improvement

Rather than devising short-term solutions, organizations should think long-term and continuously focus on enhancing their products and services.

2 – Adopt the new philosophy

This calls on management to choose to no longer accept the current or ingrained level of delays, mistakes, or defects that arise from workers or materials.

3 – Cease dependence on inspections

Prevention of defects is a better option than trying to detect them. Statistical evidence can then prove that quality is built into processes. 

4 – Use a single supplier for any one item

When companies deal with multiple suppliers, the likelihood of variation increases.

The best course of action is to develop long-term relationships with fewer suppliers based on the quality level of their output.

Businesses should never enter into relationships with suppliers based on cost considerations alone.

Further to the point above, suppliers who cannot provide statistical evidence of exceptional quality should be avoided.

5 – Improve constantly and forever

This means constant evaluation and improvement of systems and processes to maximize productivity. It involves every level of the organization.

6 – Institute on-the-job training

On-the-job training enables the organization to build a solid foundation of common knowledge.

Investment in training also helps employees understand the meaning of consistency and their role in the context of broader objectives. 

7 – Institute leadership

Deming’s idea of a leader is one who takes an active role in removing the causes of failure.

Leaders must also strive to coach subordinates on the best course of action and help them reach their full potential.

8 – Eliminate fear

Management by fear may be somewhat effective in the short term but is counterproductive in the long term.

Eventually, employees will not act in the organization’s best interests.

9 – Break down barriers between departments

Quality products and services require collaboration and cooperation across multiple departments.

To facilitate this, Deming created the “internal customer” concept where each department (or function) is in service to any other that uses its outputs.

10 – Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets

Slogans such as “Excellence in service” are vague and leave employees wondering what is required of them.

What’s more, exhortations directed toward employees without an associated improvement in processes creates conflict and resentment.

Leaders should outline their expectations face-to-face and let people know exactly what is required of them from the start. 

11 – Eliminate quotas and numerical targets

Companies need to consider how the process is carried out and avoid becoming preoccupied with targets.

Deming noted that production targets favor high output but low quality. To increase quality, the necessary support and resources must be in place.

12 – Remove barriers to pride of workmanship

This means all employees can take pride in their work which is not rated or compared to the work of others. 

Instead of using reward systems to encourage quality output, use the quality systems themselves.

13 – Institute education and self-improvement programs

Employee education is essential if an organization is to continuously improve. Education is a form of self-development that increases performance and morale and opens up new growth opportunities.

14 – Make transformation everyone’s job

Lastly, Deming noted that everyone is responsible for transformation since organizations and the departments they comprise are interconnected.

Leaders must drive the process and allow employees to build the trust and skills to confidently implement new ideas.

Key takeaways:

  • Deming’s 14 points clarify how an organization can transform into a more efficient and optimized management style.
  • Deming’s 14 points serve as principles that any organization can follow as part of total quality management (TQM) implementation. Each principle is transformative, emphasizes leadership, and prioritizes quality.
  • Some of Deming’s 14 points relate to long-term thinking, avoidance of fear-based management, and the elimination of slogans, exhortations, quotas, and numerical targets.

Read Next: OKRSMART Goals.

Related Organizational Frameworks


Andy Grove, helped Intel become among the most valuable companies by 1997. In his years at Intel, he conceived a management and goal-setting system, called OKR, standing for “objectives and key results.” Venture capitalist and early investor in Google, John Doerr, systematized in the book “Measure What Matters.”

Smart Goals

A SMART goal is any goal with a carefully planned, concise, and trackable objective. To be such a goal needs to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based. Bringing structure and trackability to goal setting increases the chances goals will be achieved, and it helps align the organization around those goals.


Micromanagement is about tightly controlling or observing employees’ work. Although this management style might be understood in some cases, especially for small-scale projects, generally speaking, micromanagement has a negative connotation mainly because it shows a lack of trust and freedom in the workplace, which leads to adverse outcomes.

Delegative Leadership

Developed by business consultants Kenneth Blanchard and Paul Hersey in the 1960s, delegative leadership is a leadership style where authority figures empower subordinates to exercise autonomy. For this reason, it is also called laissez-faire leadership. In some cases, this leadership type can lead to increased work quality and decision-making. In a few other cases, this type of leadership needs to be balanced out to prevent a lack of direction and cohesiveness in the team.

Agile Leadership

Agile leadership is the embodiment of agile manifesto principles by a manager or management team. Agile leadership impacts two important levels of a business. The structural level defines the roles, responsibilities, and key performance indicators. The behavioral level describes the actions leaders exhibit to others based on agile principles. 

Active Listening

Active listening is the process of listening attentively while someone speaks and displaying understanding through verbal and non-verbal techniques. Active listening is a fundamental part of good communication, fostering a positive connection and building trust between individuals.

Adaptive Leadership

Adaptive leadership is a model used by leaders to help individuals adapt to complex or rapidly changing environments. Adaptive leadership is defined by three core components (precious or expendable, experimentation and smart risks, disciplined assessment). Growth occurs when an organization discards ineffective ways of operating. Then, active leaders implement new initiatives and monitor their impact.

RASCI Matrix

A RASCI matrix is used to assign and then display the various roles and responsibilities in a project, service, or process. It is sometimes called a RASCI Responsibility Matrix. The RASCI matrix is essentially a project management tool that provides important clarification for organizations involved in complex projects.

Flat Organizational Structure

In a flat organizational structure, there is little to no middle management between employees and executives. Therefore it reduces the space between employees and executives to enable an effective communication flow within the organization, thus being faster and leaner.

Tactical Management

Tactical management involves choosing an appropriate course of action to achieve a strategic plan or objective. Therefore, tactical management comprises the set of daily operations that support long strategy delivery. It may involve risk management, regular meetings, conflict resolution, and problem-solving.

High-Performance Management

High-performance management involves the implementation of HR practices that are internally consistent and aligned with organizational strategy. Importantly, high-performance management is a continual process where several different but integrated activities create a performance management cycle. It is not a process that should be performed once a year and then hidden in a filing cabinet.

Scientific Management

Scientific Management Theory was created by Frederick Winslow Taylor in 1911 to encourage industrial companies to switch to mass production. With a background in mechanical engineering, he applied engineering principles to workplace productivity on the factory floor. Scientific Management Theory seeks to find the most efficient way to perform a workplace job.

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