W. Edwards Deming Quotes

Quotes in leadership

There are four prongs of quality and four ways to improve quality of product and service:

- Innovation in product and service
- Innovation in process
- Improvement of existing product and service
- Improvement of existing process

The common mistake is the supposition that quality is ensured by No. 4, improvement of process, that operations going off without blemish on the factory floor, in the bank, in the hotel will ensure quality. Good operations are essential, yet they do not ensure quality. Quality is made in the boardroom.

A bank that failed last week may have had excellent operations— speed at the tellers’ windows with few mistakes; few mistakes in bank statements; likewise in the calculation of interest and of penalties and loans. The cause of failure at the bank was bad management, not operations.


Profit in business comes from repeat customers, customers that boast about your product and service, and that bring friends with them.


A company could put a top man at every position and be swallowed by a competitor with people only half as good, but who are working together.


Long-term commitment to new learning and new philosophy is required of any management that seeks transformation. The timid and the fainthearted, and people that expect quick results, are doomed to disappointment.


the aim of leadership should be to improve the performance of man and machine, to improve quality, to increase output, and simultaneously to bring pride of workmanship to people. Put in a negative way, the aim of leadership is not merely to find and record failures of men, but to remove the causes of failure: to help people to do a better job with less effort.


The greatest waste in America is failure to use the abilities of people.


Deming’s First Theorem: “Nobody gives a hoot about profits.”
Deming’s Second Theorem: “We are being ruined by best efforts.”


As I use the term here, the job of a leader is to accomplish transformation of his organization. He possesses knowledge, personality, and persuasive power.


To manage one must lead. To lead, one must understand the work that he and his people are responsible for.


Top management should publish a resolution that no one will lose his job for contribution to quality and productivity.