W. Edwards Deming Quotes

Quotes in management

Best efforts are essential. Unfortunately, best efforts, people charging this way and that way without guidance of principles, can do a lot of damage.


A good question for anybody in business to ask is What business are we in? To do well what we are doing-i.e., to turn out a good product, or good service, whatever it be? Yes, of course, but this is not enough. We must keep asking - What product or service would help our customers more? We must think about the future. What will we be making 5 years from now? 10 years from now?


management by numerical goal is an attempt to manage without knowledge of what to do, and in fact is usually management by fear.


Management of a system requires knowledge of the interrelationships between all of the components within the system and of everybody that works in it.


It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.


Quality is made in the board room. A worker can deliver lower quality, but she cannot deliver quality better than the system allows.


It is not enough to do your best; you must know what to do, and then do your best.


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.


Data are not taken for museum purposes; they are taken as a basis for doing something. If nothing is to be done with the data, then there is no use in collecting any. The ultimate purpose of taking data is to provide a basis for action or a recommendation for action. The step intermediate between the collection of data and the action is prediction.