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Total quality management and the Deming approach to quality management

by Peter B Petersen, Keywords Deming
Journal of Management History ()


Beyond the acronyms and "buzz" words of the past two decades the theories of W. Edwards Deming have not only endured, but they are also as applicable today as they were years ago. In addressing current and future challenges Deming's system of profound knowledge provides a solid theoretical framework that lends itself to practical application. Unlike the failed TQM efforts, Deming's theory and practical approaches remain. Reasons for the life and death of TQM will be debated for many years. This article contributes to this debate by comparing TQM with the Deming approach to quality management. "Deming emphasized these views during his many training sessions during the Second World War. In 1942, he originated his red bead experiment and used this demonstration, in his many courses at 23 universities, to help the war effort. The red bead experiment requires 800 red beads and 3,200 white beads. Volunteers from the class are asked to use a paddle with 50 depressions to draw 50 beads from a mixture of the red and white beads. Before drawing the beads, volunteers are instructed to draw only white beads when they dunk their paddle into the mixture. Unfortunately, when the volunteers drew out their paddles red beads were mixed with the white beads. The point to be made is that the system needs to be corrected; that is, red beads should not be included when the mixture is prepared. The essence of the lessons learned from the red bead experiment are summarized below:

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