“In God we trust; all others must bring data.” W. Edwards Deming


I came across that Deming quote in a book I’m currently reading, Competing on Analytics: The New Science of Winning.

I had never really heard of Deming, but he is certainly an interesting character, and several of his ideas about systems and management are easily applicable to Business Intelligence and Data Warehousing projects.  For instance, his 14 Points for Management, from Out of the Crisis:

  1. Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service, with the aim to become competitive and stay in business, and to provide jobs.
  2. Adopt the new philosophy. We are in a new economic age. Western management must awaken to the challenge, must learn their responsibilities, and take on leadership for change.
  3. Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality. Eliminate the need for inspection on a mass basis by building quality into the product in the first place.
  4. End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price tag. Instead, minimize total cost. Move towards a single supplier for any one item, on a long-term relationship of loyalty and trust.
  5. Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service, to improve quality and productivity, and thus constantly decrease cost.
  6. Institute training on the job.
  7. Institute leadership. The aim of supervision should be to help people and machines and gadgets to do a better job. Supervision of management is in need of overhaul, as well as supervision of production workers.
  8. Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company.
  9. Break down barriers between departments. People in research, design, sales, and production must work as a team, to foresee problems of production and in use that may be encountered with the product or service.
  10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the work force asking for zero defects and new levels of productivity. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships, as the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the system and thus lie beyond the power of the work force.
  11. a.) Eliminate work standards (quotas) on the factory floor. Substitute leadership. b.) Eliminate management by objective. Eliminate management by numbers, numerical goals. Substitute workmanship.
  12. a.) Remove barriers that rob the hourly worker of his right to pride of workmanship. The responsibility of supervisors must be changed from sheer numbers to quality. b.) Remove barriers that rob people in management and in engineering of their right to pride of workmanship. This means, inter alia, abolishment of the annual or merit rating and of management by objective.
  13. Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement.
  14. Put everyone in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everyone’s work. “Massive training is required to instill the courage to break with tradition. Every activity and every job is a part of the process.”

deming

Check out his lengthy Wikipedia entry for more on his concepts and philosophies.

W. Edwards Deming

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  1. #1 by John Hunter on July 25, 2009 - 4:45 pm

    I have posted some of my thoughts on Deming’s management ideas online, for those that want to learn more about his philosophy.

  2. #2 by Mike S on July 26, 2009 - 2:35 pm

    Thanks, John. The rest of your site is also intriguing – I will be checking it out.

  3. #3 by Hrsikesa Pankaj on June 8, 2013 - 1:07 pm

    In God we trust; all others must bring data.” (Trevor Hastie, Robert Tibshirani, and Jerome Friedman, co-authors of The Elements of Statistical Learning in their Preface to the Second Edition state that: “On the Web, this quote has been widely attributed to both Deming and Robert W. Hayden; however Professor Hayden told us that he can claim no credit for this quote, and ironically we could find no ‘data’ confirming Deming actually said this.”) – The quote in The Elements of Statistical Learning actually reads “In God we trust, all others bring data.”

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