Who is Edwards Deming?

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March 3, 2023
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Patrick J. Karol,

Who is Edwards Deming, and what does he have to do with safety leadership? Deming drove the quality movement shortly after WWII. He is best known for his work with Japanese managers and engineers. He taught them methods for improving how they worked and learned together between departments and externally with suppliers and customers. Deming was a driving force behind Japan’s post-war industrial transformation. Think Toyota and Datsun.

In 1980, Deming came back to America to drive the quality movement. He played a significant role in the automotive industry’s turnaround. He worked with many industries to implement his management methods, revitalizing corporations such as Ford, Toyota, Xerox, Ricoh, Sony, and Proctor& Gamble.

So, what does Deming have to do with safety leadership and the ASP/CSP exams?

Deming championed the plan, do, check, act (PDCA) process. All safety management systems, including ANSI Z10 and ISO 45001, are designed around Deming’s PDCA process. The linear PDCA cycle is the basis for the ANSIZ10 dynamic, interrelated system. Understanding the elements of Z10 and how they form an interrelated system allows us to avoid evaluating problems in isolation. For example, shop workers are not wearing the prescribed PPE. A linear focus to correct the issue might include a focus on command and control, disciplinary action, and inspections. A systems approach might consist of obtaining employee feedback on the PPE, reviewing options with the supply chain department, and recognizing employees when they use the appropriate PPE. Taking one more step by ensuring management sets the example by wearing PPE at the worksite or shop. Understanding the interrelatedness of Z10 elements, specifically employee engagement, visible leadership, and planning, allows us to solve this problem effectively.

According to the website deming.org, Deming was a visionary whose belief in continual improvement led to transformational theories and teachings that changed how we think about quality, management, and leadership. He believed in a world where there is joy in learning and joy in work - where“everyone will win.” He could also be an answer or answer option on the ASP or CSP exam.

See our ASP and CSP exam materials for learning more about management principles and leadership techniques.