Deming’s 14 Points In Small Manufacturing – Part 5: Driving Improvement with People Management

Last updated Nov 10, 2021

demings people management
Dr. Deming continues his focus on eliminating the separation between management and the shop floor. His focus on leadership and management involvement translates well into today’s lean manufacturing environment where staff is limited and no time can be wasted. Deming continues to challenge the leadership, not the employees, with driving improvement. The update to ISO 9001 has a similar focus in its attempt to increase management engagement in the quality system and to ensure that the QMS fits with the business plan. His next two points focus on the tactical factory floor leadership. Eliminate work standards on the factory floor. Substitute leadership. Eliminate management by objective. Eliminate management by numbers. This may be one of the more difficult points to understand as many leaders are taught to set objectives and define goals but Deming believed that work standards would stifle improvement efforts once that goal was achieved. Work standards may force employees to meet either the customer requirements or the process requirements when in reality both should be considered. The customer may be unhappy but you are working quickly or the processing time is increased to meet customer demand and costs are increased. The ability to meet the customer’s needs at an agreeable price is only possible when the focus is on improvement of processes instead of specific outcomes. Company leadership must be listening to the customer and always driving costs out of the system. Institute leadership. The aim of leadership should be to help people, machines and gadgets to do a better job. Supervision of management is in need of overhaul, as well as supervision of production workers. Line and floor supervisors are often identified as ‘people without a country’ as they may not be considered a part of the upper management team and they may not be considered a part of the shop personnel. This often leads to miscommunication between the line supervisor in either direction, telling management that the workers ‘do not care’ and telling the workers that management ‘doesn’t know what it is doing.’ These individuals are the front line for training and must have an understanding of management expectations, the individual processes they are overseeing and statistical techniques to avoid increase variation in the process. Deming asks us to focus on people management instead of objective management as described above and give the middle management the tools to make this a reality.
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Adam Marsh

Adam Marsh

President, Ledge Inc.

Adam is a Penn State engineer that has served as a Data Analyst and Engineer at St. Onge Company for 5 years, prior to establishing Ledge Inc. While maintaining a focus on simple solutions, Ledge Inc. has provided quality system implementation, process design, database development, quality tools, quality training, and data analysis to over 35 companies in South Central Pennsylvania and throughout the country. Adam currently serves as the sitting Chair for American Society for Quality Harrisburg Section 503 and as a member of the board for The Manufacturers’ Associations of South Central PA.



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