Deming vs. Six Sigma

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    Larry Leach

    I understand the previous posting to make a strong case for Deming vs. Six Sigma. Am I missing something?


    Joe Perito

    Deming taught that management must make a committment to change and that they must promote and support the new mode of attacking problems. There must be continuous improvement, cooperation throughout the organization, and concentration on “quality” rather than “numbers”. He was very big on having “profound knowledge”. By this he was refering to knowing the processes and eqipment, training people, and especially acquiring an in depth knowledge of statistics. He emphasized teamwork as part of the unified ongoing effort. This is my paraphrasing of his famous “14 points”. Of course, his claim to fame was that everything had to be measured and analyzed statistically. He taught SPC to the Japanese after World War II and was accredited with the revolution that turned Japanese products from being “junk” into the best in the world. He was accredited with the change in Japan to such an extent that he was honored by the Japanese by them naming their national quality award after him… “The Deming Prize”. Of couse the Japanese are due most of the credit. They believed what they were taught, they all supported the idea (as they do on so many subjects) and the entire nation made a marvelous effort and success at what they set out to do. So, Deming and six sixma has a lot in common. Six sigma has some extras. Deming insisted you need an in depth knowledge of statistics and taught statistics, but he did not sell a packaged structure of what you need to learn or how to do it such as six sigma does. Deming discouraged accounting and productivity reports insisting that if you concentrate on quality, the production and profits are automatic. Six sigma reviews the numbers throughout the company, sets them to a standardized comparison base (sigmas) so that the efficiency of each department and its affect on the whole can be evaluated. A benefit to this is to recognize where waste, and rework, is increasing or decreasing, department by department, so that the rolling throuhput not only improves in every department but the final output of the company as a whole (as a result of the individual fuctions) all improves simultaneously. Deming was a master organizer, teacher, and statistician. But he did not have the honed, off the shelf, all encompassing, ready to go kit that six sigma is selling. I mean there are good brooms, but the door to door Eureka salesman has it all. My problem with six sigma is the idea that the expertise the title “six sigma black belt” c


    Kevin Mader

    I thank Joe Perito for a responsible contribution. I was disappointed that it got cut short. However, I respectfully disagree on a couple of points or I would like to offer my opinion or make better clarification.

    In the order that they appear:

    Deming System of Profound Knowledge is founded on four principles: Appreciation for a System, Theory of Knowledge, Theory of Variation, and Psychology. You needn’t be a Master in any one of these principles, just aware of how they are interrelated. His 14 Points & 7 Deadly Diseases support the SoPK.

    He did teach SPC to the Japanese, but most of the credit should be given to John Sarasohn who was there 3 years earlier and prepared a training manual still used today by the Japanese. Most all of their work is founded on the contributions of Walter Shewhart.

    Deming was never about “credit” (not that Joe made this distinction). He was a quite humble man.

    Deming and Six Sigma have alot in common – well, maybe if you limit this to statistical practices. I am still trying to learn more about Six Sigma, but at this point, I think that they are more different than alike.

    What numbers are most important in an organization? “Most of the important figures are unknown and unknowable.”, LLoyd Nelson. Does Six Sigma understand this? I haven’t read anything to suggest this.

    As for off the honed, off-the-shelf, all encompassing, ready to go kit – perhaps for some organizations. Also, is it a Philosophy or just packaged tools? Still, I caution anyone reading this that simply put, you should do exhaustive research before deploying any management theory in your organization. What seemingly worked well for one organization won’t necessarily work well in yours. Dr. Deming often said, “There is no instant pudding!”. He was right on this. You must do things for the longterm. Six Sigma from what I have read is about the shortterm, as so stated by Dr. Mikel Harry. Which is it your organization is after? This might help you make your choice.



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