Deming sucks

I can’t stand Deming.

I used to have a mug with his photo on and a snappy quote, but thats all changed now I think he’s dangerous.


Actual Deming. OK

Not the old bald dude who was an actual person who did actual stuff, loads more than I ever will.
This isn’t about him.

No, what I can’t stand is “Deming”. The books, the quotes, the veneration. Urgh.


The veneration. Not OK.

Here are my 5 reasons why “Deming” sucks.



Christing mercy, have you READ “Out of the Crisis”?


No really. The man can’t write. It matters when thats most of what’s left of him, two big books, especially if those two big books are boring as Hell and badly written.

Boring badly written books do not entice managers with a new way of thinking about work.

Then there’s the filmed lectures. Yes, lectures. Quick, to the lecture theatre! There’s an old dead guy speechifying!


 2: Overrated

Lists! I love lists, most of my posts are lists like “7 reasons why this is a list” or “101 things in a list“. Nothing wrong with a list.
Deming had lists too! 14 points for management, 7 Deadly diseases.  These are excellent blog titles with good content and it is a mighty shame they weren’t.

3: He’s an old dead guy

Have you noticed that being old, dead and a guy gives people a massive advantage? Old dead guys are bleedin’ venerated. Fancy becoming a Guru? Get old, be a guy and die.

John Seddon is two thirds the way to guru and when that, hopefully distant, day eventually comes he’ll look down from the sky and watch in bafflement as people who currently shiver at his name become awestruck fans . Like Gore Vidal said when he heard of someones death…”Good career move“.

When a trouble-making curmudgeon dies and becomes a guru, their learning becomes mummified teaching, the sharp snappy things they said become “Quotes”, its all there without any of the inconvenience of the actual person walking around and causing trouble. Instant packaged learning, just add PowerPoint.

I’ve had enough of old dead guys.  As a simple rule of thumb, if old dead guys are dangerously likely to be venerated, I say the future should be their complete opposite,  young alive women.

4: No method.

For a man keen on method, he didn’t offer one himself.
If you want to turn your organisation into the sort described by Deming, and you should, you’ll not find a method on how to do it.
It’s like holding up a photo of a delicious looking cake, describing what it tasted like and saying what is in it…and then not giving you the recipe to make it. Anyone can describe utopia but I’d prefer directions.

5: Plan , Do, Study, What?

CaptureIt makes me retch.

When I hear this intoned I begin to grasp what it feels to be mansplained at. And it is wrong!

As a young Deming Disciple I would be that person intoning the letters at people, little realising that people hear with their brains not their ears. Start anything with the word “Plan” and guess what? People make plans.

Not a plan to get knowledge, but a plan to do. “Right guys, here’s what we are going to do…” It wasn’t until I came across Check Plan Do that I realised why it was all wrong. Start with Get Knowledge, otherwise you’re starting with ignorance. And NEVER include “do” and “act” as if renaming the same thing makes it any different. School boy error Mr Deming.

The thing is so toothless that the Audit Commission included it in their bilge. Avoid.

So that’s my 5 reasons why “Deming” sucks, it is time to move on. It is ALWAYS time to move on and you can’t when you’re tied to the past. If you think this heartless, brainless or tasteless, ask yourself, what would Deming say? Well, to quote an old dead guy…

“We are here to make another world”

Dump the dead guru, he’ll only hold you back.

This entry was posted in deming, John Seddon, systems thinking and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Deming sucks

  1. The System might have got you but it won't catch me says:

    Apologies for resurrecting an old post but I have just read ‘Out of the Crisis’ and I wanted to tell the world how amazing it was (before I read it). Now I have read it – how bloody painful! All that stinking algebra in the last third, really these things called ‘words’ would have been much more appropriate.


  2. Pingback: The secret management model that must not be named | thinkpurpose

  3. Pingback: How soon is now? | thinkpurpose

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