The W. Edwards Deming Institute Blog

Deming’s System of Profound Knowledge


The System Of Profound Knowledge® (SoPK) is the culmination of W. Edwards Deming’s lifelong work. The SoPK ties together Dr. Deming’s seminal theories and teachings on quality, management and leadership into four interrelated areas: appreciation for a system, knowledge of variation, theory of knowledge and psychology.

image of the Understanding Profound Knowledge, Deming Library video

Over the next four days we will dedicate a post to each of the four areas of Dr. Deming’s management system.

He laid out this view in his many four day seminars, over the decades and on the Deming Library videos. The New Economics also goes into detail on these topics. While he taught that this system view was the key to implementing his ideas often minor pieces of what he taught are presented as what he taught. One of our goals with the blog is to make it easier for people to learn about not just a few tools that he helped popularize, but to help people adopt the whole management system he presented.

Related: Four Days with Dr. Deming by William Latzko and David SaundersDeming Library starter collection

Categorised as: psychology, systems thinking, theory of knowledge, understanding variation


  1. […] The System Of Profound Knowledge® (SoPK) is the culmination of W. Edwards Deming’s work on management. The four areas of the system are: appreciation for a system, knowledge of variation, theory of knowledge and psychology. This post explores knowledge of variation in the context of Dr. Deming’s management philosophy. […]

  2. […] of posts on Deming’s System of Profound Knowledge by John Hunter: Theory of Knowledge, Psychology (Managing Human Systems), Knowledge of Variation […]

  3. […] articulate the knowledge from which the 14 points were derived.  He described this as the “system of profound knowledge“, the 4 components of: understanding variation, appreciation for a system, psychology and […]

  4. […] Each of the 14 points can be reasoned from an understanding of the 4 areas of the SoPK: appreciation for a system, understanding variation, theory of knowledge and psy…. […]

  5. It is interesting to see the early formulations of Deming’s System of Profound Knowledge… It is easy to see, for example, how the first 3 items above all fit very neatly into understanding variation.

  6. […] also Ian’s explanation of the use of the word profound in the System of Profound Knowledge. “my view is Dr. Deming was using it in the sense in which you can use ‘profound’ […]

  7. […] of the four cornerstones of Dr. Deming’s management system is an understanding of psychology. Dr. Deming continued to learn and adapt based on the latest […]

  8. […] like the 14 Points and the Seven Deadly Diseases. But the way Deming had it defined at the end was Deming’s System of Profound Knowledge, which had four components that were all interrelated and it was one […]

  9. […] Peter wrote two seminal books, both remain relevant years after their publication. The Team Handbook remains one of the best in developing teams and it has helped many organizations to improve quality and productivity through team building. The Leader’s Handbook is one of the best elaborations on Dr. Deming’s System of Profound Knowledge. […]

  10. […] life, to events, to numbers, to interactions between people. Once the individual understands the system of profound knowledge, he will apply its principles in every kind of relationship with other people. He will have a basis […]

  11. […] W. Edwards Deming spent decades refining his thoughts on management and refining how to present those thoughts. That thinking culminated in what he call the System of Profound Knowledge (SoPK). […]

  12. […] Successful transformation from data to information and knowledge touches on all four components of Deming’s System of Profound Knowledge (and the interactions among the […]

  13. […] My view is that the management system must integrate these facets together. A common problem that companies face is that they bring in technical tools (such as control charts, PDSA improvement cycle, design of experiments, kanban, etc.) without an appreciation for the organization as a system. Part of understanding the organization as a system is understanding psychology within this context (as W. Edwards Deming discussed frequently and emphasized in his management system). […]

  14. Gopinath Mavankal says:

    Data science insights through machine learning and AI are tools that enhance the understanding of variation and prediction will make the syntopical understanding that System of Profound Knowledge all the more pertinent, relevant and essential.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.