The W. Edwards Deming Institute Blog

The Development of Deming’s Management System

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Jan 24 1989 – first presentation of Deming’s “System of Profound Knowledge

  1. Knowledge of variation; statistical theory
  2. Knowledge of the distinction between common causes and special causes
  3. Knowledge about the loss from tampering
  4. Knowledge about the interaction of forces
  5. Knowledge of operational definitions
  6. Knowledge psychology
  7. Knowledge of cooperation and its benefits

It is interesting to see the early formulations of Deming’s System of Profound Knowledge. Doing so also illustrates that the process worked well. From this list of 7 to a much more detailed list and then coalescing to the four interrelated components we know so well. It is easy to see, for example, how the first 3 items above all fit very neatly into understanding variation. The earlier formulations to provide some insight into things like how important the concept of operational definitions is (which I see as having become “theory of knowledge”). “Knowledge of cooperation and its benefits” and “Knowledge about the interaction of forces” became “appreciation for a system.”

The New Economics, page 94:

The System of Profound Knowledge provides a lens. It provides a new map of theory by which to understand and optimize that we work in, and thus to make a contribution to the whole country.

Mike Tveite: “The System of Profound Knowledge is, in fancy terms, meta knowledge. It is not specific knowledge. Not knowledge of answers. Rather it is knowledge that leads to questions. It causes you to ask different questions and then you can use subject matter knowledge to come up with your answers.”


“I achieved my goal by not my aim. That happens a lot, we honestly translate aims to goals. And then we do stupid things in the name of the goal get it the way of the aim. We forget the aim sometimes and put the goal in its place.”

Related: Enumerative and Analytic StudiesThe Essential Deming, Book on Dr. Deming’s Work edited by Joyce OrsiniSpeech by Dr. Deming to Japanese Business Leaders in 1950


Categorised as: Dr. Deming, psychology, system of profound knowledge, systems thinking, understanding variation, video


13 Comments

  1. Leah Yablong says:

    Nice post. Mike is captivating speaker!

  2. tim higgins says:

    Thanks for assembling this material in one place. It makes it easier to access. And thank you and the Deming Institute and Mike Tweite for the excerpts from Mike’s presentation.

  3. Mike Stoecklein says:

    Great post and great presentations by Mike Twiete. I am currently preparing for a marathon in October. I think my aim and my goal are aligned . will see.

  4. […] The Development of Deming’s Management System – Mike Tveite: “I achieved my goal by not my aim. That happens a lot, we honestly translate aims to goals. And then we do stupid things in the name of the goal get it the way of the aim. We forget the aim sometimes and put the goal in its place.” [the video above shows Mike his experience with this problem] […]

  5. “I have attended a number of these meetings over the years since Dr. Deming passed away in 1993. I plan to go every year from now on.” Mike Stoecklein

  6. “This is a system [of management] and within each of these areas there are powerful ideas but a large part of the value of this comes in the interaction between the ideas: the application of ideas from one domain of knowledge into other domains of knowledge and synthesizing this into a coherent system of thought….” Ian Bradbury

  7. W. Edwards Deming: “Management by numerical goal is an attempt to manage without knowledge of what to do, and in fact is usually management by fear.”

  8. …“Quick Review of Some New Principles of Administration.” In that speech Dr. Deming proposed 25 principles for management (as Jean-Marie’s title suggests this is before Deming used the 14 points for management)…

  9. […] 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 […]

  10. […] “His message was, you can’t blame the worker for the lack of quality, the person responsible for the lack of quality in the United States of American by golly are the managers – and he just chewed the managers out something fierce.” […]

  11. […] improvement or try to find a very different way of doing things).  As Mike Tveite says:  “I achieved my goal but not my aim.”  That happens a lot–we honestly translate aims to goals. And then we do stupid […]

  12. […] “I achieved my goal by not my aim. That happens a lot, we honestly translate aims to goals. And then we do stupid things in the name of the goal get it the way of the aim. We forget the aim sometimes and put the goal in its place.” Mike Tveite […]

  13. […] improvement or try to find a very different way of doing things).  As Mike Tveite says:  “I achieved my goal but not my aim.”  That happens a lot–we honestly translate aims to goals. And then we do stupid […]

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