Deming’s Principles of Professional Practiceby Bill Bellows
At Aileron, we fervently believe privately held business fuels free enterprise and raises the quality of life for us all. As businesses move beyond the start-up phase, a systematic approach to your business is critical to sustainable and strategic growth. We call this approach Professional Management, and have developed a system to implement it influenced by Dr. W. Edwards Deming and other great thought leaders. Dr. Deming’s timeless teachings have been, and will continue to be, a driving influence because we see his philosophies work.
The distinction between the meanings of the words ethical and moral is not always clear, and often they are used interchangeably as synonyms. Ethics has been used to refer to a system of values or moral principles for a group or profession. “Medical ethics,” for example, refers to the rules or standards governing the conduct of individuals as members of the medical profession. The “Puritan ethic” values self-denial and self-discipline as virtuous. When an individual does not act in ways consistent with the code of values of the group, the actions are said to be unethical.
Dr. Deming gave to each client at the start of their relationship a document that elaborated his code of ethics, the principles of professional conduct that guided his practice. The document is a statement of the mutual obligations of consultant and client. I would add that this is a map that applies to both managers as professionals and the specialists they supervise by providing principles of practice to effectively apply knowledge. In his statement of principles, Deming wrote, “The purpose of this paper will be served if these suggestions provide some guidance in areas in which they are less directly applicable, or even if they only stimulate interchange of ideas that will lead to further work on professional standards.” He also said, “Professional practice stems from an expanding body of theory and from principles of application. A professional aims at recognition and respect for his practice, not for himself alone, but for his colleagues as well.” Deming continued that a professional person takes direction in technical matters, from standards set by professional colleagues and not from an administrative superior. A professional person will not follow methods that are indefensible, merely to please someone. Deming also stated in his code of ethics, “Allocation of responsibilities does not mean impervious compartments in which you do this and I’ll do that. It means that there is a logical basis for allocation of responsibilities, and that it is necessary for everyone involved in a study to know in advance what he will be accountable for.”