The W. Edwards Deming Institute Blog

W. Edward Deming Quotes from Out of the Crisis

See our quote overview page for important background information and links to more quotes.

Out of the Crisis

image of the book cover for Out of the Crisis

Defects are not free. Somebody makes them, and gets paid for making them.

W. Edwards Deming, Out of the Crisis, page 11

The transformation can only be accomplished by man, not by hardware (computers, gadgets, automation, new machinery). A company can not buy its way into quality.

W. Edwards Deming, Out of the Crisis, page 18

Best efforts are essential. Unfortunately, best efforts, people charging this way and that way without guidance of principles, can do a lot of damage.

W. Edwards Deming, Out of the Crisis, page 19

Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality. Eliminate the need for inspection on a mass basis by building quality into the product in the first place.

W. Edwards Deming, Out of the Crisis, page 23
Point 3 in the list of Deming’s 14 points, also see the next quote, which is on the same topic.

Inspection does not improve the quality, nor guarantee quality. Inspection is too late. The quality, good or bad, is already in the product. As Harold F. Dodge said, “You can not inspect quality into a product.”

W. Edwards Deming, Out of the Crisis, page 29

The greatest waste in America is failure to use the abilities of people.

W. Edwards Deming, Out of the Crisis, page 53
See: The Greatest Waste

Money and time spent for training will be ineffective unless inhibitors to good work are removed.

W. Edwards Deming, Out of the Crisis, page 53

numerical goals set for other people, without a road map to reach the goal, have effects opposite to the effects sought.

Out of the Crisis, page 69

To manage, one must lead. To lead, one must understand the work that he and his people are responsible for. Who is the customer (the next stage), and how can we serve better the customer? An incoming manager, to lead, and to manage at the source of improvement, must learn. He must learn from his people what they are doing and must learn a lot of new subject matter.

W. Edwards Deming, Out of the Crisis, page 76

management by numerical goal is an attempt to manage without knowledge of what to do, and in fact is usually management by fear.

W. Edwards Deming, Out of the Crisis, page 76

The idea of a merit rating is alluring. the sound of the words captivates the imagination: pay for what you get; get what you pay for; motivate people to do their best, for their own good. The effect is exactly the opposite of what the words promise.

W. Edwards Deming, Out of the Crisis, page 101

But he that would run his company on visible figures alone will in time have neither company nor figures. Actually, the most important figures that one needs for management are unknown or unknowable (Lloyd S. Nelson, p. 20), but successful management must nevertheless take account of them.

W. Edwards Deming, Out of the Crisis, page 121

The supposition is prevalent the world over that there would be no problems in production or service if only our production workers would do their jobs in the way that they were taught. Pleasant dreams. The workers are handicapped by the system, and the system belongs to the management.

W. Edwards Deming, Out of the Crisis, page 134

“We installed quality control.” No. You can install a new desk, or a new carpet, or a new dean, but not quality control. Anyone that proposes to “install quality control” unfortunately has little knowledge about quality control.

W. Edwards Deming, Out of the Crisis, page 138

We cannot rely on mass inspection to improve quality, though there are times when 100 percent inspection is necessary. As Harold S. Dodge said many years ago, ‘You cannot inspect quality into a product.’ The quality is there or it isn’t by the time it’s inspected.

Out of the Crisis, page 139

Profit in business comes from repeat customers, customers that boast about your product and service, and that bring friends with them.

Out of the Crisis, page 141

no one can guess the future loss of business from a dissatisfied customer. The cost to replace a defective item on the production line is fairly easy to estimate, but the cost of a defective item that goes out to a customer defies measure.

Out of the Crisis, page 175

New product and new types of service are generated, not by asking the consumer, but by knowledge, imagination, innovation, risk, trial and error on the part of the producer, backed by enough capital to develop the product or service and to stay in business during the learn months of introduction.

Out of the Crisis, page 182

The aim of leadership should be to improve the performance of man and machine, to improve quality, to increase output, and simultaneously to bring pride of workmanship to people. Put in a negative way, the aim of leadership is not merely to find and record failures of men, but to remove the causes of failure: to help people to do a better job with less effort.

W. Edwards Deming, Out of the Crisis, page 248 (See blog post: Dr. Deming on Leadership)

I should estimate that in my experience most troubles and most possibilities for improvement add up to the proportions something like this:

94% belongs to the system (responsibility of management)
6% special

W. Edwards Deming, Out of the Crisis, page 475
See: 94% Belongs to the System

How can she put forth her best efforts when no matter how carefully she works, the item will still be defective? If no one cares, why should she? In contrast, when defects are rare or nonexistent or well explained, she understands that the management are accepting their proper responsibility, and she feels an obligation to put forth her best efforts: they are now effective.

W. Edwards Deming, Out of the Crisis, page 428.

There is no such thing as arrival exactly on time. In fact, exactly on time can not be defined.

W. Edwards Deming, Out of the Crisis, page 475.
It is a matter of operational definition to define how you measure being on time – that is how to operationalize the concept of on time.
Other wording: “You can not define being exactly on time.”
Also see page 279 of Out of the Crisis


  1. Andrew Harris says:

    I wish I was in a better position to implement Deming’s and Shewhart’s ideas. Thank God this site exists and Deming’s ideas can be so easily accessed. Thank God.

  2. Geoffrey W. says:

    It’s great to receive and understand the wisdom of
    Dr. Deming.
    However, I have yet to find an employer that actually reads or implements Dr. Deming’s work, at all. It’s disappointing to learn that (no matter where I go) I will be managed by either fear or by someone that doesn’t know what their job is.

  3. Hans Mwacha says:

    Deming’s ideas are formidable, when applied they can result into strengthen firms or institutions.

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