W. Edwards Deming Quotes from Papers and Videos

See our quotes overview page for important background information.

These are quotes by W. Edwards Deming from papers, videos (other than the Deming Library) and book introductions.

Papers and other videos

Deming’s First Theorem: “Nobody gives a hoot about profits.”
Deming’s Second Theorem: “We are being ruined by best efforts.”

W. Edwards Deming, 1990 speech in Europe: Does anybody give a hoot about profit? (link is broken: http://www.deming.ch/downloads/deming_speech_en.pdf). See: Nobody Gives a Hoot About Profit.

American management thinks that they can just copy from Japan—but they don’t know what to copy!

W. Edwards Deming, If Japan Can…Why Can’t We?, NBC white paper broadcast, 1980.

Management by results — like driving a car by looking in rear view mirror.

W. Edwards Deming in The Deming of America

Experience teaches nothing. In fact there is no experience to record without theory… Without theory there is no learning… And that is their downfall. People copy examples and then they wonder what is the trouble. They look at examples and without theory they learn nothing.

W. Edwards Deming in The Deming of America
See: Experience Teaches Nothing Without Theory

the system that people work in and the interaction with people may account for 90 or 95 percent of performance.

W. Edwards Deming, introduction to the Team Handbook (His introduction is not included in the 3rd edition)
See: Dr. Deming Called for the Elimination of The Annual Performance Appraisal

When one understands who depends on me, then I may take joy in my work.

W. Edwards Deming, Interview of and by Dr. Ackoff and Dr. Deming
Perhaps better stated as “When I understand who depends on me, then I may take joy in my work.” (it is a transcript of an interview, it seems the wording is a bit off, as often happens when you speak).

Quality is made in the board room. A worker can deliver lower quality, but she cannot deliver quality better than the system allow.

Quoted in Dr. Deming: The American Who Taught the Japanese About Quality