From Deming to ISO 9000:2000

Lip service isn't enough; management must understand and carry out its obligations to achieve sustainability and growth

by R. Dan Reid

"In the last 40 years, many things have changed, but the basic body of knowledge that impacts the quality of a product or process (hardware or software, manufacturing or service...) has not changed all that much. ... Everything I needed to know about quality was published by 1931."1

This comment was made during the Society for Automotive Engineers (SAE) World Congress this March in Detroit. The speaker went on to list a number of quality programs, such as companywide quality control, kaizen and total quality control, that have come and gone since that time.

When you look at these programs, you find many indeed share common elements that have been identified, quantified and explained from many different angles. As the speaker said, the basic concepts have been around for some time. They are still not widely deployed, however. American industry apparently loves to innovate, but struggles to implement the fundamentals of quality management.

For quality programs to be successful, management must take an active role in their implementation. Plenty of guidelines are available in the work of quality leaders such as W. Edwards Deming and in more recently developed standards and programs such as ISO 9000:2000. An organization can now combine elements from several sources to tailor a quality management system that meets its specific needs. The key to success in any program, however, is for management to follow through.

And Deming said

In his book Out of the Crisis, Deming reflected on the information he shared with the Japanese in 1950 and showed how quality improvement results in a chain reaction:

Improve quality >> costs decrease (less rework, fewer delays) >> productivity improves >> capture the market with better quality and lower price >> stay in business >> provide jobs and more jobs.2

Figure 1 summarizes the next point Deming made in 1950, that production should be viewed as a system. This simple concept helped the Japanese capture new markets in just over 20 years. Deming said it would take American industry decades to catch up, if it ever did, and he emphasized that quality improvement should ultimately impact a society's quality of life, including jobs.

It's all about customer satisfaction

As the figure shows, Deming emphasized the importance of consumer research, which should lead to the design or redesign of the product or service to improve customer satisfaction.

Deming said reduction of variation could be provided through the single sourcing of suppliers. He advocated long-term relationships based on trust and promoted the continual improvement of testing capability for products, services, processes, machines, methods, inspection and distribution. He stressed the consumer is the most important consideration throughout the product realization process.3

ISO 9001:2000, clause 5.2, now requires top management to ensure customer requirements are determined and fulfilled.4 The new standard also commits top management to communicating to the organization the importance of meeting customer requirements.5

In lean manufacturing, we see an emphasis on value, which is defined by the customer and created by the producer.6 In the Malcolm Baldrige National Award criteria, we find a significant emphasis on customer/market focus. Whatever the model, there is a need to understand current and future customer needs and continually work to satisfy them.

Plans and methods

Deming then said an organization needs to integrate an overall plan. He asked, "Where do you want to be in five years?" and "How may you reach this goal ... by what method?"

According to Deming, goals or objectives are hopes, and hopes without a method to achieve them remain hopes. He recommended his 14 Points for Management and his Deadly Diseases and Obstacles as methods for management to use to achieve goals and objectives.7

QS-9000, ISO TS 16949 and the new ASQ/Automotive Industry Action Group and ISO Industry Technical Agreement health care document cite the need for strategic business planning by an organization. This planning is needed for areas such as costs, growth projections, facilities, employee development, research and development, customer satisfaction, health, safety and environmental issues.

Deming added quality must be built in at the design stage.8 ISO 9001:2000 now places more emphasis on up-front quality planning because an organization can have the most influence on product quality during the planning stage.

QS-9000 requires use of the industry Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP) and Control Plan manual, which provides the template and checklists for product realization.

It is important that certain activities be conducted earlier in the product realization cycle than others and that all the right things be done. The APQP is a good model for hardware and has applications for other sectors.

During design and development, a record should define the product, process or service characteristics and their requirements. These should be based on consumer research and the organization's product knowledge, and they should take into account the expected life of the product, durability, reliability and maintainability.

Efforts to error proof the product and processes should be made from the beginning of planning and continue through corrective and preventive action. This is to prevent problems--which was Deming's point when he said to cease dependence on inspection.

Particularly where error proofing is not incorporated into product or service design, the quality characteristics should be evaluated for risk of failure (for example, failure mode effects analysis exercises). Then the quality or control plan should address how conformity will be achieved and measured later in the realization phase.

Where the product design does not prevent nonconformances at the characteristic level, work instructions should tell operators how to mitigate the effects of potential problems--what to do when things go wrong and how to operate processes correctly.

Process capability or performance needs to be matched with the product and process requirements and consumer expectations. The process capability should be determined and monitored statistically over time. Management should be trained to understand which measures are appropriate and how to interpret what the data are telling them about process variation.

The most important numbers

Deming said the central challenge of management is to better understand the meaning of variation and the processes being managed.9 His contention was that where management is incompetent, it manages the outcome by numbers. For example, to compensate for a lack of knowledge of processes, management may mandate some yearly percentage of improvement in a specified characteristic. Quality, however, is about effective process management.

To Deming, the most important numbers were what he called "unknown" and "unknowable."10 An example of this would be the unknown costs incurred when a customer is lost due to a poor quality experience. An understanding of this idea should motivate management to continually improve the product and process independent of quality mandates.

Process management involves the use of metrics. Implementing effective metrics starts with identification of the key product or service characteristics to measure. It is not practical to measure all characteristics.

One psychology of measurement maintains that what gets measured improves. In the automotive industry, part approval is obtained when the selected characteristics meet requirements. How to determine whether they meet the requirements is the challenge of the measurement system. It includes testing.

The journey should not stop with initial approval, however. Management should work to continually improve the processes to reduce variation, increase customer satisfaction and lower costs.

ISO 9001:2000 now incorporates the measuring and monitoring of the product, process and quality system. This is a significant improvement over the previous version of the standard. These requirements can drive the use of appropriate quality measures throughout the organization.

Constancy of purpose

In his 14 Points, Deming says management must create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service. He shows how job mobility inhibits constancy. The results are failure to establish the long-term relationships necessary to encourage suppliers to invest in innovation and the creation of fear and mistrust in the work force, which leads to a lack of pride in workmanship and, in turn, to poor quality and more turnover.11

In the U.S. automotive industry, work on what became QS-9000 started about 15 years ago. Leadership of this effort was by eight different men occupying the positions of vice president for purchasing or procurement and supply at three different automakers: Chrysler, Ford and GM.

Never before in the industry had there been a quality manual with three company logos on the front. Never before had the industry utilized a third-party independent auditing function to qualify suppliers.

While the development of QS-9000 started with modest efforts, a documented long-term vision of success was crafted with input from some forward thinking suppliers. There were regular reviews with the vice presidents to report progress and update the plan.

Despite leadership mobility, a constancy of purpose for this effort remained. Without it, QS-9000 would never have happened, and automotive suppliers would still be faced with numerous quality requirements, inconsistent use of terminology and multiple customer quality system audits on an annual basis.

Other sector documents such as TL 9000, the telecommunications quality management standard, have also been developed using the QS-9000 model as input.

Institute leadership

Deming called for true leadership to substitute for a number of management practices. One of his central tenets was that leadership should help employees do a better job. To Deming the majority of problems in an organization were under the direct control of management, not the workers.

This concept has shown up in lean manufacturing as "support for the employee." It has shown up as "simplifying" and "standardizing" in the 5 S's (a Japanese program that also includes sorting, sweeping and sustaining). It involves structuring the job so the employee can spend a higher percentage of time on value added work.

The vast majority of the time a raw material spends being transformed into finished goods involves nonvalue added activities such as waiting, moving and storage.

In Deming's 14 Points, leadership was also to be the substitute for quotas and management by numbers (numerical goals). Management was to work on the system to make it better for the employees. Although this would take time away from other urgencies, it was to be a priority.

A significant section of a recent book about Jack Welch, CEO of GE, was devoted to leadership. In the chapter "Stop Managing and Start Leading," Welch refutes the conventional wisdom about management's role (monitoring, supervising and controlling) and argues that "managers muddle" while "leaders inspire."12

One primary way they can inspire the work force is to make continual improvements in the systems to make the employees' jobs easier and more productive.

Training and competence

Deming advocated on-the-job training.13 One of his 14 Points was to institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement.

The new ISO 9000 requires competence, and training is listed as one of several ways to achieve it. In the automotive standard ISO TS 16949, training on the job is a specific requirement.

The effectiveness of training should be periodically reviewed. High work force turnover demands repetition of basic training initiatives. For example, a company may provide initial training sessions in statistical process control, variation and tools to measure quality (such as control charts and run charts). However, as the trained employees move on to other jobs, companies need to teach such concepts to their successors.

Employees in the same assignments could also benefit from further training in more advanced concepts, particularly when data indicate they fall outside of the common cause variation as taught by Deming.

Training in the fundamentals of quality management should be institutionalized. Recognizing this, TL 9000, the telecommunication standard, requires all employees, including top managers who have a direct impact on product quality, be trained in fundamental concepts of continual improvement, problem solving and customer satisfaction.14

Many organizations are using new employee orientation manuals to provide basic training. Information from such manuals can now be loaded onto company Web sites to provide easy access and better change management. For this reason, many organizations now use electronic media for their quality manuals and procedures.

Continual improvement

Deming stressed the need for continual improvement of the system of production and service in his 14 Points. He linked it to cost reductions, which lead to productivity improvements and the chain reaction caused by quality.

Deming promotes Walter Shewhart's plan-do-check-act cycle, often known as the "Deming cycle," for continual improvement of each element of the product realization process15 shown in Figure 1 (p. 67). QS-9000 and ISO TS 16949 detail the need for continual improvement that must extend to product characteristics.

Organizations are either growing or dying daily. To grow, organizations must be managed well and committed to improving faster than the competition.

Using the management system

For sustainability and growth, an organization should design and implement a management system based on the fundamentals of quality. To start, ISO 9001:2000 can provide a template that should be enhanced with other elements to drive efficiency and effectiveness.

With appropriate metrics, status can be known and improvements achieved, continually increasing customer satisfaction. As we have seen, the concepts and methods have been documented for decades. It is past the time for implementation. But as Deming stated, support of top management is not enough. Management must know what it must do, and these obligations cannot be delegated.16


1. Stanley Marash, Integrating Six Sigma Performance Excellence and ISO 9000:2000, SAE paper no. 2001-01-1113.

2. W. Edwards Deming, Out of the Crisis (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1986), p. 3.

3. Ibid., pp. 5 and 174.

4. ANSI/ISO/ASQ 9001-2000 Quality Management Standards--Requirements (Milwaukee: ASQ Quality Press, 2000), clause 5.2.

5. Ibid., clause 5.1a.

6. James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones, Lean Thinking--Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996), p. 16.

7. Deming, Out of the Crisis (see reference 2), p. 19.

8. Ibid., p. 49.

9. Ibid., p. 20.

10. Ibid.

11. Ibid., pp. 25-26.

12. Robert Slater, Jack Welch and the GE Way--Management Insights and Leadership Secrets of the Legendary CEO (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1999), pp. 27-29.

13. Deming, Out of the Crisis (see reference 2), pp. 52-53.

14. TL 9000 Quality Management Systems Requirements Handbook, Release 3.0, clause 6.2.2.c.2 (Milwaukee: ASQ Quality Press, 2001).

15. Deming, Out of the Crisis (see reference 2), p. 88.

16. Ibid, p. 21.

R. DAN REID is manager of advanced technology purchasing at GM Powertrain and co-author of the three editions of QS-9000, ISO Technical Specification 16949; the Chrysler, Ford, GM Advanced Product Quality Planning With Control Plan; the Chrysler, Ford, GM Production Part Approval Process Third Edition; and the Chrysler, Ford, GM Failure Modes and Effects Analysis manuals. He was also delegation leader of the International Automotive Task Force and has served on numerous International Organization for Standardization (known as ISO) committees, working groups and task groups, including the group developing the guidance document for health care organizations that is based on ISO 9004:2000.

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