Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dr. Deming's Management's Five Deadly Diseases

Here is an Encyclopaedia Britannica Film from 1984 featuring Dr. Deming himself: Management's Five Deadly Diseases. Awesome.

1) Lack of constancy of purpose
No planning for the future
Lack of long-term definition and goals

"People haven't decided what it is that they're in business for. They really don't know. Do they define it in terms of a service? To produce product and service that has a market of the future? Or is just to have jobs - get paid? Have jobs, live a little while, then get into something else? Lack of consciousness of purpose means: short term thinking."

2) Emphasis on short term profits
Worship the quarterly dividend
Sacrificing long-term growth of the company

"Dividends. No matter what, creative accounting, shipping stuff out, no matter what. Make it look good. Devastating to long term planning with a plan to stay in business, through improvement of quality, of product and service. They cannot do it together."

3) Annual rating of performance
Arbitrary and unjust system
Demoralizing to employees
Nourishes short-term performance
Annihilates team work, encourages fear

"Pay for merit! Pay for what you get! Reward for performance. Can't be done! Unfortunately it can't be done short-range. In ten years? Perhaps. In twenty years? Yes."

"The effect is devastating, people must have something to show, something to count. In other words the merit system nourishes short term performance. It annihilates short term planning. It annihilates teamwork. People can't work together."

4) Mobility of management
No roots in the company
No knowledge of the company
No understanding of its problems

"Annual rating encourages mobility of management. Somebody does not get the top rating which means a raise he looks around for another job. People move around. Not having roots in the company. Not understanding the company, just trying to bring in some abilities, learn some more, move along. Management requires knowledge in the company, roots in the company, knowledge of the problems. A production of sales, and service. Takes a long time."

5) Use of visible figures only
No use of figures that are unknown and unknowable
Encouraged by business schools

"What are the figures of the multiplying effect of a happy customer? The multiplying effects of an unhappy customer? I don't see the figures. They're very important. Those who run the company without them have no company. They're not teaching transformation, they're teaching use of visible figures, creative accounting. How to maximize the price of the company's stock. Keeping up that quarterly dividend."


"We're [americans] number one, for under development. Are people not used, mismanaged, misused and abused and underused by a management that worships sacred cows. Style of management that was never right, that made good fortune for this country between 1950 and 1968 because the rest of the world was devastated. You couldn't go wrong no matter what you did. Those days are over! About time for american management to wake up!"


  1. I have posted information related to Deming's ideas on management, for those who want to learn more: http://curiouscat.com/guides/deming.cfm and related blog posts http://management.curiouscatblog.net/category/deming/

  2. Thanks for posting this video with notes and quotes. very helpful. Powerful stuff, and sad that 28 years on we are still making the same mistakes, magnified to ridiculous proportions.

  3. It is terrible to see that it was recorded in 1984 (I was 15y) and still not applied by most of the companies today ...