This is one of a series of Knowledge Compass articles that present insightful and pointed quotations of important authors, thinkers, philosophers and others that have influenced culture, business and world events over the years in both modern and ancient times. A Quotation is the repetition of someone else’s statement or thoughts that over time have shown to be meaningful and insightful. This article includes W. Edwards Deming quotes that focus on quality, knowledge, productivity, change and leadership.that can be used as reference, show an analogy, or simply to make a point.

W. Edwards Deming Profile:

American statistician, professor, author, consultant and lecturer. Deming is viewed as having had more influence on Japanese business and manufacturing than any other person not of Japanese heritage. Although Deming was considered a business genius in Japan, he was only becoming recognized in the U.S. for his creative thinking, approaches and methods for workplace quality and productivity at the time of his death in the late 1990s (1900 – 1993).

W. Edwards Deming Quotations:

“Information is not knowledge. Let’s not confuse the two.”
“Lack of knowledge – that is the problem.”
“You should not ask questions without knowledge.”
“Does experience help? NO! Not if we are doing the wrong things.”
“The customer is the most important part of the production line.”
“You can not inspect quality into the product; it is already there.”
“Without theory, there are no questions.”
“There must be consistency in direction.”
“If you do not know how to ask the right question, you discover nothing.”
“We should work on our process, not the outcome of our processes.”
“It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.”
“It is not enough to do your best; you must know what to do, and then do your best.”
“The prevailing style of management must undergo transformation. A system can not understand itself. The transformation requires a view from outside.”
“Learning is not compulsory – neither is survival.”
“The average American worker has fifty interruptions a day, of which seventy percent have nothing to do with work.”
“Rational behavior requires theory. Reactive behavior requires only reflex action.”
“Break down barriers between departments. People in research, design, sales, and production must work as a team, to foresee problems of production and in use that may be encountered with the product or service.”
“A system is a network of interdependent components that work together to try to accomplish the aim of the system. A system must have an aim. Without the aim, there is no system.”


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