The New Economics for Industry, Government, Education

by W. Edwards Deming

Deming is a legendary name in quality management, especially in Japan through his consulting work with Japanese industry from 1950 onward. He died in 1993 at age 93 before the second edition of this book went to press.

“This book is for people who are living under the tyranny of the prevailing style of management,” writes Deming in the preface. He has strong convictions, many of which are counter to conventional management thinking.

Deming does not believe in ratings and grades. He says performance is mostly attributable to the system in which a person works. “The forces of destruction that come from the present style of reward… squeeze out from an individual, over his lifetime, his innate intrinsic motivation… They build into him fear, self-defense, extrinsic motivation. We have been destroying our people from toddlers on through university and on the job. We must preserve the power of intrinsic motivation, dignity, cooperation, curiosity, joy in learning, that people are born with.”

Nor does Deming think highly of goals. “Only the method is important, not the goal.”

“It is wrong to suppose that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it—a costly myth.”

“The customer is not in the pyramid. A pyramid, as an organization chart, thus destroys the system, if ever one was intended.” Instead Deming uses flow diagrams.

“With shared responsibility, no one is responsible. Joint responsibility is totally different from divided responsibility… Learning under a teacher is a joint effort between teacher and pupil.”

Deming makes the distinction between common causes of variation, and special causes. He quotes Brian Joiner who said, “One necessary qualification of anyone in management is to stop asking people to explain ups and downs… that come from random variation.”

Deming, W. Edwards. The New Economics: For Industry, Government, Education. 2nd ed. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2000. Buy from