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Deming 14 Principles of Quality Leadership Management

(Last Updated On: November 25, 2023)

Deming 14 principles of quality management are a great way to understand excellence in project management. Quality management often misconceived solely in the context of the final product, is a multifaceted concept that extends beyond the tangible outcome. Edward Deming’s 14 principles of quality management, elucidated in his seminal work “Out of the Crisis” in 1986, provide a comprehensive framework for understanding and implementing excellence in project management. These principles, rather than fixating solely on the end result, advocate for a holistic approach that integrates efficiency, innovation, and continuous improvement throughout the project lifecycle. This article will discuss Deming 14 principles of quality management.

The Essence of Quality Processes: Beyond the Final Product

In the pursuit of a quality product, it becomes imperative to recognize that the foundation lies in quality processes. Efficiency, innovation, and a commitment to continuous improvement are the cornerstones of Deming’s principles. These principles not only guide the endeavors within individual projects but also resonate in the broader organizational context. They advocate for the cultivation of a quality management culture that permeates not just project teams but entire organizations. A shift in perspective from a product-centric view to a process-centric one is essential to truly grasp the nuances of quality management.

Deming’s Principles in Action: Building Environments Where Quality Thrives

For project managers, the application of Deming’s principles is not merely an abstract concept but a practical approach to constructing project environments conducive to the flourishing of quality. By integrating these principles into project management practices, project settings can be transformed into crucibles where quality is not just a byproduct but an intrinsic part of the process. The impact is not confined to immediate project outcomes; it has the potential to act as a tipping point for ushering in a larger transformation in quality management across the entire spectrum of organizational operations.

Project Managers as Change Agents: A Broader Sphere of Influence

While the role of project managers is inherently tied to the project life cycle, their influence extends far beyond these temporal boundaries. Quality management emerges as a pivotal arena where project managers, with their skill set, can act as instrumental change agents. By instigating a shift in the culture of projects under their purview, project managers lay the groundwork for a ripple effect that extends to the broader department and, ultimately, the entire organization.

Deming 14 Principles of Quality Project Management

Edward Deming’s vision, encapsulated in the 14 principles, aims to bolster industry competitiveness by elevating the standard of quality. The principles outlined in chapter two of “Out of the Crisis” serve as a strategic guide for organizations seeking to enhance their competitive edge. Deming believed that embracing these principles could lead to a transformative impact on the industry, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and innovation that is indispensable in today’s dynamic business landscape.

1. Establish a Consistent Goal of Progress: Embracing Agile Adaptability

Deming’s call for a consistent goal of progress is a strategic directive urging management to shift from reactive measures to proactive planning. Project managers, grappling with the swift evolution of business landscapes, find the conventional long-term planning approach inadequate. The dynamic nature of contemporary business demands a paradigm shift towards iterative, rolling-wave, or Agile methodologies. Comprehensive planning, a fusion of short-term precision, and a long-term outlook become paramount. This approach, rooted in Deming’s principles, facilitates frequent evaluations, re-planning, and robust risk management. It ensures that project plans remain agile, swiftly adapting to abrupt changes in business dynamics and deliverables without jeopardizing project integrity.

2. Adopt a New Way of Thinking: Leadership Integrity and Inspirational Change

Deming’s call to adopt a new way of thinking serves as a poignant reminder for management to align actions with words, fostering authenticity and initiative. Project managers, as change catalysts, bear the responsibility of embodying the principles they espouse. Lasting and transformative change emanates from within, radiating outward to inspire collective action. The journey toward becoming quality management believers and evangelists starts with project managers demonstrating the underlying beliefs through consistent actions. This cultural shift, though gradual, triggers a domino effect, cultivating a workforce that embraces quality management principles not just in rhetoric but in daily practice.

3. Stop Relying on Inspections: Embracing Preventive Project Management

Deming’s admonition against excessive reliance on inspections underscores the importance of preventing quality issues proactively. For project managers, the axiom “prevention is better than cure” translates into the incorporation of continuous improvement strategies in project management and execution procedures. Beyond the conventional quality connotation, inspections can inadvertently cultivate a restrictive management style. Encouraging a team to seek approval for every decision hampers agility and innovation. Project managers must foster a culture where teams possess the skills, information, and autonomy to make informed decisions swiftly. This approach, aligned with Deming’s principles, nurtures a dynamic project environment, steering clear of stagnation and rigidity.

4. Ending Price-Centric Contract Awards: A Shift towards Adaptive Procurement

Deming’s plea to cease awarding contracts based solely on price reflects a strategic move to mitigate variability in the production process caused by numerous component suppliers. Project managers, extending this principle to procurement practices, recognize that decisions based solely on cost are often inadequate. In projects requiring frequent modifications, the adaptability and innovative capacity of vendors become paramount. Opting for low-cost suppliers might compromise the ability to respond effectively to dynamic changes. This principle underscores the importance of choosing vendors not just based on price but on their ability to adapt, innovate, and align with the evolving demands of the project.

5. Constant and Eternal Improvement: Fostering a Culture of Innovation

Deming’s emphasis on the perpetual pursuit of improvement resonates with project managers striving for quality and efficiency. In the dynamic landscape of project management, PMBOK’s principle of continuous improvement is not a binary switch but an ingrained attitude. Cultivating this mindset requires creating an environment where team members possess diverse skills, information, and knowledge. Encouraging experimentation and embracing mistakes as valuable learning experiences form the bedrock of innovation. The lessons-learned process, devoid of blame, becomes integral to the project, fostering an atmosphere where amateurs, driven by passion, can often outshine conventional experts.

6. On-the-Job Training: Nurturing Comprehensive Team Growth

Deming’s advocacy for on-the-job training as a means to enhance efficiency and reduce errors in job outputs finds resonance in the realm of project management. Beyond process improvement, continuous development encompasses the holistic growth of the entire project team—both in hard and soft skills, experiences, and knowledge. Acknowledging the value of professional growth, coaching, and mentoring becomes pivotal. Contrary to the notion that comprehensive training requires substantial financial investments, project managers can leverage cost-effective methods. Group-led activities, doubling as team-building exercises, such as webinars, vendor demos, and focused discussions on best practices, emerge as potent avenues for fostering a culture of continual learning and development.

7. Institute Management: Transforming Managers into Leaders

Deming’s call to institute management goes beyond traditional managerial roles, emphasizing the need for leadership. In the realm of project management, the challenge often lies not in a deficiency of management skills but in a lack of effective leadership. The ability to navigate interpersonal dynamics and exhibit people skills takes precedence over mere project management acumen. The onus falls on project managers to assume a leadership role, especially when sponsors may not readily identify themselves as project leaders. A project leader, guided by Deming’s principles, translates the project’s vision into actions that inspire and drive the team. The focus shifts from merely delivering a product to accomplishing something extraordinary for the client.

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8. Get Rid of Fear: Nurturing a Culture of Innovation

Deming’s directive to eliminate fear in the workplace transcends the conventional understanding of punitive management. In project management, fear poses a significant obstacle to quality, stifling innovation and impeding continuous improvement. A team driven by fear is reluctant to voice new ideas and tends to conceal mistakes, hindering the essential process of learning from failures. Beyond external fear, Deming highlights the internal fears that hinder individuals from expressing ideas and opinions. Project managers must recognize that these anxieties, rooted in a lack of confidence, are equally detrimental to quality. Fostering trust becomes imperative to create an environment where team members feel confident sharing thoughts, questioning established methods, and contributing to innovation.

9. Break Down Departmental Boundaries: Fostering Cross-Functional Collaboration

Deming’s emphasis on breaking down boundaries between departments underscores the importance of cross-functional collaboration. Silos and rigid hierarchies, identified as hazards by Deming, pose risks to both projects and organizations. Project managers need to recognize the detrimental impact of isolated work environments on innovation and continuous progress. Encouraging individuals to venture outside their comfort zones and usual surroundings breaks down artificial boundaries. While this may result in a short-term loss of productivity, the long-term benefits for the project and organization are significant. This approach cultivates a broader pool of “generalists” across various fields, fostering creative solutions and serving as a risk management strategy in case key team members depart the project.

10. Remove Slogans, Exhortations, and Workforce Objectives: Accountability Over Blame

Deming’s call to eliminate slogans, exhortations, and workforce objectives challenges the conventional notion of placing blame on personnel rather than addressing underlying process issues. For project managers, the pivotal realization is assuming accountability for all problems within the project, irrespective of their nature. Deming’s principles emphasize that blaming the team, the client, or the company is counterproductive. Instead, project managers bear the responsibility of addressing fundamental causes, ranging from communication and scope to risk management. Even if not directly executing these tasks, they fall within the professional purview of project managers. Ensuring efficient project procedures aligned with specifications becomes a core obligation based on Deming’s principles.

11. Get Rid of Goal-Oriented Management: Balancing Rigor and Flexibility

Deming’s challenge to goal-oriented management sparks contemplation on the delicate balance between setting objectives and meticulous planning. Project managers grapple with the tension between the necessity of goals and the pitfalls of short-sightedness. Deming cautions against setting goals without addressing underlying problems, which often leads to compromised quality. While milestones are common project goals, they should be both challenging and achievable. The prevalent scheduling error of inflexibility in rolling wave planning demands regular milestone reassessment. Project managers must communicate milestone dates as estimates, acknowledging the iterative nature of projects, and ensuring stakeholders understand that adjustments are not indicative of missed objectives but a refinement based on evolving project understanding.

12. Remove Impediments to Pride in One’s Job: Fostering Recognition and Motivation

Deming’s emphasis on eliminating impediments to pride in one’s job centers on acknowledging the innate human desire for meaningful work and recognition. Employees, driven by a natural aversion to substandard work, become disheartened in environments that prioritize quantity over quality. For project managers, creating an atmosphere where the team and individuals are recognized for their efforts and accomplishments becomes instrumental. Every member of the project team should feel valued for their contributions. Sincere gratitude, a simple yet potent motivator, extends beyond successes to embrace “failures” and blunders as valuable lessons. By fostering an environment of recognition, project managers inspire a sense of pride that propels the team toward collective success.

13. Self-Improvement and Education at the Institute: Cultivating a Learning Culture

Deming’s advocacy for self-improvement and education across all levels of an organization underscores the importance of continuous learning. For project managers, this principle extends beyond personal growth to encompass the entire project team. Qualified project managers not only anticipate and actively engage in ongoing professional development but also champion and facilitate the same for their team members and colleagues. Fostering a culture that values broad awareness of professional standards, rewards certification efforts, and provides opportunities for growth is crucial. Recognizing and supporting the diverse educational needs within the team contributes to a dynamic and innovative project environment. Cheap but Good Hosting Services Rated by Reviewers

14. Everyone is Responsible for the Transition: Fostering a Culture of Continuous Improvement

Deming’s assertion that everyone is responsible for the transition emphasizes the collective effort required to repair processes and drive continuous improvement. For project managers, adherence to the preceding principles culminates in a quality management culture where everyone plays a role in ongoing innovation. Team members, having experienced firsthand the benefits of quality management, become conduits for disseminating ideas to other project teams. The participatory nature of continuous improvement becomes ingrained, transcending individual roles and fostering a collaborative environment where each member contributes to the collective success of the organization.

Final thought: Integrating Deming’s Wisdom into Project Management Practices

In weaving Deming’s 14 principles into the fabric of project management, a holistic transformation takes root. The emphasis on proactive planning, leadership integrity, and preventive strategies reshapes project environments. Agile methodologies enable adaptability, authenticity becomes the cornerstone of leadership, and continuous improvement replaces over-reliance on inspections. As project managers align their practices with Deming’s principles, they not only fortify individual projects but also contribute to a broader organizational shift towards a culture of excellence and adaptability.

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