Dr. W. Edwards Deming and Paul Steel

Quality Guru Dr. W. Edwards Deming - first day account of his project at Ford

Dr Edwards Deming

Original Ford Supplier Training in Statistical Process Control (SPC) Program

Dr. Deming made two demands before he would agree to visit Ford Motor Company. He insisted on a meeting with the CEO and he wanted a separate meeting with someone who had enough statistical knowledge to work with him and conduct his training at Ford and its 10,000 supplier locations. Ford CEO (Red Poling) and President (Donald Peterson) agreed to meet him for breakfast. Donald Peterson was the one to step forward and assure Dr. Deming that he would provide and sustain the necessary management support.

Regarding Deming's request to meet a statistically competent internal counterpart, I must admit that by default I was selected for this role of working with Dr. Deming because I was the only one at that time known to have extensive education and practical experience in applying statistical process control (SPC) and other related statistical analyses. I have since read many accounts of what happened that first day. Most are exaggerated and incorrect. Unlike some of the authors who would later claim the credit, I was actually there. During our meeting at Ford World Headquarters, Dr. Deming quizzed me on statistics and I asked him to recommend how best to implement the techniques that worked so well in Japan at Ford's suppliers. The meeting got off to an awkward start because after I asked how we could effectively use SPC with our 10,000 suppliers, Dr. Deming responded by saying: "10,000 suppliers! I have no idea!" I was shocked and cautiously asked again and he responded by shaking his head and staring at the floor while repeating his "I have no idea!" reply. Out of desperation, I suggested an approach as to how I thought we could do it. He shook his head favorably and said he thought that approach would work. I did well on my statistics quiz but not well enough that he did not give me a homework assignment. As the meeting ended and he needed to go to the auditorium to address the Ford quality managers who had been flown in from all over the world to listen to him, he stopped in the meeting room doorway and waited for me. He extended his hand and said to me that he looked forward to working with me. At that moment, I knew I wanted to become a consultant. He later authorized me to give his signature seminar internally at Ford and with our suppliers. I still have and treasure the copy he gave me.

It may surprise some to learn that Ford management did not initially invite Dr. Deming to work with Ford directly but only with our suppliers. It was not until several months later that Ford senior management summoned me to make a spontaneous argument for using SPC internally. I do not know that I would have been successful because one key leader challenged the value of doing this but a couple of senior leaders that I had worked for stepped forward to attest to the success of my applications of SPC.

So, there you have it. Others may tell a different story about what happened that fateful day. They were not there. I was.

Deming - Paul Steel Ford Supplier SPC Training

 

Quality Gurus

In addition to Dr. Deming, I am also proud of my association with Dr. Juran and Jim Harrington (behind Deming) shown in this classic Quality Guru photo given to me by Howland Blackiston who cofounded the Juran Institute in appreciation for my providing him access to China's quality leader.

 

 

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Paul Steel 2008Paul Steel - longest serving Baldrige Examiner. 2010 Senior Examiner trained, EFQM, and a management systems consultant since 1981. Paul has assessed 22 national award winners since 2007 - more than anyone

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I am pleased to announce my reappointment as Judge/Assessor for the Asia Pacific Quality Organization (APQO). In this role I assess the winners of most Asian national quality awards.  Paul Steel