Friday, August 03, 2007

Deming does Detroit

I think car manufacturing in North America will rebound. Someday.

However, I've spent the last decade working inside car plants of GM, Ford, Chrysler, Honda, Toyota, and a number of others. I know what I'm talking about when I tell you what it's like to sell to each of them and then subsequently work in their plants installing equipment and training workers and managers to operate the hardware.

The headline from the Washington Post yesterday is well deserved.

"Foreign automakers surpass Detroit for the first time."

(story written by Scholln Freeman)

"Led by Toyota, foreign automakers captured more than 50 percent of the US vehicle market in July - yet another bitter milestone for Detroit's beleaguered auto giants."

One of my heroes is W. Edwards Deming. He was an engineer, a statistician and mathematician who turned his knowledge toward business management. The world has forever been made better.

We used Deming's knowledge during WWII but got fat after the war and abandoned the rigor of process and quality control for the gluttony of newly available worldwide profits.

Where did Dr. Deming find himself? In Japan. Helping the postwar reconstruction initially, then advising the core group of Japanese scientists and leaders who were working to rebuild their own society.

He talked to them about quality control and they listened.

For start ups and emerging enterprises, your job is to continuously improve the quality and value of your offering. It's that simple and it's that hard. Everything you do in the early days is an experiment, not a conclusion. You need to study and learn from failures, then act to fix your enterprise accordingly.

Your solutions must come from your own life not the latest management fad on the internet.

When you hear big shots pontificating about, well, anything, take a pause and consider one of my favorite Deming quotes.

"We are being ruined by the best efforts of people who are doing the wrong thing."

Today's auto headlines bear this out.

wiki Dr. W. Edwards Deming

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