A significant discovery regarding W. Edwards Deming‘s Total Quality Management has been made. Personality Insight, a personality assessment instrument of Personal Intelligence, LLC, is able to correlate an individual’s personality modes with W. Edwards Deming’s TQM principals. This breakthrough makes it possible to link individual creativity with an established method for excellence in production. The promise that this holds is that American individualism may be harnessed to reinvigorate American manufacturing by re-energizing the connection between the worker and production on the one hand and infusing creativity into management and Deming’s continuous improvement on the other. The following discusses the implications of this discovery.

PSYCHOLOGY: A key to accelerating the implementation of Deming’s TQM

An Introduction

Frank J. Lucatelli, Principal; Personal Intelligence, LLC

6 November 2011

Historically, there has been a disproportionate development of Deming’s “system of profound knowledge,” favoring attention to systematic understanding and application of the “knowledge of variation” in a context that engenders an “appreciation for a system;” at the expense of “psychology” based upon a sound “theory of knowledge.” Further advancement of Deming’s system of profound knowledge may be had by giving balanced attention to the latter two foci. The author claims that a similar in-depth effort in psychology and a theory of knowledge that matches the work already on-going in systematic variation analysis can begin to re-energize the fading interest in Deming’s work.

It is timely to take a fresh look at Deming’s work through the eyes of psychology, based upon a full, more robust, implementation of an inherent theory of knowledge. American industry needs to be rejuvenated to recover from the current economic malaise; reintegrating a decimated industrial base.

The author’s opinion is that TQM has stalled in the United States because of issues pertaining to the acceptance of Deming’s system by individual industry leaders. There is a paradox to Deming’s work: in that it is a complex system of ideas, necessarily so, in order to grapple with the actual complexity of organizational activity; this very complexity prevents industry leaders from embracing Deming’s system. However, complexity is unnecessarily seen as complicated or cumbersome.

The plethora of specialized applications of Deming’s ideas such as “continuous improvement,” “Six-Sigma,” “Total Quality Management (TQM),” “Toyota Production System (TPS),” “Operational Excellence,” “Lean Production,” etc. are each attempts to simplify the complexity of Deming’s ideas, hoping to foster broader acceptance in the workplace, but risk oversimplification of TQM.

Current psychological applications for enhancing Deming’s work are typically externally-focused exercises presenting how all people think, for example, the “Six Hat” method by Edward de Bono, among many others. From a psychological perspective, the author has found a set of personality types, within the Personality Insight™ assessment instrument of Personal Intelligence, LLC™, each favoring a specific principle among Deming’s Fourteen Principles; a one-to-one correspondence. This means, rather than simplifying the general content so all people can easily understand a complex system, it is possible by assessing an individual’s personality, to learn which of Deming’s Fourteen Principles is most likely to have deep, profound, meaning for that specific individual. Not all people think alike; even, not all people favor thinking as a primary mode of coping!

Instead of all key leaders in an organization being trained to understand Deming’s system at the same level of depth and with the same approach, the author proposes that individual leaders be coached to use the specific aspect of Deming’s work, that profoundly resonates with that specific person. Namely, facilitate the particular principle(s) that matches one’s personality type(s).

Because Deming’s system IS profound, the Fourteen Principles are deeply inter-connected. The result is, whichever principle that a person uses to acquaint him or her self to Deming’s system, it will ultimately lead the person to an in-depth understanding of the whole system. Further, specialization in aspects of Deming’s system within an organization will foster a higher level of personal creativity in application, and result in a more productive, safer and livelier organization.

The systematic application of profound psychological information, in concert with established knowledge about systems and variation that benefits individual leaders and their organizations, is an opportunity to jump-start the American economy and likely lead to out-performing past accomplishments.