Under Competent Leadership

20 September 2005

From the third quarter’s newsletter of The W. Edwards Deming Institute, I’ve reprinted a letter shown on page two. Succinctly, it provides the thinking in American business then—and NOW. One sentence says more than any dozen of the bestselling business books of the last two years!

W. EDWARDS DEMING, PH.D
CONSULTANT IN STATISTICAL STUDIES

WASHINGTON 20016
4924 BUTTERWORTH PLACE
TEL. (202) EMERSON 3-8552

6 April 1981

Dear Sir,

Your article about Japan in TIME for 30 March 1981 is excellent, but the paragraph concerning my work is ridiculous and can do a lot of harm to American industry at the very time when they need guidance. Dr. Deming did not just give a lecture in 1950. He gave 35 lectures in the summer of 1950 to engineers and to top management. Six months later he was there again, and six months after that yet again. He has made 19 trips to Japan.

One trouble with American industry today is that top management supposes that one lecture or one day will do it. “Come, spend a day with us, and do for us what you did for Japan, that we too may be saved.” It is not so simple. Few people in top management in America understand their responsibilities and know that they must serve a life term on quality and productivity from now on, under competent leadership.

W. Edwards Deming

To the Editor
TIME

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