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PMP® Exam Quality Primer: The Quality Gurus – W. Edward Deming (#1 in the series PMP® Exam Quality Primer)
By Samuel T. Brown, III, PMP, Global Knowledge Course Director and Instructor

Quality as we know it today is an accumulation of several concepts that together create a comprehensive approach to quality. The views of quality, as described in the PMBOK Guide® and tested on the PMP exam are focused primarily on three major contributors to quality: W. Edward Deming, Joseph M. Juran, and Philip B. Crosby. Though much of the knowledge necessary to pass the PMP exam is readily documented in the PMBOK Guide® and other study guides, it may be helpful to have a primer on the quality gurus and programs on which the quality concepts are based.

W. Edward Deming

Many consider Deming the father of quality. His contributions to quality management have been most influential, so much so that he is considered an internationally acclaimed expert. The offerings for which Deming is most widely known are the Deming Cycle, his Fourteen Points, and the Seven Deadly Diseases.

The Deming Cycle

The Deming Cycle was developed to link the production of a product with consumer needs and focus the resources of all departments (research, design, production, and marketing) in a cooperative effort to meet those needs. The Deming Cycle proceeds as follows:

  1. Plan: Conduct consumer research and use it in planning the product.
  2. Do: Produce the product.
  3. Check: Check the product to make sure it was produced in accordance with the plan.
  4. Act: Market the product.
  5. Analyze: Analyze how the product is received in the marketplace in terms of quality, cost, and other criteria.

Deming’s Fourteen Points

Another Deming contribution, the Fourteen Points, summarized his views on what a company must do to effect a positive transition from business as usual to world-class quality. Deming’s Fourteen Points are as follows:

  1. Create consistency of purpose toward the improvement of products and services in order to become competitive, stay in business, and provide jobs.
  2. Adopt the new philosophy. This is a new economic age; management must recognize this fact and awaken to the challenge, learn their responsibilities, and take on leadership for change.
  3. Stop depending on inspection to achieve quality. Build quality from the start.
  4. Stop rewarding contracts on the basis of low bids.
  5. Improve continuously and forever the system of production and service to improve quality and productivity, and thus constantly reduce costs.
  6. Institute training on the job.
  7. Institute leadership. The purpose of leadership should be to help people and technology work better.
  8. Drive out fear so that everyone may work effectively.
  9. Break down barriers between departments so that people can work as a team.
  10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the workforce. They create adversarial relationships.
  11. Eliminate quotas and management by objectives. Substitute leadership.
  12. Remove barriers that rob employees of their pride of workmanship.
  13. Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement.
  14. Make everyone responsible for the transformation and put everyone to work on it.

Deming’s Seven Deadly Diseases

Deming’s Seven Deadly Diseases summarizes the factors that he believes can inhibit the transformation that the Fourteen Points can bring about. The Seven Deadly Diseases are:

  1. Lack of constancy of purpose to plan products and services that have a market sufficient to keep the company in business and provide jobs
  2. Emphasis on short-term profit; short-term thinking that is driven by a fear of unfriendly takeover attempts and pressure from bankers and shareholders to produce dividends
  3. Personal review systems for managers and management by objectives without providing methods or resources to accomplish objectives; includes performance evaluations, merit rating, and annual appraisals
  4. Job-hopping by managers
  5. Using only visible data and information in decision making with little or no consideration give to what is not known or cannot be known
  6. Excessive medical costs
  7. Excessive costs of liability driven up by lawyers who work on contingency fees

About the Author

Samuel Brown, PMP, is a course developer and instructor for Global Knowledge with 25 years experience teaching. In addition, he has provided project management consulting services for a variety of clients including GE, Glaxo Smith-Klein, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Michelin Tire, and IBM.

This article was originally published in Global Knowledge’s Business Brief e-newsletter. Global Knowledge delivers comprehensive hands-on project management, business process, and professional skills training. Visit our online Knowledge Center at for free white papers, webinars, and more.

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