The W. Edwards Deming Institute® Podcast

Commencing in 2014, The Deming Institute has recorded podcasts on a monthly basis, featuring 20 to 30-minute interviews by Tripp Babbitt with members of the Deming Community who are advancing the use and explanations of Dr. Deming's ideas.

In our July podcast, his first session with Tripp, Bill Cooper shares stories on his 11-year relationship with Dr. Deming, starting with being one of 22 attendees in a 1982 Four Day seminar with Dr. Deming. At the time, Bill was serving as the Senior Executive at the North Island Naval Air Station, with Phil Monroe serving as the senior naval officer.   A few years later, Phil, as Commanding Officer of North Island, approved funding for Bill to attend an intensive, year-long, “quality management for executives" seminar, led by Myron Tribus and held at MIT.  Guest lectures were provided by Kosaku Yoshida, a doctoral student of Dr. Deming, and Yoshikazu Tsuda, former counsellor at the Union of Japanese Scientists & Engineers (JUSE).

As a student of management and leadership theories, ranging from Ken Blanchard to Peter Drucker, Bill met Dr. Deming at a time when he (Bill) was providing in-house leadership classes at North Island, as well as for the National Graduate School, a local private university. 

Inspired by Dr. Deming, all the while trying to get his mind around his theory of management, Bill partnered with Laurie Broedling to launch the first “Deming User Group” in the US, based in San Diego.  

Bill’s motor home served as a convenient dinner venue when Dr. Deming was in southern California and Bill would drive to the latest site of Dr. Deming’s ever popular Four Day seminar.   He has warm memories of Dr. Deming’s fondness for clam chowder, martini’s, and ice cream.

Interview highlights include: 

  • Leading a staff of 4400+ employees, who worked “with” Bill, not “for” him
  • The difference between parenting with 1 kid and 2 or more kids
  • Can you teach an old dog new tricks?
  • His role with the launch of the TQM movement, including Dr. Deming’s views on TQM
  • Why Bill was intrigued by Dr. Deming’s focus on continuous improvement
  • Dr. Deming’s response to an invitation from Lee Iacocca to consult for Chrysler
  • Hosting “Round Table” interviews with Dr. Deming and his role as “the perfect foil,” as well as “straight man,” for Dr. Deming
  • Dr. Deming’s Socratic style in his 1-on-1 meetings with Bill, including his introduction to the Law of Extreme Values
  • Myron Tribus’ 85/15 rule and the difference between “working in” and “working on” a system
  • Improving organizations by improving systems
  • Struggling with the question of “Who owns the system?”
  • The vital need to share a vision
  • Fear vs. anxiety
  • Answers to his favorite question, “What is the improvement strategy that your management team is articulating?”
  • Bill’s thoughts on the difference between management and leadership
  • Retiring from North Island in 1988 to form a “Deming” consultancy, with Phil Monroe as his partner
Direct download: DemingEpisode42.m4a
Category:Interviews -- posted at: 11:22pm PST

Commencing in 2014, The Deming Institute has recorded podcasts on a monthly basis, featuring 20 to 30-minute interviews by Tripp Babbitt with members of the Deming Community who are advancing the use and explanations of Dr. Deming's ideas.

In our June podcast, his first session with Tripp, Phil Monroe shares stories on his introduction to Dr. Deming, leading to his personal transformation as a naval officer and later a post-Navy career as a quality management consultant, city council member, and, currently, board member of a hospital in Coronado, California.

Beginning with meeting Dr. Deming in 1983, while serving as the Commanding Officer of the Naval Air Rework Facility at North Island Naval Air Station, Coronado, Phil reminisces about his first exposure to Deming management.  The meeting was arranged by Bill Cooper, Tripp’s next podcast guest (our July 2017 edition), and the senior civilian at this 6,000+ person Navy operation. 

Highlights include: 

  • What caused Dr. Deming to "look down his nose" at Phil, in front of 350 supervisors
  • Phil’s transformation moment, captured on film, including which of the 14 Points Phil was in violation of, according to Dr. Deming
  • Being challenged by Dr. Deming on his MBO style of management
  • Applying Deming management to an incident involving a Metropolitan Transit Service (MTS) bus carrying school children.  Phil was serving as an MTS Board member and thought the wrong people received disciplinary punishment; i.e. time off without pay.
  • What is top management’s responsibility?
  • The influence of Phil’s academic background at Cornell University
  • Shifting his thinking on problems from “Who did it?” to “What in the process caused this to happen?”
  • World-wide Quality Management consulting with Bill Cooper
  • Numerical illiteracy
  • Impressions of the status of the practice of SPC today
  • What is a statistician’s job?
  • The theory of variation of as the cornerstone of Dr. Deming’s System of Profound Knowledge
  • The "Phil Monroe" change
Direct download: DemingEpisode41.m4a
Category:Interviews -- posted at: 4:16pm PST

Our first "Deming Speaks" podcast features the audio track of a 1990 lecture by Dr. Deming, highlighted in a blog post by John Hunter, copied here, beginning with a quote from Dr. Deming:

"We are being ruined by best efforts without knowledge. Sure we want best efforts but guided with knowledge.Efforts guided by instinct do more harm than good. Our problem is best efforts."

At about the 50 minute point in the presentation Dr. Deming includes an informative discussion on the system being responsible for most of the results (even though we often consider variation in results being due to individual’s efforts).

Most of what anybody is able to turn out is governed by the system that he works in.

He uses the example of a new University president and all the constraints on their ability to act.

The performance of any component is to be evaluated in terms of its contribution to the aim of the system, not for its individual performance or profit, nor for any other competitive measure. 

W. Edwards Deming gives the example of using a loss leader to optimize the overall performance. The business losses money on the component with the intention of optimizing the performance of the entire enterprise.

Management of a system requires knowledge of the interrelationships between all of the components within the system and of everybody that works in it.

As Ackoff said, manage the interactions, manage the messes.

There is innate need for self-esteem and respect. Circumstances provide some people with dignity and self-esteem. Circumstances deny other people these advantages. Management that denies their people, to their employees, dignity and self esteem will smother intrinsic motivation. We have done a good job of it; we have smothered our people. We destroyed our people. We’ve got to bring back the individual.

Deming responded to a question from the audience

Question from audience: What do you propose to replace the merit system with?

W. Edwards Deming: Replace it? You mean you want something to destroy people better than that does?
Follow up question: Is there any way to change the merit system to meet [???]?

W. Edwards Deming: Change it? Abolish it for hell’s sake. Change hell.
You don’t want change. Abolish it… I don’t want the 10 reasons why you can’t do it.
I want the one way you are going to do it. Anytime anyone suggests anything to somebody he’s got 10 reasons why it can’t be done. I don’t want those, I want the one way he is going to do it.

Direct download: Podcast-Deming_at_WCSU_-_1990_-_evening_lecture.m4a
Category:Deming Speaks -- posted at: 7:46am PST

Commencing in 2014, The Deming Institute has recorded podcasts on a monthly basis, featuring 20 to 30-minute interviews by Tripp Babbitt with members of the Deming Community who are advancing the use and explanations of Dr. Deming's ideas. 

In our May podcast, his sixth session with Tripp (1st2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th), David Langford, author, consultant, President, Ingenium Schools, and, 2017 ASQ Deming Medal Recipient, offers insights on his efforts to lead a Deming transformation within Ingenium Schools.

In his latest podcast, David reflects on 31 years of learning and applying the Deming philosophy to enrich society, with a focus on advancing education systems.   Beginning with his first conversation with Dr. Deming in 1986, when he personally answered David’s phone call from Sitka, Alaska, he has been on a personal learning journey, including mentored from Dr. Deming.   With encouragement from Dr. Deming, David reached out to Myron Tribus, who traveled to Sitka to learn more about David’s efforts to bring Dr. Deming’s theory of management to his high school education system.   Soon thereafter, David and Myron were speaking together at conferences about their efforts to improve education systems, using a Deming lens.

Fast forward to 2016, when David was selected to serve as president of Ingenium Schools and shift from “living vicariously as a consultant” (with Langford Learning) to “get back to the laboratory” of an education system in a full-time capacity.  In this month’s podcast, David goes down memory lane with Tripp to explore topics such as: 

  • His first phone call with Dr. Deming
  • Collaborating with his mentor, Myron Tribus
  • A 25+ year career as a consultant with Langford Learning
  • An offer from founder and previous president, Glenn Noreen, to join Ingenium Schools
  • Daily Innovation at Ingenium Schools, with 160+ employees
  • Have the fundamentals in education changed?
  • Finding meaning in the Pythagorean Theorem
  • Profound Learning Experiences
  • Looking for the smallest things which can have the biggest impact
  • Making decisions in a school system, both with and without the System of Profound Knowledge
  • Running meetings with "our" agenda vs. "the boss's" agenda
  • What teachers can do in a class room, in the absence of pre-determined answers to their questions
  • When teachers shift roles from managing behaviors to mentoring
  • Shifting from 1-way to 2-way conversations
  • “Ingenium Huddles”
  • Receiving the 2017 Deming Medal from the American Society for Quality
Direct download: DemingEpisode40.m4a
Category:Interviews -- posted at: 6:43am PST

Commencing in 2014, The Deming Institute has recorded podcasts on a monthly basis, featuring 20 to 30-minute interviews by Tripp Babbitt with members of the Deming Community who are advancing the use and explanations of Dr. Deming's ideas.

In our April podcast, Ed Baker, author, consultant, and former corporate director, Quality Strategy and Operations Support for the Ford Motor Company, offers insights on his latest book, The Symphony of Profound Knowledge (W. Edwards Deming’s Score for Leading, Performing, and Living in Concert).

Nearing 20 years with Ford, including the last 10+ years guiding the tactical and strategic influence of Dr. Deming’s theory of management across Ford, Ed was asked by Dr. Deming to write a book to offer his own understanding of his System of Profound Knowledge.   For those who have heard Dr. Deming say "You can learn a lot about ice and know nothing about water," he credited Ed with this point of enlightenment. 

Ed met recently with Tripp Babbitt to share highlights from his book (in one of Tripp’s longest interviews to date), as well as inspirations from Dr. Deming, covering topics including: 

  • Ed’s first contact with Dr. Deming
  • Dr. Deming’s first visits to Ford
  • Ed’s role in choreographing Dr. Deming’s visits across Ford
  • Dr. Deming’s early impact on Ford
  • The pace of change within Ford under Dr. Deming’s influence
  • Deming management, TQM, Six Sigma, and Lean
  • Tom Johnson’s influence on his thinking
  • Mechanistic and random sampling
  • Is the map the territory?
  • Joy in work
  • Strong support for The Symphony of Profound Knowledge from Clay Mathile and the entire staff of Aileron

In addition to this podcast, link here to watch a recent interview with Ed (and here for a full-length interview), also with a focus on his book, The Symphony of Profound Knowledge.   Link here to listen to a radio interview.

Direct download: DemingEpisode39.m4a
Category:Interviews -- posted at: 9:04am PST

Commencing in 2014, The Deming Institute has recorded podcasts on a monthly basis, featuring 20 to 30-minute interviews by Tripp Babbitt with members of the Deming Community who are advancing the use and explanations of Dr. Deming's ideas. 

In our April podcast, Doug Hall, Eureka! Ranch CEO and Founder, shares ruminations on leadership from his wide-ranging conversations with business leaders, as he stretches his imagination to ask "What is the new talk track to engage a leadership person who is feeling chaotic?"

With a 30+ year background in Deming management, Doug well appreciates the potential for "joy in work," yet asks "Where's the joy (to be found today)?.   In his meetings with senior executives, he finds tell-tale signs of broken interactions, systems likely to fail slow and expensively rather than "fast and cheap."   Upon probing them, he learned "they have no idea" what to do when the existing platforms (systems) are not working.   Worse yet, he finds executives overwhelmed by the speed of change in the world today, often consumed by chaos.

On the bright side, he hears of a need for systems that enable workers, not control them, as executives ponder "What the new type of leadership needs to be?" and the need, now more than ever, for openness to change, with women leading the way, per Doug's experience.   

For those having similar thoughts on helping leadership and change in a rapidly changing world, with ample opportunities for infusing Deming management, Tripp's latest podcast offers serious food for thought from a master innovator.

Direct download: DemingEpisode38.m4a
Category:Interviews -- posted at: 2:44am PST

Commencing in 2014, The Deming Institute has recorded podcasts on a monthly basis, featuring 20 to 30-minute interviews by Tripp Babbitt with members of the Deming Community who are advancing the use and explanations of Dr. Deming's ideas. 

In our January podcast, Tim Higgins, President of the In2:InThinking Network,, and Quality Engineer for NASA, based in Los Angeles, California, shares insights from his 30+ years of studying, applying, and illuminating The Deming System of Profound Knowledge®.

Following a brief career as an educator in a public school system, Tim shifted careers and joined the rocket engine industry, employed by “Rocketdyne” (a division of Rockwell, then Boeing, followed by Pratt & Whitney, and now integrated with Aerojet). Along the way, Tim was introduced to Dr. Deming’s theory of management and, upon reflection, realized his inclinations against grades in school, while serving as a teacher, could be explained through his appreciation of Profound Knowledge.   For a short time, Tim was a member of Rocketdyne’s TQM Office, where he was introduced to the thinking of Genichi Taguchi and partnered with peers to create Rocketdyne’s pioneering “InThinking Roadmap” curriculum.   The subsequent focus on thinking modes led to his contributions as a co-founder of the In2:InThinking Network, a non-profit for which he now serves as president.  

In 2009, Tim crossed the employment bridge from the contractor side (“Rocketdyne”) to the customer side (NASA), inspired the proposition of assuming a role that would help Rocketdyne become a better contractor.

Guided by his extraordinary experiences as a quality advisor, Tim has led study sessions for Dr. Deming’s The New Economics for the past 12+ years, under the sponsorship of “Rocketdyne”.    Beginning in 2017, these sessions, comprised of six 90-minute conference calls, are being sponsored by The Deming Institute.   Led by Tim, participants share their interpretations and questions of The New Economics, chapter-by-chapter, covering 2 chapters in each 2-hour session.    A few highlights from Tim’s musings with Tripp on the study sessions follow below:

  • Why he believes Deming (management) is about learning
  • The popularity of the question "Why doesn’t everyone get “Deming management”?"
  • Why being conscious of context is essential
  • Why, when dealing with a difficulty in perception, using logic is no help is helping others see things differently
  • Issues associated with extrinsic motivation – punishment and rewards
  • Some challenges of letting go of “patting others” on the head
  • The widespread similarity of organizations
  • What would happen if “rating and ranking” systems were used at home?
  • Lessons from transforming his manager
  • Feedback from his VP’s administrative assistant on rewards systems
  • His realization that the system we have is perfectly designed to obtain the results we’re getting
  • Why asking for different results requires a different system
  • Some implications of empowerment
Direct download: DemingEpisode37.m4a
Category:Interviews -- posted at: 11:57pm PST

10 Minutes with Dr. Deming – Employment

Commencing in 2014, The Deming Institute has recorded podcasts on a monthly basis, featuring 20 to 30-minute interviews by Tripp Babbitt with members of the Deming Community who are advancing the use and explanations of Dr. Deming's ideas.   Beginning in 2016, Tripp introduced a second series of podcasts, with a focus on current events, coupled with commentary from Dr. Deming, sessions titled “10 Minutes with Dr. Deming.”  

In the 5th 10 Minutes episode, Tripp explores the need for layoffs and prospects for organizational improvement through the utilization of Dr. Deming’s management method in the 21st century.   

To borrow from the opening page of Dr. Deming’s book, The New Economics,

The people of the word no longer live in isolation…..People make comparisons….Anybody else lives better, so everybody supposes...
People blame their plight on to the government and its leaders, or to management and its leaders.   They may be correct.  But will change in leadership assure better living?    What if the new leaders are no better?   How could they be?   How much time have new leaders to demonstrate that they have brought a better life?   By what method could new leaders bring improvement in living? 

Using excerpts of interviews with Dr. Deming, dating back to 1980, Tripp reminds us of Dr. Deming’s vision of guiding leaders, whether Mayor or President, Democrat or Republican, University Chancellor or Vice President of Finance, Hospital Administrator or Police Chief, away from “best efforts and hard work, not guided by new knowledge, they only dig deeper the pit that we are in."   

Dr. Deming’s aim in writing The New Economics was to bring new knowledge.  “This book,” he wrote, “will teach and explore some basic ground rules of knowledge for change.”  In this podcast, hear Dr. Deming talk about the Japanese industrial miracle, the use of statistical methods and statistical thinking, including their roles and their limits, the job of management, productivity, and crisis management.   


If you have comments or suggestions for future 10 Minutes with Dr. Deming topics, please contact Tripp at or through Twitter @demingpodcast.

Direct download: 10_Minutes_with_Dr._Deming_-_Episode_5.m4a
Category:10 Minutes with Dr. Deming -- posted at: 1:00am PST

Skip Steward, Chief Improvement Officer, Baptist Memorial Health Care - From Manufacturing to Healthcare - Reflections on Continuous Improvement

Commencing in 2014, The Deming Institute has recorded podcasts on a monthly basis, featuring 20 to 30-minute interviews by Tripp Babbitt with members of the Deming Community who are advancing the use and explanations of Dr. Deming's ideas.

In our December podcast, Skip Steward, Chief Improvement Office (CIO) for Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation in Memphis, Tennessee shares lessons from the “Baptist Management System,” including reflections from his 25+ year continuous improvement journey.    Guided by his introduction to Dr. Deming’s vision of continuous improvement, Skip “migrated” from an early career in manufacturing to his current career in healthcare.   One year ago, he was promoted from System Director for Continuous Improvement to serve as Baptist Health Care’s first-ever “CIO”, with an “I” for Improvement.

In addition to his explanation of the Baptist Management System, (“a holistic approach to managing that puts a focus on purpose, people and process. We care about the purpose, how to improve the process, and how we develop the people to improve the process.), Skip emphasizes his “infant stages” role in leading the shift in thinking within Baptist Health Care.   In doing so, Skip explains the holistic nature he captured and distilled from Dr. Deming’s management method and what he is doing with this wisdom to challenge and limit the otherwise “business as usual” tendency towards event-driven and episodic improvements.   While crediting the tools of Hoshin Planning, Design of Experiments, Statistical Process Control, Value Stream Mapping, and Pareto charts in both clinical and non-clinical settings, Skip is quick to acknowledge the role of placing a priority on being guided by a Deming lens before proceeding to the “faster-better-cheaper” efficiency of tools.  

Direct download: DemingEpisode36.m4a
Category:Interviews -- posted at: 2:27am PST

Deming Research Fellow in Public Affairs, Professor Ravi Roy

Commencing in 2014, The Deming Institute has recorded podcasts on a monthly basis, featuring 20 to 30-minute interviews by Tripp Babbitt with members of the Deming Community who are advancing the use and explanations of Dr. Deming's ideas.

In our November podcast, Ravi Roy, Professor of Public Administration for Southern Utah University (SUU) in Cedar City, Utah, reveals the status of evolving efforts to share his appreciation of Dr. Deming’s System of Profound Knowledge® with his Public Administration students, strongly aligned with his role as the inaugural Research Fellow of The Deming Institute.

Beginning in the 1920s, with his employment by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Dr. Deming worked closely with students to share his research into statistical theory.  Along the way, he was introduced to Professor Harold Hotelling, who Deming would later reference with the following comment, “As Harold Hotelling once said, “He who does no research has nothing to teach.””  Inspired by Dr. Deming’s passion for research, The Deming Institute recently unveiled a fellowship program to engage researchers who share a desire to both expand and deepen the understanding and application of Dr. Deming’s management philosophy among a new generation of students and scholars.  Link here to learn more about this Research Fellow program.

In this month's episode, Ravi shares reflections from his Deming research journey and his passion for guiding his student’s understanding and application of Dr. Deming’s management method. As the former director of SUU’s Masters in Public Administration program, Ravi is progressing to a role as director of the Deming Incubator for Public Affairs for Southern Utah University, a new partnership with The Deming Institute.    Under Ravi’s leadership, SUU students will soon have the opportunity to engage him in applying Dr. Deming’s “new economics for industry, government, education,” with an emphasis on government.

Direct download: DemingEpisode35.m4a
Category:Interviews -- posted at: 11:15pm PST