Principle 10: Eliminate Slogans and Exhortations

Deming’s Principle of Management n. 10 full statement is as follows:

“Eliminate slogans and exhortations for the work force asking for zero defects and new levels of productivity. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships, as the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the system and thus lie beyond the power of the work force.”

Posters such as “Quality depends on You” are facile and damaging. Improvement of the system is the responsibility of management. Most people are at work want to do a good job, and typically it will be the system that is preventing them. Poor training, poor tools, inadequate information, defective raw material are all examples of how the system can defeat the best efforts of people.

Spending time and money on slogans, banners and monogrammed shirts or mugs is predicated on the assumptions (1) that quality and productivity problems are primarily due to lack of motivation in shop floor operators and (2) that it can be changed by the same kind of marketing campaign that works for selling detergents. Deming’s point is that it is counterproductive and that these assumptions are false.

Slogans, Dr. Deming says repeatedly, never helped anybody do a good job. According to Dr. Deming, the posters slogananeering do not provide the means for employees to do better. While management invests time in posting and promoting these posters and slogans, employees feel the company would be better off if their efforts focused on true quality improvements.

Summing-up: Get rid of unclear slogans. Eliminate exhortations that are meaningless. Let people know exactly what you want – don’t make them guess. Don’t let words and nice-sounding phrases replace effective leadership. Outline your expectations, and then praise people face-to-face for doing good work.


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