Deming's Principle #3 Cease Dependence on Mass Inspection

Deming's Principle #3 for Transformation of Western Management

Cease dependence on mass inspection (to achieve quality).

What does this mean?

In Deming's words- " Routine 100% inspection to improve quality is equivalent to planning for defects, acknowledgement that the process has not the capability required for specifications. Inspection to improve quality is too late, ineffective, costly."

The old way of doing business is to manage outcomes by detecting defects. Inspection is a countermeasure when you can't trust what you just produced, ordered or received to be defect-free. Inspection itself is rework. It is far better to eliminate the need for inspection on a mass basis by building quality into the product (or service) in the first place. How do we do this?

By constantly monitoring in-process feedback and customer feedback to understand variation. It is this 'scientific' understanding of the workplace that allows work to be redesigned by educated managers and trained, empowered work teams who use LEAN work rules focused on standard work, workflow principles and process improvement tools.

Success is highly dependent on effective leadership and follows from Demings Principle #2- requiring managers and leaders to adopt the new philosophy of management.

That philosophy is nicely summarized by Andrea Gabor in her book The Man Who Discovered Quality, How W. Edwards Deming Brought the Quality Revolution to America.

"In companies that have embraced Deming's vision, management's job is to 'work on the system' to achieve continual product and process improvement.

The Deming-style manager must-

  • ensure a system's consistency and reliability, by bringing
  • level of variation in its operations within predictable limits, then by
  • identifying opportunities for improvement, by
  • enlisting the participation of every employee, and by
  • giving subordinates the practical benefit of his experience and the help they need to chart improvement strategies."