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Fire Sermon and Deming's Profound Knowledge System


(A speech by Hanching Chung on May 2 , 1998 at Chinese Deming Center Taipei )

The purpose of this talk is to address some key beliefs of Dr. Deming's legacy in terms of his personal and organizational transformation viewpoints. I'll propose in order to get an deeper understanding of his profound knowledge system, we need to study his faith , hope and love in people.

Starting points: In Peter R. Scholtes's new book The Leader's Handbook, the author gave a profound A Final Thought. He said:

Intrigued by the optimism of Teihard de Chardin, Bill Hunter and I would explore how Deming's philosophy can help humankind evolve into systems that create better places to work and learn, better government, better institutions of health care, and improved organizational pursuits of every kind.It is part of a new renaissance (emphasized by H.C ).

The author also quoted Teihard de Chardin's famous Omega Point. in The End of the World:

The day will come when, after harnessing the ether, the winds, the tides, and gravitationafter all the scientific and technical achievements, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And then, on that days, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire!

First, I like to say that I love this kind of soft thinking or poetic expression. But we are in a dilemma that one of Shewhart and Deming's legacies is operational meaning or definition, so we also love many metaphors without operational meaning but maybe with profound meaning( somebody said one of its origin meaning is Moan!) for the religious man like Dr Deming and many of his friends including something of you.

I know Some of you are Buddhist. Never mind, I believe Deming will appreciate The Fire Sermon by T. S. Eliot(1888-1965) in which he mentioned

Burning burning burning burning

O Lord Thou pluckest me out

O Lord Thou pluckest

O Burning


According to most notes ,we need to refer to Buddhism in Translation by H. C. Warren to understand the fire image and I was shocked to find

the moments of truths in both great religions.

Information, Knowledge, Insight and Understanding

I believe Deming's Philosophy put a lot on the understanding which many people think is equivalent with wisdom. I love the old translation of Bible for the word understanding. The Chinese characters for it means that in order to understand something or somebody, we must listening, with heart, with open mind and to let light in. What a wonderful translationthis is nearly exactly the requirements of Dr. Deming's definition of a leader.

We really need to understand our modern culture is a information cult and information anxiety culture to appreciate ( this word is very meaningful in our context and Deming community) Deming Philosophy.

When I mentioned information cult and anxiety, I actually want to refer two books by Theodore Rozak(The Cult of Information, by the way, Theo used I. F. Stone's Newsletter as an example of his preference and I think many of you may like Stone's last masterpiece which we have a good translation and I like Stone attitude of copyright so that OUP could not trace it.)

Many people will surprise that I quote another T. S. Eliot's work as follows:

Where is the life we have lost in living;

Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge;

Where is the knowledge we have lost in information.

(quoted from Choruses from The Rock)

Well, maybe too many Eliot for this talk but we should remember Dr. Deming chose one Japanese poem to express his quality triangle.

We as a manager or an educator, in this age of www (or world wide mess), need to be very careful in Ultimate Resources(Henry Simons term), that is in people and their time. I believe Deming's significant contribution to Shewhart's legacy is to emphasize on the people. So he mentioned about the most important application of control charts principles is in people. We'll appreciate his concern with people life in organizations so that he talked about destruction forces ,Fear, training and education , Trust , cooperation, money and other havingness as the means of motivation?

I believe in our last transparent film we can appreciate some of Deming's Faith, Hope and Love. But I think some of his stories can help us understand my points.

(Stories skipped.)

Let's review some of Demingism as our understand of Deming Philosophy.

We'll have two group discussions for Transformation and Leadership and Continuous Improvement today and I wish we have a good conference.

Profound Knowledge

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