I believe that progress in consolidating and extending the
Deming Philosophy depends on the creation of a working
**community of scholars.**
Just think what happens when there is a new theory
in physics - relativity for example. Very few people are
capable of creating a theory like that. But the *success*
of the theory does not depend only on originators
like Einstein, Poincar? and Lorenz. (Einstein did most,
but the others made essential contributions).
In addition to the few innovators, we have a larger
group who can develop the theory, making less radical
but important contributions. There is another group
who can clarify and explain the theory.
Then there is the essential group of "appraisers": who may
not innovate themselves, but whose knowledge is deep
enough to understand the theory, and can check the work
of others. Their work must not simply be the negative
work of a critic, but positive, pointing to ways to make
improvements - like the referee of an academic paper.
Finally, there is a very large group who can understand
the ideas well enough to apply them, and can alert the
others to failures or obscurities in the theory.
All four groups are necessary to the existence of a
healthy science. There is, and must be, a great deal of
overlap between these groups. It is fatal, especially in
the case of the Deming Philosophy, to have theorists
who are not doers, or teachers who are not researchers.
Charles Miller, in his post on 17 Dec writes of the danger
of "conjuring and conjecture." These are absolutely
necessary, but dangerous unless we have a well established
supportive system of the kind described.
I do not think that we can all become the equivalent of
Deming or Shewhart. I do think that it is within the reach
of most of us, if we take the time, to understand the theory
well enough to appraise it, and proposed extensions.
Not everyone need do this, and not everyone can spare
the time. No-one can check the theory of relativity
without learning the mathematics, and no one can check the
Deming management theories without deep understanding
of his basic principles. But *given enough time*, most of
us could do it.
In the case of the Deming Philosophy there is no complicated
mathematics to put us off. But there is the barrier of a radically
new way of thinking.
Who will take up the challenge?
Director of Research, British Deming Association