"Those who apply themselves too closely to little things often become incapable of great things." Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Thursday, May 22, 2008

What is a System of Profound Knowledge?

"The first step is transformation of the individual. This transformation is discontinuous. It comes from understanding of the system of profound knowledge. The individual, transformed, will perceive new meaning to his life, to events, to numbers, to interactions between people." - W. Edwards Deming

W. Edwards Deming was an iconic figure in 20th century business management. I figurehead whom the Japanese regard as the symbol their industrial rebirth, and economic worldwide success. Deming advocated what he termed "A system of profound knowledge." His system of profound knowledge was broken down to the following 4 principles:

1) Appreciation of a System
2) Knowledge of variation
3) Theory of Knowledge
4) Knowledge of Psychology

Deming observed that an organization that is governed through a system of profound knowledge, purposefully and consistently, will thrive off of the continual improvement that is nurtured through such a system. He believed that an organization must begin with each individual and in a sense allow them to see their meaningful impact on the development of the whole organization. The opposite of which would be what most of us know as "compartmentalization" - that is, where we only see and know what we must do, and know nothing else of how we interrelate with the whole of the enterprise.

Deming insisted that employees where to a large extent constrained by the system they worked in. Management's role as such, must revolve around maximizing the development of the system, and the proper role of each employee for the proper functioning of the system. And, that each employee possessed a unique endowment that must be understood by management to properly engage the individual from his area of strength.

The thorough understanding of the intricacies of systems, control processes, and meaningful variables allowed Deming to contribute his theories not only to businesses, but also as a template for education and government reform.

One Deming's most famous dictum is that of "continuous improvement" or kaizen in Japanese. He advocated a purposeful consistency based on continuous improvement. The reasoning involved not only enhanced capacity and innovation, but accordingly costs would ultimately lower as a side-effect of a focus on quality and continuous improvement.

A debt of gratitude to an individual who took profound knowledge to a new level.

Angel Armendariz
"We are all in Sales. Period." - Tom Peters