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The Real Meaning of Quality

Quote from last published interview with the late W. Edwards Deming.

"Management today does not know what its job is. In other words, [managers] don't understand their responsibilities. They don't know the potential of their positions. And if they did, they don't have the required knowledge or abilities. There's no substitute for knowledge. . . .

"What should be the aim of management? What is their job? Quality is the responsibility of the top people. Its origin is in the boardroom. They are the ones who decide. Quality means what will sell and do a customer some good -- at least try to. The customer is the one who supports us. We have to present to him something that he needs, in a way that he can use it. Study his needs, get ahead of him. The customer invents nothing. The customer does not contribute to design of product or the design of the service. He takes what he gets. Customer expectations? Nonsense. No customer ever asked for the electric light, the pneumatic tire, the VCR, or the CD. All customer expectations are only what you and your competitor have led him to expect. He knows nothing else."

-- From the last published interview with W. Edwards Deming, in the January 17, 1994 edition of Industry Week magazine

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Last updated: Jun 1, 1994

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