WHO IS W. EDWARDS
DEMING AND WHAT DOES
HE OFFER EDUCATION?
If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live that life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.
— Henry David Thoreau, Walden
In 1983, the Firestone tire plant in La Vergne, Tennessee, was bought by Bridgestone, a Japanese company. Until that time, Firestone manufactured and sold three grades of tires: excellent, average, and inferior. Under the new management, they now produce only one kind of tire — excellent. (Walton 1990). There is a powerful analogy here for American public schools, which currently are tooled to produce three kinds of students: well educated, not so well educated, and poorly educated.
Many would say that the man whose work accounts for Bridgestone's success, as well as that of Japanese industry in general, is an American management theorist and statistician by the name of W. Edwards Deming. During the 1930s, Deming, a physicist at the time, was working at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. While there, he was associated with a statistician named Walter A. Shewhart, whose achievement was developing techniques that helped to reduce waste and promote improvement of industrial and manufacturing processes. He taught both management and workers to keep statistics on the processes and results of their work. This data then could be used to determine whether the processes could be adjusted to ensure greater efficiency. This work became the basis for Deming's theories.