Deming’s 94%

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Deming is misleadingly misquoted about “94% system, 6% people”


I’m discussing the famous “94%” Deming quite on another post, and Andy Cooper sent me back to the original source to see it is a misquote which misdirects everyone. What he actually said in Out Of The Crisis is:


“A fault in the interpretation of observations, seen everywhere, is to suppose that every event (defect, mistake, accident) is attributable to someone (usually the one nearest at hand), or is related to some special event. The fact is that most troubles with service and production lie in the system. Sometimes the fault is indeed local, attributable to someone on the job or not on the job when he should be. We shall speak of faults of the system as common causes of trouble, and faults from fleeting events as special causes… I should estimate that in my experience most troubles and most possibilities for improvement add up to proportions something like this : 94% belong to the system (responsibility of management) 6% special”


Somebody has changed “special” to “people” to try to explain the context. (Or did he change it in a later book? I don’t have them all 🙂)


Deming’s point was to stop looking for *individual* people to blame, look at the system. Nothing about separating people from systems.