Why Drucker said Deming is obsolete now?

In a 2001 lecture (from The Drucker Lectures ) Drucker called W. Edwards Deming, the quality guru, “totally obsolete”.That is a bold statement but as usual Drucker is right. For those who do not know, Deming was one of the main drivers of the Japanese Industrial rise.

In Sayonara Sony, Adam Hartung at Forbes explains this very well:

Why did Sony’s management go along with this?  As mentioned, Akio Morita was an innovator and new market creator.  But, Mr. Morita lived through WWII, and developed his business approach before Deming.  Under Mr. Morita, Sony used the industrial knowledge Deming and his American peers offered to make Sony’s products highly competitive against older technologies.  The products led, with industrial-era tactics used to lower cost.

But after Mr. Morita Sony’s other leaders were trained, like American-minted MBAs, to implement Industrial strategies.  Their minds put products, and new markets, second.  First was a commitment to volume and production – regardless of the products or the technology.  The fundamental belief was that if Sony had enough volume, and cut costs low enough, Sony would eventually succeed.  Without any innovation.

By 2005 Sony reached the pinnacle of this strategic approach by installing a non-Japanese to run the company.  Sir Howard Stringer made his fame running Sony’s American business, where he exemplified Industrial strategy by cutting 9,000 of 30,000 U.S. jobs (almost a full third.) To Mr. Stringer, strategy was not about innovation, technology, products or new markets



6 thoughts on “Why Drucker said Deming is obsolete now?

  1. Nonsense. If this is written simply to get a reaction you were successful. The “point makes no sense at all. Blaming Sony’s problems on Dr Deming is silly

  2. If Sony got in trouble is because they removed the spirit of Masaru Ibuka and the thinking of Dr. Deming out of the company.

    Dr Deming teachings are being perpetuated much better by Toyota, the company that is becoming the new model for industry around the world.

    Mr Hartung shows his myopia or his ignorance on this theme. He should check some intenational trade numbers and read about NUMMI (GM and Toyota joint venture), and many other examples, before sitting at his computer.

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