Knowing Japan’s poverty, Deming refused any payment for his 1950 lectures. He used the proceeds from reprints to create the Deming Application Prize and the Deming Prize. The Deming Application Prize is a prestigious award given annually since 1951 to companies with outstanding total quality programs, following a rigorous audit of their operations. On the other hand, the Deming Prize is an award given to outstanding individuals. The awards– medals bearing Deming’s likeness– are given each year with great fanfare and attendant publicity. [ Deming Real Contribution ]
Each year since 1951, Japanese industry has awarded the highly valued Deming Prize to a company or individual that or who has actively contributed to the spreading and development of statistical techniques for quality improvement. Recipient companies include Nissan, Toyota, Hitachi and Nippon Steel. Florida Power and Light became the first non-Japanese company to win the Deming Prize (in 1989). Companies like Texas Instruments, Nashua Corporation, Ford Motor Company, AT&T, Dow Chemicals and General Motors are changing their ways to fit with Deming’s principles. Dr. Deming holds the Second Order Medal of the Sacred Treasure, bestowed on him by the late Emperor Hirohito in 1960, for valuable contributions to Japan’s economy. He has received numerous other awards, honorary doctorates and medals, including the National Medal of Technology from the US President. He has authored a number of books including Out of the Crisis and Quality, Productivity and Competitive Position as well as 161 scholarly studies. He has been credited as being the father of the third wave of the industrial revolution. But despite all this fame, Deming still modestly preferred to be known as a consultant in statistical studies.
Despite that measure of fame, Deming might well have remained relatively unknown in his own country had he not been “discovered” in 1980 by Claire Crawford-Mason, a veteran news reporter and TV producer. Mason was putting together a documentary on the decline of American competitiveness for NBC called “If Japan Can …Why Can’t We?”
On the suggestion of a faculty member at American University in Washington, Mason looked for Deming in his basement office in American University Park. She was amazed to find a man who seemed to know the answer to the program’s provocative question, living and working about five miles from the White House. Best of all, from the viewpoint of a TV producer in search of an exclusive, virtually nobody outside the rather arcane world of quality control had ever heard of him. [ Deming Real Contribution ]
“If Japan Can …Why Can’t We?” aired on June 24, 1980. The final 15 minutes were devoted to Deming and his consulting work at Nashua Corporation, a New Hampshire manufacturer of carbonless paper.
Among other things, Deming told the interviewer, “I think people here expect miracles. American management thinks that they can just copy from Japan. But they don’t know what to copy.”
The show was one of the most successful business documentaries ever and it turned Deming into a celebrity literally overnight. The next day, his office was bombarded with phone calls. This was in 1980 and a lot of American companies were looking for something, in fact, anything that might help them stem the tide of red ink. Deming’s message was a wake-up call for American industry. Across the nation, the best senior executives heard the alarm. Among the early callers was Ford, which credits Deming’s philosophy with spearheading its amazing comeback in the 1980s. Besides Ford, notable Deming disciples include K-Mart, Hospital Corporation of America and Florida Power and Light, the utility that in 1989 became the first US entrant to win the Deming Prize for Overseas Companies, an offshoot of the Japanese annual award.
In the decade that followed, after a delay of over thirty years, Deming’s philosophy was, at last, spreading in the West. Numerous Deming user groups in America, the MANS Foundation in Holland, the Deming Institute in New Zealand, the British Deming Association and the Association Française E. Deming have been formed to promote awareness and understanding of Deming’s work. Their aim is also to help group members toward the implementation of his principles. His teachings are currently attracting a greater number of followers than ever before.
He is also increasingly recognised as being the man with the most profound influence on the world’s industrial history to date. [ Deming Real Contribution ]