Deming Prize

The Deming Prize and Development of Quality Control/Management in Japan

The Deming Prize that is given to organizations, has exerted an immeasurable influence directly and indirectly on the development of quality control/management in Japan.

Applicant organizations and divisions of companies sought after new approaches to quality management that met the needs of their business environment and challenged for the Deming Prize. Those organizations developed effective quality management methods, established the structures for implementation and put the methods into practice.

Commonly, those who have challenged for the Prize share the feeling that they have had a valuable experience and that the management principle of achieving a business success through quality improvement has really worked. Through witnessing the success of these organizations, many other organizations have been inspired to begin their own quest for quality management. Learning from those who went before them, the new practitioners are convinced that quality management is an important key to their business success and that the challenge to attain the Prize can provide an excellent opportunity to learn useful quality methodologies. Thus, quality management has spread to many organizations, its methods have evolved over the years and the methods contributed to the advancement of these organizations' improvement activities.

This mechanism that encourages each organization's self-development comes from the examination process of the Deming Prize, though the very process has invited some criticism that the marking criteria for the Deming Prize is unclear. To make the examination process more transparent and to communicate the intentions of the Deming Prize more clearly, the evaluation criteria and the judgment criteria for passing are now presented.

However, the Committee's basic stance on the examination criteria remains unchanged. Namely, the criteria should reflect each applicant organization's circumstance.

The Deming Prize examination does not require applicants to conform to a model provided by the Deming Prize Committee. Rather, the applicants are expected to understand their current situation, establish their own themes and objectives and improve and transform themselves organization-wide. Not only the results achieved and the processes used, but also the effectiveness expected in the future are subjects for the examination. To the best of their abilities, the examiners evaluate whether or not the themes established by the applicants were commensurate to their situation; whether or not their activities were suitable to their circumstance and whether or not their activities are likely to achieve their higher objectives in the future.

The Deming Prize Committee views the examination process as an opportunity for "mutual-development," rather than "examination." While in reality the applicants still receive the examination by a third party, the examiners' approach to evaluation and judgment is comprehensive. Every factor such as the applicants' attitude toward executing Total Quality Management (TQM), their implementation status and the resulting effects are taken into overall consideration. In other words, the Deming Prize Committee does not specify what issues the applicants must address, rather the applicants themselves are responsible for identifying and addressing such issues, thus, this process allows quality methodologies to be further developed.

Total Quality Control (TQC) that had been developed in Japan as discussed above was re-imported to the United States in the 1980s and contributed to the revitalization of its industries. While the term TQC had been used in Japan, it was translated as TQM in western nations. To follow an internationally-accepted practice, Japan changed the name from TQC to TQM.

There is no easy success at this time of constant change. No organization can expect to build excellent quality management systems just by solving problems given by others. They need to think on their own, set lofty goals and drive themselves to challenge for achieving those goals. For these organizations that introduce and implement TQM in this manner, the Deming Prize aims to be used as a tool for improving and transforming their business management.