Management Theory of W. Edwards Deming Key Terms

Understanding the key elements of W. Edwards Deming's theories and revelations

W. Edwards Deming saw his career as a management theorist blossom while teaching business practices in Japan in the 1950s. Deming's management theory, known as "The System of Profound Knowledge," has become a widely used management practice over the last decade. There are several elements to his theoretical practices, and it's important to understand all of them in order to fully grasp Deming's ideals, put them into practice and see real change in your company's management processes.


Deming's definition of the system is the overall structure of a business, including management, employees, clients, tasks and projects. It includes the core working components of how a business functions and develops and is the core of Deming's theories.


According to Deming, every process within your business will include variations, or results and reactions that are different from other similar circumstances. Deming views variations as negative and his ultimate goal is for a business to eliminate them through the use of his theories.

PDCA cycle

The PDCA cycle, also know as the PDSA cycle, was first theorized by Walt Shewhart and later adopted by Deming in his System of Profound Knowledge. It stands for plan, do, check (study) and act-a cycle of activities necessary for the proper management of a system.
The Clinician's Bag of Quality Improvement Tools, a resource offered by Dartmouth Medical School.


TQM stands for Total Quality Management, a concept developed by Deming while assisting Japanese businesses in their structural practices. It is the combination of prioritizing customer satisfaction and implementing suggestions from non-traditional resources, especially employees, resulting in optimal quality.
Educational Resources Information Center abstract on TQM gives additional background on Deming's approach.

14 Points

Deming's 14 Points, also known as the 14 Principles of Management or the Fourteen Admonitions, are basically rules to live by in attempting to quantify your management process.

Seven Deadly Diseases

Deming's Seven Deadly Diseases are the seven things that he believes will ruin the proper quality management of a system.