Out of the Crisis, page 19:
The idea is similar to the idea of working smarter not harder. Doing the wrong thing, more, doesn't get you where you want to go. You need to figure out the right things to do and then do them. Ironically, it is hard to figure out the right thing to do.
I am reminded of a quote I heard from Deming (though it may well preceed him): "Don't just do something, stand there." In the context of his management ideas this fits with the concept that working harder at what we have done is not what is needed. We need to figure out what to do and then do it. The quote also relates to the tendancy we have to tamper - institute "solutions" without understanding what is going on (often due to a lack of understanding variation). Tampering is also a failure created by best efforts. Many managers have learned their job is to act, even if they don't have the knowledge needed to make a rational decision: they don't just stand there, do something.Quality and the Required Style of Management by W. Edwards Deming, 1988:
I have also seen variation such as:
Dr. W. Edwards Deming's management ideas have greatly influenced modern management practice. Many quotes and thoughts are attritbuted to W. Edwards Deming's system of management. Sometimes these represent his ideas accurately, and sometimes they do not. Here I attempt to clearly indicate what he actual said and include some of my thoughts on what he meant.