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Dr. William Edwards Deming (October 14, 1900 - December 20, 1993) was a physicist and statistician, attaining great influence in the fields of management and statistics. He studied for several years with Dr Walter A. Shewhart of Bell Telephone Laboratories. Shewhart's theories of statistical control formed much of the basis for Deming's work.
Deming developed the sampling techniques that were used for the first time during the 1940 U.S. Census, and taught Statistical Quality Control (SQC) techniques to workers engaged in wartime production. They were widely applied during World War II, but faded into disuse a few years later in the face of huge overseas demand for American mass-produced product.
After World War II, Deming was involved in early planning for the 1951 Japanese Census. His expertise, combined with his involvement in Japanese society, led to his receiving an invitation by the Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers (JUSE).
The JUSE members had studied Shewhart's techniques, and as part of Japan's reconstruction efforts they sought an expert to teach statistical control. In 1950, Deming gave the first of a dozen or so lectures on SQC. Unlike his previous lectures, he aimed this message at Japan's chief executives: improving quality will reduce expenses while increasing productivity and market share.
The Japanese manufacturers applied his techniques widely, and experienced new international demand for Japanese products.
In 1960, Deming became the first American to receive the Second Order of the Sacred Treasure from Prime Minister Kishi. An accompanying citation stated that the people of Japan attributed the rebirth and success of their industry to his work.
Deming continued running his own consultancy business in the United States without widespread popular notice in his native United States of America. In 1980, he featured prominently in an NBC documentary, If Japn Can Why Can't We, produced by Clair Crawford Mason, about the increasing industrial competition the United States was facing from Japan. Demand for his services increased dramatically as a result of the broadcast, and Deming continued consulting for industry throughout the world until his death at 93.
He published several books, Out of the Crisis, 1987, and The New Economics.
JUSE eventually introduced an annual award for the best proponent of Total Quality Management in Japan, and to recognize the contributions of Deming, they named this award the Deming Prize.
This biography is an edited version of Deming on the Wikipedia site. By John Hunter Sep 2004, updated Aug 2005.