Though W Edwards Deming's ideas were initially ignored by his native America, they were eventually re-imported in response to the economic threat of the Japanese post-war industrial miracle which they helped spawn.
And for his role in Japan's success story, Deming received the highest honour ever paid to a foreigner the Emperor's Order of the Sacred Treasure, second class.
He is now internationally revered for the principle that all processes are vulnerable to loss of quality through variation in performance but that when these differences are managed they can be decreased and quality raised.
Deming believed quality is about people, not products and that management is responsible for 85 per cent of production faults. He preached the importance of listening to the customer and anticipating his or her needs. "Drive out fear," so that workers would feel free to make improvements, he exhorted. And he insisted firms eliminate management perks like special parking spaces or executive dining rooms because workers found them offensive.
Over 20 years he developed the philosophy expressed in his famous "14 points": 1 Create constancy of purpose for continual improvement of products and service.
2 Adopt the new philosophy created in Japan.
3 Cease dependence on mass inspection: build quality into the product in the first place.
4 End lowest-tender contracts; instead, require meaningful measures of quality along with price.
5 Improve constantly and forever every process for planning, production and service.
6 Institute modern methods of training on the job for all, including management.
7 Adopt and institute leadership aimed at helping people to do a better job.
8 Drive out fear; encourage effective two-way communication.
9 Break down barriers between departments and staff areas.
10 Eliminate exhortations for the work force; they only create adversarial relationships.
11 Eliminate quotas and numerical targets. Substitute aid and helpful leadership.
12 Remove barriers to pride of workmanship, including annual appraisals and management by objectives.
13 Encourage education and self- improvement for everyone.
14 Define top management's permanent commitment to ever- improving quality and productivity and their obligation to implement all these principles.
"American management has a negative scrap value," he is credited as saying. "Like an old refrigerator, you have to pay someone $25 to take it away. "