Deming’s Five Diseases of Management

Management is the heart of a company – without it, the company cannot operate, grow or expand. This is all good when management is doing a respectable job. However, management might put the business in real danger if poor decisions have been taken. For this reason, Deming has identified the most common problematic managerial areas and has further explained them through what is known as Deming’s Five Diseases of Management. Each of the five diseases is more extensively discussed below:

1. Lack of constancy of purpose

It goes without saying that a company without a vision is destined to fail. Without long-term goals and aspirations, an organization cannot plan and prepare for what is to come. This is one of the most common mistakes made by management and can be detrimental to the long-term success of the organization. For this reason, it is advised that companies have a clear vision of where they are heading so they can make both short-term and long-term plans.

2. Emphasis on short-term profits

When companies lose sight of their long-term orientation, they become too focused on short-term profits. As a result, long-standing investments for improving quality and minimizing the costs are often overlooked, and the future of the organization is compromised. In order to avoid this ‘disease’ management should shift its focus equally on short-term and long-term planning in order to maximize the organization’s potential to succeed.

3. Annual rating of performance

It’s not uncommon for companies to conduct annual performance reviews in which employees are being assessed by their superior. Although these reviews might help employees improve themselves, they nevertheless feed an egocentric attitude within the company. In other words, teamwork starts to lose sight and people start to work outside teams in order to get the credit for the completed job. This results in a loss of mutual direction among the workforce, which will eventually lead to poor organizational performance. 

4. Mobility of management

Great results come from those people who know the company inside out. And those people are usually the ones that have been around for a long-time and experienced all ups and downs the organization has gone through in the past years.  A deep understanding of the business allows or smarter decisions, wiser choices and as a result increased organizational performance. Therefore, the mobility of management is undeniably another disease of management as proposed by Deming.

5. Use of visible figures only

Another hidden trap management falls into is the single-mindedness when measuring results. Managers will shift their attention onto measurable data and visible figures such as gross sales, profit and loss, stock price and so on. As a result, they lose sight of other intangible measures of performance that are hard to see, but they can nevertheless of utmost importance for the company’s growth and performance. These factors might range from positive customer service to employee motivation and satisfaction.

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