The Deming Management Method by Mary Walton is a business guide for improving profits and productivity based on the principles of American statistician W. Edwards Deming. His 14 key principles for making businesses run better are provocative, widely referenced and, we at FieldStack believe, greatly relevant to lean retail.

One of Deming’s main ideas can be distilled to the gestalt principle that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. He believed that expensive new machinery is not a shortcut to productivity. Adding a $50 million machine to your production line won’t automatically make your system run faster. The whole system needs to be reengineered.

The same holds true for software and retail in particular. Buying a killer inventory management system with all the latest bells and whistles won’t make your whole chain run faster. For improvements to happen, changes need to be made on every level — from employee training to customer service to inventory and reorders on the backend.

Deming believed the strongest organizations are the ones that have created a management system that ties its ideas together into one cohesive whole, and favor long-term planning over short-term reaction. Businesses should not drive decisions based on quotas or inspections. Instead, he placed value on the customer, respecting employees and creating systems that allow employees to drive improvement.

Like Deming’s ideas on management, the principles of flow efficiency provide businesses with the tools to focus on employees instead of merely fixing problems as they happen. Lean retail and Deming’s management method are big picture solutions. We recommend this book for more information on why.

Brett Wickard, Founder

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retail software for local chains