Can Your Executives Answer Deming’s WHAT and HOW Questions on the Company’s Future?

Getting management to plan how to ensure the lasting survival of your company is why quality guru W. Edwards Deming asked his famous “WHAT?” and “HOW?” questions.

Deming would ask, “If you want your company to reach Operational Excellence in the next five years, then explain to us all, EXACTLY HOW will you do it?”



W. Edwards Deming, the father of the Japanese quality revolution, asked four insightful questions about creating a purposeful business that is customer-centric. Two questions are in his book, Out of the Crisis, and two in his final book, The New Economics. The questions were aimed at getting you to think straight and to think right about your organization’s purpose and how it is best achieved.

Listed in order the questions are:

  1. What business are we in? (The New Economics, Pg. 10, 1994, MIT Press)
  2. What product or service will help our customers more? (The New Economics, Pg. 10)
  3. Where do you hope to be five years from now? (Out of the Crisis, Pg. 19, 2000, MIT Press)
  4. How may you reach this goal—by what method? (Out of the Crisis, Pg. 19)

Those questions are always relevant, honest and true. In The New Economics Deming gives the example of why carburettor makers went out of business. Their mistake was they thought they were in the carburettor making business. They were very wrong—they were actually in the “stoichiometric fuel delivery” business. As soon as fuel injection made vehicles more economic and reliable the carburettor was doomed, and so were the makers of carburettors, because they never understood what their customers really wanted from their business.

Deming’s message is: Your business has to keep innovating and inventing new solutions that improve customers’ lives. Otherwise someone else will, and then you become irrelevant.

Those four questions above are fundamental to everything a business will ever achieve. If your vision is that in five years time you want your company to be one of the greats of your industry, then HOW do you do that? Deming’s questions demand we decide exactly HOW to get there, all the way to the successful conclusion. The answer to that vital business survival need is why the Plant Wellness Way business system-of-reliability was invented.

If you are interested in the answer we give to industrial businesses who ask us, “HOW EXACTLY does LRS Consultants get companies to Operational Excellence?” It is summarized in the EXECUTIVE REPORT you can download immediately with this web-link: How industrial operations use Plant Wellness Way to get world class production.


Stoichiometric is the ideal proportion of constituents in a mix of chemicals


All the best to you,

Mike Sondalini
Managing Director
Lifetime Reliability Solutions HQ