Today's leaders can and should draw on 'new' management knowledge
accumulated, tested, and found to be true repeatedly since World War
II. Though the current information-based economy is distinct from the
manufacturing economy that preceded it, the management lessons learned
since WWII continue to deliver results for 'new' leaders who apply
The strength of American industry during WWII was based on the
tremendous scientific advances that had taken place during the
preceding 50 years, and on the innovations of a generation of managers
such as W. Edwards Deming who pioneered the use of statistical methods
to maximize production while simultaneously improving quality controls.
The American victory in WWII was to no small degree heavily influenced
by America's strong industrial base and the innovative management
knowledge that encouraged it to thrive.
After WWII when General Douglas MacArthur was struggling to rebuild
Japan he remembered the miraculous transformation of American industry
during the war and invited people such as Deming to Japan to work with
its industrial leaders. The Japanese, convinced they had been defeated
by industrial might rather than military prowess, wholeheartedly
embraced the new techniques. Japan was able to use the new management
techniques to transform itself from a second-rate industrial producer
known for poor quality into an industrial superpower that soon after
dominated many global manufacturing industries for decades.
American industry rested on its laurels after WWII and by the 1980s
outlooks for American manufacturing were not promising. Faced with
strong competition from abroad, companies as diverse as Harley
Davidson, Ford, and Motorola rediscovered Deming and the approach to
leadership he and his colleagues had pioneered. They applied the 'new'
management methods with great success, producing better products more
cost effectively and allowing them to regain market share. By the
1990s, even skeptics such as Jack Welch of GE were applying these
proven methods, now referred to as Six Sigma (the same information in a
new wrapper). Success for GE and similar firms became the third
confirmation that the new leadership knowledge worked.
Just what are these leadership principles that work so well that entire
countries embracing them have been rehabilitated? In a nutshell,
Deming-style 'new' leadership requires that the following commitments
must be true for companies who wish to thrive in a competitive
- New leaders must insist on an intense focus on the customer and develop ways to bring the customer�s voice into the organization.
- New leaders must insist the entire organization focus intently on developing methods that produce high-quality products and services.
- New leaders must insist on continuous efforts to innovate and further improve the way services are delivered and products created.
Leadership based on these three key commitments and on a continuing
effort to develop and grow in the other ten areas introduced in this
web-based program will have a solid foundation on which to rest.