Sarasohn - Ever Heard of Him?


Fully vaccinated are you?
If you haven't, take a read at:

It starts out:

Stranger in a Strange Land

How Homer Sarasohn Brought Industrial Quality to Japan and Why It Took Japan So Long to Learn

By Robert X. Cringely

Last week's column mentioned Homer Sarasohn, who among many things was at one time the chief engineer for IBM. Not many people know about Sarasohn, but even the mention of his name prompted several readers to ask for more. So this week, I'm taking a break from my series on new companies to take a look at a classic Sarasohn story. And at the same time, we get to look at the whole business of industrial quality control from a different -- and I hope enlightening -- perspective. This is the story of how Japan came to appreciate quality and why it took so long to happen. It's not the story you expect. And it's the sort of lesson that's so important that we as a society have already forgotten it.
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Andy Bassett

No i have never heard of him. Is it true?

Actually (I know i am going to get eaten now) I always found Deming a bit over-rated, i suspected he was a little contradictory in his writings and statements. Could i be the only person that has twice failed to get to the end of 'Out of the Crisis'?.

He did produce another book which was basically written from the point of view of an attendant at one of his seminars, and this was a lot more digestable (Could it have been written by Bill Latzko?).


Andy B

[This message has been edited by Andy Bassett (edited 12 July 2000).]

Roger Eastin

You're right - Deming was not a great writer (and he could ramble if you ever saw him in person). However, his ideas, though not original, were "right on the mark". Overrated? No, I don't think so. Any one of his points has plenty of evidence in American management. I can't speak for the management in your country, but Deming, for us peasants, was (is) a breath of fresh air!

Don Watt

I don't know about the accuracy of the article, I certainly have never thought of Deming as a master of self promotion.
For those who are interested in following up by reading Sarasohn's work there was a copy of his manual written for the Japanese on the Deming Electronic Network at

Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!

Well put. It is one writer's perspective. The reader of any article or print must keep this in mind. Do you believe everything your read? I don't. However, I believe that there may be some truth with what the article states.

In many books written by Japanese Quality contributors, (Kaizen, by Imai comes to mind immediately) I have noticed it mentioned (by the author or one of his sources) that many of the ideas and concepts that Deming is noted for, were in fact, other folks contributions. Who is right? I don't know. Still, it doesn't matter much to me, so long as I can agree with the concept presented, not so much the presentor.

I enjoyed the article. Interesting to me. I also can't help but point out that Deming gives plenty of credit to many folks, even those folks he can't remember (their name anyway) are given proper credit (i.e. some person in one of his 4 day seminar makes a statement that makes a passage in any of his books). This does not seem to be consistent with a self proclaimer, IMHO. Juran has been accused of the same thing. That one doesn't bother me much either. I'd rather focus on the concepts.



Back to the group...

John C

I think there is a whole lot of nonsense talked about the Japanese way to success. In my experience, dealing with Japanese companies, they base their sucess on highly enducated and committed engineers, attention to detail, practical management and smart, long term investment. By comparison, Western managers are always on the look out for the main chance, in their careers, in their goals and in their short term tactics.
I've always said, only half jokingly, that the Japanese spread these quality fads to keep us occupied while they left us behind by good engineering. Let's face it, statistical variation was no secret in the '50s, either to the Japanese or to anyone else; "It's not what you do but the way that you do it". And look, 50 years later, who is applying Deming's theories from the top down? Not many.
I suggest that what Deming brought back from Japan, about management, was more significant than what whoever it was took to Japan about variation. We have to assume that that was where he learned it.
What I like about Deming is the way he lays into management and makes them responsible, as opposed to every other guru who takes responsibility from management and gives it to specialists. Whether that was the reason he is rated so high, I can't say, but that's one reason why he deserves to be.
rgds, John C

Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!
Don't worry Andy. No one bites here that I know of.

I think the wise person leaves themself open to new information. It is necessary for developing one's theory. When a person aligns themself with a 'guru', hopefully it is done because they find that their own theory closely resembles a guru's (coincidence). At least, that's what I think. I started out a firm believer in Feigenbaum. Now, a Deming disciple (I am still heavily influenced by many other gurus and non-gurus). Maybe it will change again when I am influenced by a new piece of information and my theory changes? Who knows?

As a Deming disciple, I appreciate the fact that there are folks out there who don't see eye to eye with every Deming concept (I don't either). How else can theory be refined without testing it or putting it against another one? It is what strengthens your theory, or causes one to reevaluate, and perhaps adopt the new one. Perhaps it is a blend of both? You don't need to cringe to speak your mind, but I appreciate your sensitivity to your reading audiance.



Laura M

Anyone out there read "Mind and the World Order" that Deming sites 4 times in Out of the Crisis?
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