The System of Profound Knowledge (SoPK) is the culmination of Dr. W. Edwards Deming’s lifelong work. It is an effective theory of management that provides a framework of thought and action for any leader wishing to transform and create a thriving organization, with the aim for everybody to win. By management appropriately applying the principles and practices of SoPK, a business can simultaneously reduce costs through reducing waste, rework, staff attrition and litigation, while increasing quality, customer loyalty, worker satisfaction and, ultimately, profitability.
SoPK ties together Dr. Deming’s seminal theories and teachings on quality, management and leadership into four interrelated areas: appreciation for a system, knowledge of variation, theory of knowledge and psychology.
Click on the links in the grey bar below for a synopsis of each area.
Perhaps Dr. Deming’s greatest contribution and biggest departure from the past was to view an organization as a system. He defined a system as a network of interdependent components that work together to try to accomplish the aim of the system. The aim for any system should be that everybody gains, not one part of the system at the expense of any other. In a business context this includes shareholders, customers, suppliers, employees, the community and the environment. Dr. Deming used the analogy of an orchestra to illustrate the concept of a system, “An orchestra is judged by listeners, not so much by illustrious players, but by the way they work together. The conductor, as manager, begets cooperation between the players, as a system, every player to support the others. There are other aims for an orchestra, such as joy in work for the players and the conductor.”
Taking a systems approach enables management to view its organization in terms of many internal and external interrelated connections and interactions, as opposed to discrete and independent departments or processes governed by various chains of command. When all the connections and interactions are working together to accomplish a shared aim, a business can achieve tremendous results—from improving the quality of its products and services, to raising the entire esprit de corps of a company.
Through illuminating demonstrations, brilliant statistical models and real-world examples in business, Dr. Deming showed time and again how thinking in terms of a system is critically important for discovering, analyzing and solving a wide range of problems that businesses continually face, including processes, product design, customer satisfaction and even company morale. Indeed, in his estimation the vast majority of the problems a business is having lies in the system. Improve the system, and the problems go away.