When I was at Bell Labs I had the good fortune to be one of the key people working on turning around a failing division. As a result in 1994 we became the first US manufacturing company to receive a Deming Award. While such things are true team efforts, I was literally responsible for writing some of the books, organizing, and leading many of the teams that made this possible.
Since that time, I've seen Quality / Business Excellence fads come and go. At least one thread ALL fads have in common is that they claim if you just follow their generic recipe, then your unique business will produce quality! If you think about it, nothing could be more absurd, because each business, each situation, each company is unique. Why would you expect someone else's prescription glasses to solve your vision problem? Even what worked at one time in your own company many not work today (as the Heraclitus cliché goes, you can't even step in the same river twice).
To me, what makes the Deming philosophy timeless is that it is just that: It is a philosophy that must be custom crafted to the people, situation, and times at hand; just like glasses need to be custom fitted to you today. Edward Deming's common rant was, "There is no such thing as instant pudding!" Or in more present-day terms, there is no such thing as cookie-cutter quality.
If you're going to want your glasses custom fitted to you, then may I suggest that you are also going to want the solutions that will help your business grow and excel to be custom created for your business as it must work today.
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Paul Fielding, Ph.D.