Deming red bead experiment

White bead experiment Deming’s course

5 deadly diseases from Demings voice

A good explanation

Mayo Clinic video for better understanding:

Results of experiment:

1. The experiment provides a typical illustration of bad management. There are too many employees involved (e.g., inspectors), and the rigid procedures do not allow workers to offer suggestions for improvement. In addition, during the experiment, Deming (who serves as the manager) continually blames the workers for defective products that are caused by the system. 

2. System variation (frequently referred to as random variation) is inevitably present in any process, operation or activity. 

3. Knowledge of one source of system variation, such as the proportion of defects (red beads) in the incoming supply, cannot be used to determine the total effect of system variation, such as the proportion of defects in the output. This is because unobservable factors will always affect performance and there is no basis for assuming that the effects of these factors will be equally distributed across workers. 

4. All workers perform within a system that is beyond their control. 

5. There will always be some workers that are above the average and some workers that are below the average. 

6. A worker’s position in the ranking may vary from one period to the next. 

7. Workers should not be ranked because doing so merely represents a ranking of the effect of the system on the workers. In the red bead experiment, 100 percent of the variation in the workers’ performances is determined by the system. Even in this controlled experiment where the workers use the same inputs and tools, they are all victims of the system and cannot be compared in any meaningful way.1  

8. Only management can change the system. 

9. Empirical evidence (i.e., observations of facts, as opposed to secondhand information, or information further removed from fact such as opinion) is never complete. There are always a large number of variables that affect any set of performance results, many of which are unknown and unknowable.


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