Deming's 95/5 Rule and the Limits of Individual Excellence

Deming’s 95-5 Rule And The Limits of Individual Excellence

W. Edwards Deming, the father of statistical process control, a demi-god of industrial engineering in Japan and a critical thinker about business processes, came up with this rule:

“95% of variation in the performance of a system is caused by the system itself; only 5% is caused by the people.”

W. Edwards Deming, Introduction to The Team Handbook

This is now generally known as the Deming “95/5 Rule.” You can read a lot more about Deming herehere, and here (Wikipedia).

Engelbart and Nelson, the godparents of the World Wide Web

Ted Nelson’s Xanadu (Wikipedia link) and Computer Lib/Dream Machines (also Wikipedia because it doesn’t seem possible to buy it)

Doug Engelbart’s Augment System (Wikipedia) and The Mother Of All Demos at the 1968 IEEE (not AAAI!) and ACM Joint Computer Conference. Mindblowing for its time.

Sportsball links

  • Lebron James‘ career stats
  • Michael Jordan‘s career stats
  • Steph Curry‘s career stats – I wrote up a bunch of Curry-related information for the podcast but didn’t have time to include it.

Links and resources

  • Would you like personalized advice and guidance on how to apply powerful mental models to become more effective? Or fix your systems to become even more effective than that? I’m happy to spend 1/2 hour with you on a Zoom call to talk about whatever challenge or problem you might be facing, with no obligation. Sign up for a free “office hours” session with me at
  • My book, The Secret Product Manager Handbook, is full of great information and tools for product management you won’t find anywhere else.

Hubert Palan interview

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