A great Deming-ism I just stumbled across in my old notes from a Scott Sedam article How To Get Smart from the 7/11/2000 issue of Professional Builder:
Deming lamented that our companies and our country were becoming so obsessed with job skills that we were turning every educational endeavor into a trade school. He had nothing against trade schools, but he said it is an insult to not give people the opportunity to learn, grow and develop by thinking — not simply teaching instructions and procedures. And this goes for people at all levels. Knowing the fact or the thing is usually less important than knowing how it got that way.
My favorite Deming example that he used to illustrate goes as follows: Take two kids. Give them each an assignment. Tell one to go find out the name of the capital of Wisconsin. Tell the other to find out why the capital of Wisconsin is Madison. Deming would simply smile and say, “Oh, what a difference.”
The difference, of course, is that student No. 2 would have to research, explore, think, reason — work his brain. And here’s the key. The next day, at his job at the Costco warehouse, Student Two would be much more likely to think of a better way to do a job. Thinking begets thinking.