Appendix 1: The Red
This experiment can be conducted with a Lightning Calculator Sampling
Bowl or Sampling Box. While Dr. Deming used 80% white beads and 20%
red, you will ﬁnd this experiment done with 80% white and 20% colored.
The colored beads add another dimension to the demonstration. This will be
become self-evident as the script is read.
This is a clever demonstration of the futility of most management systems
for improving quality. Dr. Deming often refers to it as a stupid experiment
that you’ll never forget. The experiment is described in a form similar to Dr.
Deming’s presentation in his seminars. As will be described at the end, it can
also be adopted for very small groups and even a one on one presentation.
The experiment starts with a sampling device that has 80% white and
20% colored beads, normally red beads, hence the name “red bead experi-
ment.” The fact that the some sampling devices have various colored beads
instead of all red is of no consequence, the experiment works just as well.
It is necessary however to have 20% colored beads to go along with the text
of this demonstration. If different colored beads are used instead of all red,
then the colors can represent different kinds of defects. (This will become
clearer as the demonstration is described.)
The objective of the bead factory in the demonstration is to make white
beads. The customer will not accept anything but white beads, all colored
beads are defective. The colored beads themselves represent defects in an
organization’s business processes. They represent a faulty machine or tool, a
Courtesy of Lighting Calculator (http://www.qualitytng.com).