Video Flashback: From 1980 – “If Japan Can … Why Can’t We.”

On June 24, 1980, Americans widely viewed a NBC documentary called “If Japan Can… Why Can’t We.”

This video is 76:38 minutes in length.

The program, part of NBC’s White Paper series, prominently featured Dr. W. Edwards Deming. Produced by Clare Crawford-Mason and narrated by Lloyd Dobyns, this documentary has been unavailable for public viewing for the past 35 years. We are proud to announce that we have secured the perpetual rights for the program and are making it available here and on our website, free of charge.

This compelling documentary, about the ever-increasing industrial competition between the United States and Japan, introduced Dr. Deming to Americans. For the first time, they learned of the then 80-year old American who was widely credited with the Japanese industrial resurgence after WWII. Viewers were astounded to learn that it was this American,

Dr. Deming, who went to Japan in 1950 and began teaching his philosophy to their leadership. They listened and learned as he taught them about quality and productivity. When the program aired, the most coveted industrial award in Japan was The Deming Prize. Named in honor of Dr. Deming, the Deming Prize is still awarded, and highly esteemed, today. Near the close of the program, Lloyd Dobyns asks Dr. Deming, “Would the same methods work in the United States…? Deming’s reply was the catalyst for relentless requests for Deming to help American businesses. Soon the icons of American industry, such as Ford, General Motors, Dow Chemical Company, Xerox and Hughes Aircraft were asking for his help. Now you can view the video that started it all.

Thank you to NBC Universal for working with us to bring “If Japan Can… Why Can’t We?” back to the public. We also extend our sincere gratitude to Clare-Crawford Mason and Bob Mason for their unwavering support of The Deming Institute’s efforts, and for their contributions to this program and the follow-up Deming Library, which Clare says provides the answer to “If Japan Can… Why Can’t We?”

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