In 1950, Japanese businessmen turned to an obscure American from Wyoming to help them rebuild an economy shattered in World War II. That industrial expert, W. Edwards Deming, taught Japan's manufacturers how to produce top quality products economically. The Japanese used that knowledge to turn the global economy on its head and beat U.S. industry at its own game.
Companies such as Toyota Motor Corp. and Sony Corp. adopted Deming's concepts and became world-class producers in their fields, helping Japan become one of the planet's dominant economic powers. Japan's rise was the start of a regional metamorphosis. Asia eventually became a manufacturing giant. Although American companies could have learned from Deming, most ignored him for decades even as Asian competitors gobbled away at Americans' customer base and profits.