Quality Gurus

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Quality Gurus

PHILIP CROSBY (19262001)

Quality management is the practice of managing the whole production process to produce an excellent (quality) product or service. Quality management focuses on the customer and meeting the customer's needs, and everyone in the firm is responsible for the quality of the product. The basic quality management principles are: quality, teamwork, and proactive management. Quality management is not a single doctrine derived from a particular individual or ideait is a collection of ideasbut there is a core group of contributors known as the Quality Gurus. These are Dr. W. Edwards Deming, Dr. Joseph Juran, Philip Crosby, Shigeo Shingo, Dr. Genichi Taguchi, Dr. Kaoru Ishikawa, Armand V. Feigenbaum, and Dr. H. James Harrington. The Quality Gurus have all had a significant impact on the world through their contributions to improving not only businesses, but all organizations including state and national governments, military organizations, educational institutions, healthcare organizations, and many others.


Dr. W. Edwards Deming (19001993) is probably the most widely-recognized and influential of the Quality Gurus. Deming was trained as a mathematical physicist, and he utilized mathematical concepts and tools (statistical process control) to reduce variation and prevent defects. However, one of his greatest contributions might have been in recognizing the importance of organizational culture and employee attitudes in creating a successful organization. In many ways, his philosophies paralleled the development of the resource-based view of organizations that emphasized that employee knowledge and skills and organizational culture are very difficult to imitate or replicate, and they can serve as a basis of sustainable competitive advantage.

Deming is best known for reminding management that most problems are systemic and that it is management's responsibility to improve the systems so that workers (management and non-management) can do their jobs more effectively. Deming argued that higher quality leads to higher productivity, which, in turn, leads to long-term competitive strength. The theory is that improvements in quality lead to lower costs and higher productivity because they result in less rework, fewer mistakes, fewer delays, and better use of time and materials. With better quality and lower prices, a firm can achieve a greater market share and thus stay in business, providing more and more jobs.

In emphasizing management's responsibility, Deming noted that workers are responsible for 10 to 20 percent of the quality problems in a factory, and that the remaining 80 to 90 percent is under management's control. Workers are responsible for communicating to management the information they possess regarding the system. Deming's approach requires an organization-wide cultural transformation. He advocated a statistical analysis of the manufacturing process and emphasized cooperation of workers and management to achieve high-quality products. Deming's quality methods centered on systematically tallying product defects, analyzing their causes, correcting the causes, and recording the effects of the corrections on subsequent product quality as defects were prevented. He taught that it is less costly in the long run to get things done right the first time than to fix them later.

The Rise of Deming's Influence. Deming worked in the 1930s with Walter A. Shewhart at Bell Telephone Company. Shewhart was a statistician who developed the theory that product control could best be managed by statistics. He developed a statistical chart for the control of product variables. Deming developed a process, based on Shewhart's, using statistical control techniques that alerted managers of the need to intervene in the production process.

He then utilized these techniques during World War II while working on government war production. In 1947 Douglas MacArthur and the U.S. State Department sent Deming to Japan to help the war-devastated Japanese manufacturing plants. He introduced these statistical process control methods in a series of lectures on statistical methods to Japanese businessmen and engineers. The Japanese were an attentive audience and utilized Deming's ideas readily. They found him charming and considerate and listened to his ideas. His concept of employees working toward quality fit well into their personal ideas. His philosophy went beyond statistical quality control and encouraged building quality into the product at all stages.

Deming's System of Profound Knowledge. One of Deming's essential theories is his System of Profound Knowledge, which includes appreciation for a system, knowledge about variation (statistics), theory of knowledge, and psychology (of individuals, groups, society, and change). Although the Fourteen Points are probably the most widely known of Dr. Deming's theories, he actually taught them as a part of his System of Profound Knowledge. His knowledge system consists of four interrelated parts:

  1. Theory of Optimization
  2. Theory of Variation
  3. Theory of Knowledge
  4. Theory of Psychology

The objective of an organization is the optimization of the total system and not the optimization of the individual subsystems. The total system consists of all constituentscustomers, employees, suppliers, shareholders, the community, and the environment. A company's long-term objective is to create a win-win situation for all of its constituents.

Subsystem optimization works against this objective and can lead to a suboptimal total system. According to Deming, it is poor management, for example, to purchase materials or service at the lowest price or to minimize the cost of manufacturing if it is at the expense of the system. Inexpensive materials may be of such inferior quality that they will cause excessive costs in adjustment and repair during manufacturing and assembly.

Deming's philosophy focuses on improving the product and service uncertainty and variability in design and manufacturing processes. Deming believed that variation is a major cause of poor quality. In mechanical assemblies, for example, variations from specifications for part dimensions lead to inconsistent performance and premature wear and failure. Likewise, inconsistencies in service frustrate customers and hurt companies' reputations. Deming taught Statistical Process Control and used control charts to demonstrate variation in processes and how to determine if a process is in statistical control.

There is a variation in every process. Even with the same inputs, a production process can produce different results because it contains many sources of variation; for example, the materials may not always be exactly the same; the tools wear out over time and they are subjected to vibration heat or cold; or the operators may make mistakes. Variation due to any of these individual sources appears at random; however, their combined effect is stable and usually can be predicted statistically. These factors that are present as a natural part of a process are referred to as common (or system) causes of variation.

Common causes are due to the inherent design and structure of the system. It is management's responsibility to reduce or eliminate common causes. Special causes are external to the system, and it is the responsibility of operating personnel to eliminate such causes. Common causes of variation generally account for about 80 to 90 percent of the observed variation in a production process. The remaining 10 to 20 percent are the result of special causes of variation, often called assignable causes. Factors such as bad material from a supplier, a poorly trained operator or excessive tool wear are examples of special causes. If no operators are trained, that is a system problem, not a special cause. The system has to be changed.

Deming emphasized that knowledge is not possible without theory, and experience alone does not establish a theory. Experience only describesit cannot be tested or validatedand alone is no help for management. Theory, on the other hand, shows a cause-and-effect relationship that can be used for prediction. There is a lesson here for the widespread benchmarking practices: copying only an example of success, without understanding it in theory, may not lead to success, but could lead to disaster.

Psychology helps people better understand interactions between people and circumstances, interactions between leaders and employees, and any system of management. Consequently, managing people requires knowledge of psychology. Also required is knowledge of what motivates people. Job satisfaction and the motivation to excel are intrinsic. Reward and recognition are extrinsic.

Management needs to create the right mix of intrinsic and extrinsic factors to motivate employees.

Deming's Main Ideas. Deming is probably best known for his fourteen points for management, but he is also known for the Seven Deadly Diseases and the Deming Cycle.

The fourteen points can be summarized as follows:

  1. Create a plan; publish the aims and purposes of the organization.
  2. Learn and adopt the new philosophy of quality.
  3. Understand the purpose of inspection; stop depending on inspection.
  4. Stop awarding business based on price alone.
  5. Improve the system constantly.
  6. Institute training.
  7. Teach and institute leadership.
  8. Drive out fear, create trust, and create a climate for innovation.
  9. Optimize the efforts of teams, groups, and staff areas.
  10. Eliminate exhortations and targets for the work force; provide methods of achievement.
  11. Eliminate numerical quotas for the work force.
  12. Remove barriers that rob people of pride for workmanship.
  13. Encourage education and self improvement for everyone.
  14. Take action to accomplish the transformation; make it everyone's job.

The Seven Deadly Diseases are:

  1. Lack of constancy of purpose to plan products and services.
  2. Emphasis on short-term profits.
  3. Personal review systems for managers and management by objectives.
  4. Job hopping by managers.
  5. Using only visible data in decision making.
  6. Excessive medial costs.
  7. Excessive costs of liability driven up by lawyers that work on contingency.

The Deming Cycle, also known as the Deming Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) Cycle, was originally invented by Shewhart and popularized by Deming. This approach is a cyclic process for planning and testing improvement activities prior to full-scale implementation and/or prior to

formalizing the improvement. When an improvement idea is identified, it is often wise to test it on a small scale prior to full implementation to validate its benefit. Additionally, by introducing a change on a small scale, employees have time to accept it and are more likely to support it. The Deming PDCA Cycle provides opportunities for continuous evaluation and improvement.

The steps in the Deming PDCA or PDSA Cycle as shown in Figure 1 are as follows:

  1. Plan a change or test (P).
  2. Do it (D). Carry out the change or test, preferably on a small scale.
  3. Check it (C). Observe the effects of the change or test. Study it (S).
  4. Act on what was learned (A).
  5. Repeat Step 1, with new knowledge.
  6. Repeat Step 2, and onward. Continuously evaluate and improve.


Dr. Joseph Juran (19042008), whose teaching and consulting career spanned more than seventy years, was also one of the foremost experts on quality in the world. A quality professional from the beginning of his career, Juran joined the inspection branch of the Hawthorne Co. of Western Electric (a Bell manufacturing company) in 1924, after completing his B.S. in Electrical Engineering. In 1934, he became a quality manager. He worked with the U.S. government during World War II and afterward became a quality consultant. In 1952, Dr. Juran was invited to Japan. Dr. Deming helped arrange the meeting that led to this invitation and his many years of work with Japanese companies.

Juran founded the Juran Center for Quality Improvement at the University of Minnesota and the Juran Institute. His third book, Juran's Quality Control Handbook, published in 1951, was translated into Japanese. Other books include Juran on Planning for Quality (1988), Juran on Leadership for Quality (1989), Juran on Quality by Design (1992), Quality Planning and Analysis (1993), and A History of Managing for Quality (1995). Architect of Quality (2004) is his autobiography.


Juran's concepts can be used to establish a traditional quality system, as well as to support Strategic Quality Management. Among other things, Juran's philosophy includes the Quality Trilogy and the Quality Planning Roadmap.

Juran's Quality Trilogy. The Quality Trilogy emphasizes the roles of quality planning, quality control, and quality improvement. Quality planning's purpose is to provide operators with the ability to produce goods and services that can meet customers' needs. In the quality planning stage, an organization must determine who the customers are and what they need, develop the product or service features that meet customers' needs, develop processes that are able to deliver those products and services, and transfer the plans to the operating forces. If quality planning is deficient, then chronic waste occurs.

Quality control is used to prevent things from getting worse. Quality control is the inspection part of the Quality Trilogy where operators compare actual performance with plans and resolve the differences. Chronic waste should be considered an opportunity for quality improvement, the third element of the Trilogy. Quality improvement encompasses improvement of fitness-for-use and error reduction, seeks a new level of performance that is superior to any previous level, and is attained by applying breakthrough thinking.

While up-front quality planning is what organizations should be doing, it is normal for organizations to focus their first quality efforts on quality control. In this aspect of the Quality Trilogy, activities include inspection to determine percent defective (or first pass yield) and deviations from quality standards. Activities can then focus on another part of the trilogy, quality improvement, and make it an integral part of daily work for individuals and teams.

Quality planning must be integrated into every aspect of the organization's work, such as strategic plans; product, service and process designs; operations; and delivery to the customer. The Quality Trilogy is depicted below in Figure 2.

Juran's Quality Planning Road Map. Juran's Quality Planning Road Map can be used by individuals and teams throughout the world as a checklist for understanding customer requirements, establishing measurements based on customer needs, optimizing product design, and developing a process that is capable of meeting customer requirements.

Juran's Quality Trilogy and Quality Roadmap are not enough. An infrastructure for Quality must be developed, and teams must work on improvement projects. The infrastructure should include a quality steering team with top management leading the effort, quality should become an integral part of the strategic plan, and all people should be involved. As people identify areas with improvement potential, they should team together to improve processes and produce quality products and services.

Under the Big Q concept, all people and departments are responsible for quality. In the old era under the concept of little q, the quality department was responsible for quality. Big Q allows workers to regain pride in workmanship by assuming responsibility for quality.

PHILIP CROSBY (19262001)

Philip Bayard Crosby (19262001) first began formulating his early concepts concerning quality after going to work for Crosley Corp. in Richmond, Indiana, as a junior electronic test technician. He joined the American Society for Quality, and then in 1955 went to work for Bendix Corp. as a reliability technician and quality engineer. He investigated defects found by the test people and inspectors. In 1957 he became a senior quality engineer with Martin Marietta Co. in Orlando, Florida. During his eight years with Martin Marietta, Crosby developed his Zero Defects concepts, began writing articles for various journals, and started his speaking career.

In 1965 International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT) hired Crosby as vice president in charge of corporate quality. During his fourteen years with ITT, Crosby worked with many of the world's largest industrial and service companies, implementing his pragmatic management philosophy, and found that it worked.

After a number of years in industry, Crosby established the Crosby Quality College in Winter Park, Florida. He is well known as an author and consultant and has written many articles and books. He is probably best known for his book Quality is Free (1979) and concepts such as his Absolutes of Quality Management, Zero Defects, Quality Management Maturity Grid, 14 Quality Improvement Steps, Cost of Quality, and Cost of Nonconformance.

Other books he has written include Quality Without Tears (1984) and Completeness (1994).

Attention to customer requirements and preventing defects is evident in Crosby's definitions of quality and non-quality as follows: Quality is conformance to requirements; non-quality is nonconformance.

Crosby's Cost of Quality. In his book Quality Is Free, Crosby makes the point that it costs money to achieve quality, but it costs more money when quality is not achieved. When an organization designs and builds an item right the first time (or provides a service without errors), quality is free. It does not cost anything above what would have already been spent. When an organization has to rework or scrap an item because of poor quality, it costs more. Crosby discusses Cost of Quality and Cost of Nonconformance or Cost of Nonquality. The intention is to spend more money on preventing defects and less on inspection and rework.

Crosby's Four Absolutes of Quality. Crosby espoused his basic theories about quality in four Absolutes of Quality Management as follows:

  1. Quality means conformance to requirements, not goodness.
  2. The system for causing quality is prevention, not appraisal.
  3. The performance standard must be zero defects, not that's close enough.
  4. The measurement of quality is the price of nonconformance, not indexes.

To support his Four Absolutes of Quality Management, Crosby developed the Quality Management Maturity Grid and Fourteen Steps of Quality Improvement. Crosby sees the Quality Management Maturity Grid as a first step in moving an organization towards quality management. After a company has located its position on the grid, it implements a quality improvement system based on Crosby's Fourteen Steps of Quality Improvement.

Crosby's Absolutes of Quality Management are further delineated in his Fourteen Steps of Quality Improvement as shown below:

Step 1. Management Commitment

Step 2. Quality Improvement Teams

Step 3. Quality Measurement

Step 4. Cost of Quality Evaluation

Step 5. Quality Awareness

Step 6. Corrective Action

Step 7. Zero-Defects Planning

Step 8. Supervisory Training

Step 9. Zero Defects

Step 10. Goal Setting

Step 11. Error Cause Removal

Step 12. Recognition

Step 13. Quality Councils

Step 14. Do It All Over Again


One of the world's leading experts on improving the manufacturing process, Shigeo Shingo (19191990) created, with Taiichi Ohno, many of the features of just-intime (JIT) manufacturing methods, systems, and processes, which constitute the Toyota Production System. He has written many books including A Study of the Toyota Production System From an Industrial Engineering Viewpoint (1989), Revolution in Manufacturing: The SMED (Single Minute Exchange of Die) System (1985), and Zero Quality Control: Source Inspection and the Poka Yoke System (1986).

Shingo's greatness seems to be based on his ability to understand exactly why products are manufactured the way they are, and then transform that understanding into a workable system for low-cost, high quality production. Established in 1988, the Shingo Prize is the premier manufacturing award in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. In partnership with the National Association of Manufacturers, Utah State University administers the Shingo Prize for Excellence in Manufacturing, which promotes world class manufacturing and recognizes companies that excel in productivity and process improvement, quality enhancement, and customer satisfaction.

Rather than focusing on theory, Shingo focused on practical concepts that made an immediate difference. Specific concepts attributed to Shingo are:

  • Poka Yoke requires stopping processes as soon as a defect occurs, identifying the source of the defect, and preventing it from happening again.
  • Mistake Proofing is a component of Poka Yoke. Literally, this means making it impossible to make mistakes (i.e., preventing errors at the source).
  • SMED (Single Minute Exchange of Die) is a system for quick changeovers between products. The intent is to simplify materials, machinery, processes and skills in order to dramatically reduce changeover times from hours to minutes. As a result products could be produced in small batches or even single units with minimal disruption.
  • Just-in-Time (JIT) Production is about supplying customers with what they want when they want it. The aim of JIT is to minimize inventories by producing only what is required when it is required. Orders are pulled through the system when triggered by customer orders, not pushed through the system in order to achieve economies of scale with the production of larger batches.


Dr. Genichi Taguchi (b. 1924) is a Japanese engineer and statistician who defined what product specification means and how this can be translated into cost-effective production. He worked in the Japanese Ministry of Public Health and Welfare, Institute of Statistical Mathematics, Ministry of Education. He also worked with the Electrical Communications Laboratory of the Nippon Telephone and Telegraph Co. to increase the productivity of the R&D activities.

In the mid-1950s Taguchi was Indian Statistical Institute visiting professor, where he met Walter Shewhart. He was a visiting research associate at Princeton University in 1962, the same year he received his Ph.D. from Kyushu University. He was a professor at Tokyo's Aoyama Gakuin University and Director of the Japanese Academy of Quality.

Taguchi was awarded the Deming Application prize (1960), the Deming awards for literature on quality (1951, 1953, and 1984), and the Willard F. Rockwell Medal by the International Technologies Institute (1986).

Taguchi's contributions are in robust design in the area of product development. The Taguchi Loss Function, the Taguchi Method (Design of Experiments), and other methodologies have made major contributions in the reduction of variation and greatly improved engineering quality and productivity. By consciously considering the noise factors (environmental variation during the product's usage, manufacturing variation, and component deterioration) and the cost of failure in the field, Taguchi methodologies help ensure customer satisfaction.

Robust Design focuses on improving the fundamental function of the product or process, thus facilitating flexible designs and concurrent engineering. Taguchi product development includes three stages: (1) system design (the non-statistical stage for engineering, marketing, customer, and other knowledge); (2) parameter stage (determining how the product should perform against defined parameters; and (3) tolerance design (finding the balance between manufacturing cost and loss).


Dr. Kaoru Ishikawa (19151989) was a professor of engineering at the University of Tokyo and a student of Dr. W.EdwardsDeming.Ishikawa was active in the quality movement in Japan, and was a member of the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers. He was awarded the Deming Prize, the Nihon Keizai Press Prize, and the Industrial Standardization Prize for his writings on quality control, and the Grant Award from the American Society for Quality Control for his educational program on quality control.

Ishikawa's book, Guide to Quality Control (1982), is considered a classic because of its in-depth explanations of quality tools and related statistics. The tool for which he is best known is the cause and effect diagram. Ishikawa is considered the Father of the Quality Circle Movement. Letters of praise from representatives of companies for which he was a consultant were published in his book What Is Total Quality Control? (1985). Those companies include IBM, Ford, Bridgestone, Komatsu Manufacturing, and Cummins Engine Co.

Ishikawa believed that quality improvement initiatives must be organization-wide in order to be successful and sustainable over the long term. He promoted the use of Quality Circles to: (1) support improvement; (2) respect human relations in the workplace; (3) increase job satisfaction; and (4) more fully recognize employee capabilities and utilize their ideas. Quality Circles are effective when management understands statistical techniques and acts on recommendations from members of the Quality Circles.


Armand Feigenbaum (b. 1922) was s till a doctoral student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology when he completed Quality Control: Principles, Practice, and Administration (1951), a work that led to the creation of Total Quality Management (TQM), one of the most influential management doctrines today. A revised and updated version of this classic work was issued in 1991 as Total Quality Control, at a time when the influence of TQM was spreading rapidly. He continues to be an influential management consultant.

Dr. H. James Harrington is an author and consultant in the area of process improvement. He has been a prolific author and major voice in the development of quality management practices. His books include The Improvement Process, Business Process Improvement, Total Improvement Management, ISO 9000 and Beyond, Area Activity Analysis, The Creativity Toolkit, Statistical Analysis Simplified, The Quality/Profit Connection, and High Performance Benchmarking.

SEE ALSO Quality and Total Quality Management


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