Kudos to the quality gurus

What do the quality gurus of the 80s think when they read the modern literature on lean & co? Have we moved beyond their original ideas? Or do we just say the same things using fancy, new words? While preparing a paper for the TQM Journal, I recently re-discovered the wisdom of the 80s. And what a wisdom! This is far too important knowledge to discard as blasts from the past; the ideas of Juran, Taguchi, Garvin, Crosby, Shingo, Deming, Feigenbaum and Ishikawa remain fundamental for competitiveness. In this post, I briefly explain the key contributions of each of the top-eight quality gurus. Kudos to the gurus!

Quality gurus books

Of course… creating a list of the most celebrated quality gurus is similar to suggesting a list of the best novels; it’s a subject to taste and never fair. However, few will reject the contribution of the eight I include. If you do—or will suggest someone else—please leave your comment you-know-where.

Top-eight quality gurus and their key contribution to quality management

  1. Dr. W. Edwards Deming: Probably the most known quality gurufor a reason. Developed a complete description and guide to quality management (14 points and 7 deadly diseases). The American management consultant convinced the world about the power of simple tools like the Plan-Do-Check-Act-circle (PDCA) and Statistical Process Control (SPC). According to him 80% of success depends on the management.
  2. Dr. Joseph M. Juran:  Juran’s ‘Trilogy’ is a quality management approach comprised of planning, control and improvement. The American management consultant emphaised the use of pareto analysis and measuring the cost of quality. (See my next post for a discussion of his CWQM concept).
  3. Dr. Genichi Taguchi: The Japanese engineer and statistician is acknowledge for his approach to improve quality and reduce costs known as the Taguchi Methods. He emphasized the importance of design-for-quality. His strengths lie in applying simple and advanced statistical methods to ensure quality.
  4. Armand V. Feigenbaum: The American quality control expert is the man behind the concept of Total Quality Control (TOC). Already in the 50s, Feigenbaum warned about the costly effect of not producing right first time (hidden plant); an idea that all subsequent quality concepts share.
  5. Dr. David Garvin: The Harvard professor is most known for his ‘eight dimensions of quality’ in which he defines quality as more than good or bad products. A core argument is that ‘if quality is to be managed, it must first be understood’.
  6. Philip B. Crosby:  Crosby is maybe the most quoted quality guru. That is not so strange, considering statements like these: ‘quality is conformity to specifications’ and ‘quality is free’ . The American consultant originated normative concepts like ‘the quality management maturity grid’, ‘zero defects‘ and ‘fourteen steps to quality‘.
  7. Shigeo Shingo: His contribution to the Toyota Production System should not be underestimated. Poka Yoke (fail-safe), Just-in-Time and Single-Minute-Exchange-of-Die (SMED) are all attributed to this ingenious Japanese business man. Today, one of the world’s most prestigious business prizes bears his name: the Shingo Prize for excellence in manufacturing.
  8. Dr. Kaoru Ishikawa: A Japanese professor best known for the Ishikawa cause-and-effect diagram (aka fish bone diagram). He also suggested implementation guidelines for Quality Circles and talked warmly for the concept of Company-wide Quality, arguing the quality is not something that happens only in manufacturing.

The thinking of the quality gurus of the 80s is of utter most importance in 2013! Reading these ‘old’ books is a must for any consultants selling both good and bad advises on quality management and lean production. We can read them and easily climb to their shoulders, or ignore them and never reach them to their knees. Kudos to the quality gurus!

Suggested books from the quality gurus

  1. Deming, W. E. (1986) Out of the crisis: quality, productivity and competitive position, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
  2. Taguchi, G. (1986) Introduction to Quality Engineering: Designing Quality into Products and Processes Tokyo, The Organization.
  3. Feigenbaum, A. V. (1983) Total quality control, New York, McGraw-Hill.
  4. Garvin, D. A. (1988) Managing quality : the strategic and competitive edge, New York, Free Press
  5. Crosby, P. (1979) Quality is Free, Mc Graw Hill
  6. Shingō, S. (1986) Zero quality control : source inspection and the poka-yoke system, Cambridge, Mass., Productivity Press.
  7. Ishikawa, K. (1985) What is total quality control? : the Japanese way, Englewood Cliffs, N.J., Prentice-Hall.

6 thoughts on “Kudos to the quality gurus

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