Philip Crosby photo

Philip Crosby: The Fun Uncle of the Quality Revolution

"Do It Right the First Time"

Dr. Deming and Dr. Juran were the great brains of the quality revolution. Where Phil Crosby excelled was in finding a terminology for quality that mere mortals could understand. His books, "Quality Without Tears" and "Quality is Free" were easy to read, so people read them. He popularized the idea of the "cost of poor quality", that is, figuring out how much it really costs to do things badly.

Like Frederick Taylor, Philip Crosby's ideas came from his experience on an assembly line. He focused on zero defects, not unlike the focus of the modern Six Sigma Quality movement. Mr. Crosby was quick to point out, however, that zero defects is not something that originates on the assembly line. To create a manufacturing process that has zero defects management must set the tone and atmosphere for employees to follow. If management does not create a system by which zero defects are clearly the objective then employees are not to blame when things go astray and defects occur. The benefit for companies of such a system is a dramatic decrease in wasted resources and time spent producing goods that consumer's do not want.

Mr. Crosby defined quality as a conformity to certain specifications set forth by management and not some vague concept of "goodness." These specifications are not arbitrary either; they must be set according to customer needs and wants.

Four Absolutes of Quality Management
  1. Quality is defined as conformance to requirements, not as 'goodness' or 'elegance'.
  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 indices.
Philip Crosby was Born in West Virginia in 1926. After serving in WWII and the Korean War he has worked for Crosley, Martin-Marietta and ITT where he was corporate vice president for 14 years. Philip Crosby Associates, Inc., founded in 1979, was his management consulting firm that served served hundreds of companies. Since retiring in 1991 he has founded Career IV, Inc., Philip Crosby Associates II, Inc. and the Quality College. Phil Crosby died in August, 2001, but his legacy will live on in better quality in thousands of organizations.

Here's an encomium from W. Noel Haskins-Hafer, a teacher of quality improvement: 'He was one of the warmest and most focused people I ever had the pleasure to meet and his common-sense approach will be missed by many.'
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