Quality Progress - November 2015 - 48
BY PETER MERRILL
To plan for the future, consider your systems, context and customers
WHEN I LEARNED this edition of QP was
work of Philip B. Crosby. His skill was
in a large gray box together with a small
focusing on the future of quality, I did some
to simplify what had become a complex
red box and a note. The note said: "The
online searches for quotes about "the fu-
discipline. His four absolutes captured the
gray box contains your order and the red
ture." I was surprised by how little I found.
essence of quality:
box contains the 10 faulty microchips you
1. Quality is conformance to requirements.
requested. We are unsure why you wanted
innovators: "The best way to predict the
2. The system for quality is prevention.
these." You can see why I have a problem
future is to create it." This quote has been
3. The standard for quality is zero defects.
with that ISO 9000 definition.
widely attributed to management expert
4. The measure of quality is the price of
There was the quote widely used by
Peter Drucker-but I also found an attribution to Abraham Lincoln. It would
Crosby also succeeded in having people
understand that quality was everybody's
I remember when I taught at the qual-
job, not just the job of the quality depart-
seem there has been little new knowledge
ity college and explained this on the first
ment. Quality management emerged
introduced since his time.
morning to a class of nonbelievers. That
through the work of W. Edwards Deming,
was a long time ago, and today, most of
Joseph M. Juran and Crosby.
There also was a quote attributed to
Confucius: "Study the past if you would
Crosby's absolutes are implicit in our
define the future." Winston Churchill played
with these words and said: "Those who do
not learn from history are doomed to repeat
it." This is, of course, the basis for statistical
analysis and sparks the great debate separating special cause from common cause. I
In the 1990s, systems thinking emerged,
The quality profession must
learn to collaborate with the
sales profession, and this is
love mathematics and its philosophy.
If we look at past trends, we may be able
Or are they? In ISO 9000, the defini-
and I recall seeing writer and futurist Alvin
Toffler's keynote at ASQ's (then ASQC)
Quality Congress when he talked about the
knowledge society and this new concept
of systems thinking.
I purchased James Gleick's book,
to predict future direction. However, com-
tion of quality is not "conformance to
Chaos,5 on chaos theory as I continued
plexity makes that increasingly difficult.
requirements." It used to be "the totality of
to try and understand the attributes of
So predicting the future of quality in this
features and characteristics of a product
systems. I bought Albert-László Barabási's
increasingly complex world won't be easy.
and/or service that bear upon its ability to
book, Linked,6 about network theory to
satisfy stated or implied needs."2 What an
further my understanding. I confess, my
appalling definition, in my opinion.
understanding of systems did not happen
Having talked about the future, let's talk a
In 2000, it was simplified to "the degree
overnight, but I'm glad I took the time to
seek the knowledge.
bit about quality. In my May 2015 column,1
to which a set of inherent characteristics
I gave a brief history of quality and ac-
fulfills requirements."3 The words "of an
knowledged Stephen Hawking, borrowing
object" were added in 2015. And yet,
been helped by work done in environmen-
some of his words.
throughout ISO 9001, the words "confor-
tal management and IT. Understanding sys-
mance to requirements" are still used. In
tems is essential to understanding quality.
Work in quality and ASQ started with
"QC," or quality control, although I shud-
ISO 9000:2015, the definition flies in the
der when I hear the term used today. Being
face of zero defects thinking.
a disciple of the school of prevention, I
There is an apocryphal story about
Today, understanding of systems has
When I teach an ASQ virtual course on
cost of quality, I take the time to explain
what Juran called "the law of 10." Crosby
see QC as representing checking "after the
Texas Instruments in the 1980s ordering
called it the ripple effect, and Gleick called
fact," which is now known to be immature
its first offshore consignment of 1,000
it the butterfly effect. It's the idea that
microchips. It decided to be tough on the
a small error at the drawing board or in
supplier and demanded a 99% acceptable
capturing customer requirements can cost
quality level. The consignment arrived
a company millions if it gets to litigation.
This takes me to one of the tipping
points in the evolution of quality-the
48 QP * www.qualityprogress.com
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Quality Progress - November 2015
Mr Pareto Head
On the Horizon
To Measure is to Know
Measure for Measure
Quality in the First Person
One Good Idea
Back to Basics
Quality Progress - November 2015