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BOOK THAT STARTED THE QUALITY REVOLUTION

Philip Crosby Associates (PCA) celebrated the 25th anniversary of the publication of Philip B. Crosby's classic book, Quality Is Free in January of 2005.

At a time when fellow gurus Deming, Juran, and Ishikawa were focused on the highly technical aspects of quality measurement and control, Crosby's Quality Is Free hit the bookstores with a simple but powerful message:

  • Quality is much too important to be left to the quality control department;
  • Senior management must commit to quality if things are to change; and
  • Doing things right the first time adds absolutely nothing to the cost of a product or service.

Crosby showed managers everywhere that doing things wrong made costs skyrocket. More importantly, he showed that management was the root cause of these problems.

The book set off a revolution in corporate thinking because it shifted the responsibility for the quality of goods and services from the quality control department to the corporate boardroom, attacked the entrenched notions of 'good enough' and Acceptable Quality Levels (AQL), and introduced Zero Defects as the only acceptable performance standard, setting the stage for the Six Sigma movement that followed in later years.

Before Crosby's best-selling book, it was commonly assumed that quality was achieved through inspection. Inspectors were necessary to sort the good from the bad, with ever more defect-free shipments requiring ever more examiners. With this mindset, creating quality goods and services required increased expenditures. Mr. Crosby broke that paradigm by showing the road to perfect goods and services was through prevention, not inspection. The defect that is never created cannot be missed. Identifying and eliminating the causes of problems reduces rework, warranty costs, and inspection. Following Mr. Crosby's approach, creating quality goods and services did not cost money, it saved money. In essence, quality is free for enlightened organizations.

Mr. Crosby was a prime mover in the quality business, first as head of quality for the global behemoth ITT and then as one of the most highly respected and sought-after quality management consultants and educators. With Quality Is Free he claimed his place among the best-selling authors in the field, following that success with Quality Without Tears, Completeness, The Art of Getting Your Own Sweet Way, Running Things, and The Eternally Successful Organization - books that extended the basic philosophy outlined in his groundbreaking work.