As the third piece in our “history of quality” series, let’s take a brief look at the quality gurus—the men who laid the foundation for the quality industry and defined its key concepts.

Walter Shewhart

Let’s start with Walter Shewhart—the man credited as the father of statistical quality control (SQC). In the mid-1920’s, Shewhart began to focus on controlling processes, making quality relevant not only for finished products, but also for the processes that create them. Shewhart recognized that industrial processes yield data that can be analyzed using statistical terminology to learn if a process is stable or is being affected by special causes that need to be corrected. In doing so, Shewhart laid the foundation for control charts.

He is also credited with creating the plan-do-check-act (PDCA) cycle.

Shewhart went on to mentor W. Edwards Deming, who was the first to apply SQC principles to non-manufacturing problems. Deming emphasized quality management principles that teach process improvement as the path to increased quality. He stressed the importance of profound knowledge and understanding process verification through statistical analysis. Deming is best known for his 14 points for leadership transformation, seven deadly sins of management, plan-do-study-act cycle, and the theory that 85 percent or more of quality problems result from inadequate processes—rather than inadequate employees.

Joseph M. Juran

Quality guru Joseph M. Juran was also instrumental in changing the way that organizations thought about quality through his emphasis on the role of management and the human side of quality. According to his “Juran trilogy,” quality planning is akin to financial planning and budgeting, quality control is akin to financial control, and quality improvement is akin to cost reduction. These three quality management processes provide a roadmap for achieving quality objectives. Juran also authored The Quality Handbook and is credited with applying the Pareto principle to quality management.

Alfred Pareto

The 19th century economist Alfred Pareto coined the “Pareto principle,” or the 80/20 rule, which states that 80 percent of the effects come from 20 percent of the potential causes.

Considered the premier quality pioneer in Japan, Kaoru Ishikawa was largely responsible for translating Deming’s and Juran’s early lessons into an approach geared toward the Japanese. As a quality guru, Ishikawa is best known for creating the fishbone diagram (also known as the cause-and-effect diagram) and developing the concept of companywide quality control.

Philip B. Crosby

Entering the quality field in the early 1950s, quality guru Philip B. Crosby stressed the importance of “doing it right the first time.” According to Crosby, quality is conformance to keeping the promises made when an order is taken or a commitment is made, meeting specifications, and producing a product or service that is free from defects. He also authored Quality is Free, popularized the cost of quality model, and outlined a 14-step approach to quality improvement designed to guide the quality implementation process.

Taichi Ohno

Another noteworthy Japanese quality guru was Taichi Ohno. He was instrumental in developing and popularizing the way an organization identifies waste through his “7 Wastes” concept. Ohno is considered to be the father of the Toyota Production system, which went on to be known as lean manufacturing in the United States.

Armand V Feigenbaum

Also of importance, Armand. V Feigenbaum was credited with developing the concept of “total quality control” during the 1940s. Feigenbaum placed major emphasis on the need for total quality control to achieve productivity, market penetration, and competitive advantage. His total quality control concept later became known as total quality management. This quality philosophy emphasises the need for everyone in an organization to remain focused on serving internal and external customers.

Interested in learning more about quality? Take our Quality 101 course, which explores the history and evolution of quality, quality tools, the quality gurus, how to work with teams, assess customer-supplier relationships, and much more.