Laying the foundations of modern quality control
The name Armand V. Feigenbaum and the term "total quality control" are virtually synonymous. In 1986, when the ASQ board of directors elected Feigenbaum an Honorary member, it acknowledged a career of more than 35 years in the quality field. During that career, the precepts of total quality control were carefully laid out and tirelessly promulgated in the United States and around the world.
Feigenbaum's ideas are contained in his now famous book Total Quality Control, first published in 1951 under the title Quality Control: Principles, Practice, and Administration, and based on his earlier articles and program installations in the field. The book has been translated into more than a score of languages, including Japanese, Chinese, French, and Spanish.
Feigenbaum is president and CEO of General Systems Co. in Pittsfield, MA, an engineering firm that designs and installs operational systems for corporations in the United States, Europe, the Far East, and Latin America. He has spent a great deal of time abroad in connection with this work. His globetrotting reflects his long-standing international concerns; over the years he has been a leading voice of the international view in the field of quality control and quality management. "The belief that quality travels under an exclusive foreign passport is a myth," Feigenbaum said.
Feigenbaum was the founding chairman of the board of the International Academy for Quality, which brought together leaders of the European Organization for Quality, the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers, and ASQ. He was the first recipient of ASQ's Lancaster Award, which was established to recognize exceptional leadership on the international scene in promoting quality. His citation for the award recognizes "his outstanding contributions toward international cooperation in quality control through his development and sharing of knowledge and experience around the world, and for his leadership in the International Academy for Quality."
Prior to assuming his responsibilities at General Systems Co., Feigenbaum was the manager of worldwide manufacturing operations and quality control for the General Electric Co.
Feigenbaum is recognized as an innovator in the area of quality cost management. His was the first text to characterize quality costs as the costs of prevention, appraisal, and internal and external failure.
Feigenbaum's involvement in ASQ was capped by two consecutive terms as president (1961-1963) following service from 1958 to 1961 as a vice president. He has always been concerned with the establishment of quality control as a professional discipline within the business and engineering worlds, and during these years he was an outspoken proponent of this cause. As vice president of professional development in 1959, he was chair of a special ASQ committee that laid the foundation for ongoing work in professional development. He played an active role in raising the level of importance of quality control, and was instrumental in defining ASQ's important audiences: industrial management, government, academicians, and the consumer.
In recognition of "his origination and implementation of basic foundations for modern quality control," Feigenbaum was awarded ASQ's Edwards Medal for 1965. He also received the National Security Industrial Association Award of Merit for leadership in defense of the nation. He has been a member of the Advisory Group of the U.S. Army, general chairman of a system-wide evaluation of quality assurance activities of the Army Materiel Command, and a consultant with the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. He was awarded the Founders Medal by Union College, where he received his undergraduate degree.
Feigenbaum is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a life member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and a life member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He received a doctorate and a master of science degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Feigenbaum's diverse achievements and many awards testify to his profound influence on management strategy in the competition for world markets, and to the timeless good sense of total quality control.