A professional approach to problem solving
Dorian Shainin, who was named an Honorary member in 1996, worked more than 60 years to improve the professional approach to industrial problem solving. He is best known for the "Shainin techniques," practical tools he developed to help manufacturers solve problems, including problems that had been considered unsolvable.
Through his work with more than 900 organizations, Shainin developed a discipline called statistical engineering. He specialized in creating strategies to enable engineers to "talk to the parts" and solve "unsolvable" problems. The discipline has been used successfully for product development, quality improvement, analytical problem solving, manufacturing cost reduction, product reliability, product liability prevention, and research and development.
After earning a degree in aeronautical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1936, Shainin joined United Aircraft Corp. (now United Technologies Corp.) as an engineer and was later in charge of quality control at a large division of the company. Sixteen years later, he joined Rath and Strong Management Consultants.
Shainin retired from Rath and Strong as a senior vice president, and in 1975 established his own consulting practice, Shainin Consultants, Inc. His sons Peter and Richard later joined him in his business.
From 1950 through 1983, Shainin was on the faculty of the University of Connecticut, where he originated and conducted the continuing education program for people in industry. At one of his seminars, the medical directors of two Connecticut hospitals convinced him to work on some of their critical management problems. As a result, The Newington Children's Hospital (now part of the Connecticut Children's Medical Center) appointed him statistical consultant to the medical staff from 1957 to 1994. Thus, he had the opportunity to adapt several of his techniques to the problems of the etiology of infirmities, particularly disabled children.
In the early 1960s, Shainin served Grumman Aerospace as a reliability consultant for the lunar module of NASA's Apollo project. The lunar module prototype components and systems had been empirically tested using the Shainin multiple environment overstress probe testing system to be statistically sure that even the weakest failure mode had a statistical margin of safety. NASA initially awarded that contract to Grumman because no other aerospace competitive proposal demonstrated that safety ability.
Shainin wrote more than 100 articles and was the author or co-author of several books, including Managing Manpower in the Industrial Environment; Tool Engineers Handbook; Quality Control Handbook; New Decision-Making Tools for Managers; Quality Control for Plastics Engineers; Manufacturing, Planning, and Estimating Handbook; and Statistics In Action.
Service to ASQ
Shainin’s service to the quality profession began early in his career. He was involved with ASQ from its beginning, was named a Fellow in 1949, and attended every Annual Quality Congress through 1996. He served ASQ as executive secretary from 1953 to 1954, and as vice president from 1953 to 1956 and again from 1974 to 1976. He received the Brumbaugh Award in 1951 for his paper on his first improvement over classical methods, "The Lot Plot Plan." He was awarded the Edwards Medal in 1969 and Grant Award in 1981. He received the Shewhart Medal in 1989. Shainin was a member of the European Organization for Quality Control and the International Academy of Quality.
Shainin's Honorary member citation reads, in part, "To a true quality paradigm pioneer, who created a process of down-to earth problem-solving strategies that have improved product and service quality and reliability. His contributions to the quality profession over 60 years have had a lasting influence, both in the United States and around the world, on the manufacturing, defense, automotive, service, healthcare, and aerospace industries."
Shainin, who died in 2000, had a significant impact in the quality and reliability disciplines, and earned the recognition and esteem of other professional organizations and the many individuals he influenced through his engaging, witty, and thought-provoking style. On learning he was named an Honorary member, Shainin said, "Over these 50 years, I have believed deeply in ASQ, and it has been a great pleasure to watch it grow from the small organization at 50 Church Street, New York-whose single salaried employee, Julian Hertz, it was my duty to pay as executive secretary-to the more than 130,000 members now."