Top 8 Books Every Quality Professional Should Read

What books should be on every quality professional’s reading list? This can be a controversial question—ask ten quality professionals and you may get ten different answers. However, there are certain classics and thought leaders that stand the test of time. ASQ staff compiled a list of the top books on quality tools, concepts, and ideas ever published.

Now, it’s your turn. Which of these books have you read? What additions or suggestions do you have for the list?

1. The Quality Toolbox, Second Edition, by Nancy R. Tague

This is a classic reference and instruction book for new and seasoned quality professionals alike. It includes a variety of methods, tools, and techniques, from the basics to those created by the author. If there’s just one book everyone in quality should read, it’s probably Quality Toolbox.

2. Juran’s Quality Handbook, Sixth Edition, by Joseph M. Juran and Joseph A. De Feo

This is the quality management and engineering guide by one of the best known thinkers in quality.

3. Root Cause Analysis: The Core of Problem Solving and Corrective Action by Duke Okes

The focus of the book is not on statistics but on the logic of finding causes. It describes how to solve problems via the analytical process through figures, diagrams, and tools useful for helping make our thinking visible. The primary focus is on solving repetitive problems.

4. Making Change Work by Brien Palmer

They say the only thing constant is change. This is a solid guide to helping organizations prepare for and implement change.

5. The Essential Deming, edited by Joyce Nilsson Orsini PhD

The title says it all. In this book, Fordham University professor and Deming expert Joyce Orsini presents Deming’s most important management principles. The book is a wealth of articles, papers, lectures, and notes on a wide range of topics, but the focus is on Deming’s main message: quality and operations are all about systems, not individual performance; the system has to be designed so that the worker can perform well.

6. Organizational Culture and Leadership by Edgar H. Schein

This updated edition focuses on the contemporary business environment and demonstrates how leaders must apply principles of culture to achieve organizational goals.

7. Economic Control of Quality of Manufactured Product by Walter A. Shewhart

This classic by quality giant Walter A. Shewhart laid the foundation for the modern quality control discipline, beginning as an attempt to develop a scientific basis for attaining economic control of quality. In his search for better knowledge of economy in manufacturing, Shewhart touches upon all aspects of statistical quality control.

8. Practical Engineering, Process, and Reliability Statistics by Mark Allen Durivage

This book aims to provide quality professionals in any industry a quick and comprehensive guide to using statistics efficiently.

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17 Responses to Top 8 Books Every Quality Professional Should Read

  1. Luis Iturriaga says:

    Well the first to are more like reference books, rather than something you would actually “read”. But definitively are two of the mandatory ones in my bookshelf. For me What is Total Quality Control? from Kaouru Ishikawa is a must also.

  2. I teach the CQA, CQE, CMQ/OE professional exam prep classes as well as many quality and statistics related courses for my employer. My recommended library of books that every Quality Engineer should includes many of the titles listed above, but also:

    Process Quality Control – Schilling 0-87389-655-6
    Quality Audits for Improved Performance – Arter 0-87389-263-1
    Statistical Thinking – Hoerl, Snee 0-534-38158-8
    Statistical Methods for Quality Control – Kume 4-906224-34-2
    Introduction to Statistical Quality Control – Montgomery 0-471-30353-4
    Implementing Six Sigma – Breyfogle 0-471-26572-1
    Acceptance Sampling in Quality Control – Schilling 978-1-58488-952-6
    Fourth Generation Management – Joiner 0-07-032715-7
    Understanding Variation – Wheeler 0-945320-35-3
    Total Quality Control – Feigenbaum 0-07-020354-7
    Quality Planning & Analysis – Juran and Gryna 0-07-039368-0
    Understanding Statistical Process Control – Wheeler 0-945320-13-2
    Quality Function Deployment – Cohen 0-201-63330-2
    Advanced Topics in Statistical Process Control -Wheeler 0-945320-45-0

    and my personal favorite around change management…
    Journey to the Emerald City – Connors and Smith 0-7352-0052-1

  3. Pricha Leelanukrom / CQE, CQA, CRE, Certified Manager-Quality and Organization Excellence says:

    “Juran Managerial Breakthrough”, and “Out of the Crisis” are also the must to read.

  4. P.A.Ipolito says:

    I am still waiting for Book #9- “Surviving and Thriving When Top Management Are Clueless About Quality”

  5. A. Steven McRae says:

    “Today and Tomorrow” by Henry Ford is the basic organizational foundation upon which the Father’s of Quality (Deming, Juran, Wheeler, Freigenbaum, Ishikawa, Harrington, Pyzdek, Crosby) build their theories about quality.

  6. James Shore says:

    I would think there would be more leadership and personal skills training such as “One Minute Manager” and “Getting to Yes”

  7. Beth Robinson says:

    I would add “The Change Agent’s Handbook: A Survival Guide for Quality Improvement Champions” by Hutton. I value it for its clear synthesis of many of the above listed topics and its guidance on getting the ‘people’ side of quality management right. It is a great resource, particularly for those new to quality.

  8. Hmm. Well, there is nothing wrong with classics. Although I try to read (or at least glance through) every newly published QA-related book I can get my paws on, here are a few (not on the list) I find myself picking up often for the stuff I do:
    The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Jeff Cox ISBN 0-88427-178-1;
    Project Management by Harold Kerzner, Ph.D. ISBN 0-442-24879-2;
    Any Schaum’s Outline on Business Statistics;
    At least the Quality Engineer and Quality Manager primers from the Quality Council of Indiana (www dot qualitycouncil dot com): ; and
    Every Memory Jogger on a QA-related topic (www dot goalqpc dot com). In my opinion, the best Memory Jogger is the first published, longest standing, one: “The Memory Jogger: A Pocket Guide of Tools for Continuous Improvement” ISBN 978-1-879364-03-5.
    Also…. you should really sign up to follow/join some QA-related groups on LinkedIn, if you haven’t yet. Not only is that reading material and information free, but there are some great and very timely conversations that take place among fellow QA professionals. And you can pick it up as it happens on your smart phone! ASQ has a full array of global, industry, regional, local and topic-related groups on LinkedIn. Visit my LinkedIn profile to see a bunch of QA-related groups I follow… and you can link to them from there. The reason I’m mentioning social media, is that books take too long to get written and published. For timely information, use social media. For timeless classics, use books.

  9. The best part of a book is not the thought it contains but the thought it suggests.

  10. Hi

    Considering the domain of Quality & Excellence, The list definitely incomplete. There is no mention of any books on Excellence (Mark Blazey), Personal Development (Dr. Stephen Covey…), Service Excellence (Soul of Service by Leonard Berry or Be our Guest – Walt Disney…..),…..Management of Quality by Dr. Hitoshi Kume, Gemba Kaizen by Dr. Masaki Imai, Dr. Kano’s theories….It is not appropriate to make such headlines with ” Top 8 Eight Books…..)

    • Julia McIntosh, ASQ communications says:

      Hello, Sunil. Thank you for your comment. This is not considered by ASQ to be an exhaustive list, but a good start for quality professionals. We will consider doing a follow up on other books for quality professionals.

  11. John Hunter says:

    My top choice is The Leader’s Handbook by Peter Scholtes. As Robert Mitchell mentions, I am also very high on Fourth Generation Management by Brian Joiner. I also have to have a book by Russell Ackoff very high on any list of mine though which of his books to list is a very hard decision to make.

  12. cyril says:

    Professionals in the quality field are touched on the subjects that are choosen from above said books. Many of the professionals go back to books to referesh their learnings. Apart from the above mentioned steriotypic books on Quality, in todays world motivational and inspirational books are required to keep the changing enviornment.

  13. We appreciate the list of books and are delighted that we made the list. I am wondering why the Juran Handbook is the only one that does not link to more informaitn as the others do. is there something we can do to fix this? Thank you, Joe DeFeo, CEO Juran Global.

    • Julia McIntosh, ASQ communications says:

      Apologies, the book got moved around in our online bookstore. The link should go to the book now. Thanks for the heads up!

  14. Frank Knight says:

    Add “The Quality Secret” and “Winning the War on Waste” by William (Bill) Conway, founder of Conway Management Company-the first Fortune 500 CEO to have worked with Dr. Deming on Improvement when at the Nashua Corporation, some methodology of which was included in the NBC Whitepaper Documentary “If Japan can, why can’t we” which aired in 1980.

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