Gambling on Quality

Next month the memoirs of Joseph M. Juran will be published, just two months before he celebrates his 99th birthday. Reaching that age would be an achievement itself; when you look at all Juran has accomplished, especially in the field of quality, you realize just what a milestone we'll be witnessing.

This issue of QP features the second exclusive excerpt (p. 36) from the book, aptly named Architect of Quality. Both the first excerpt, published in March ("Inspection Fallability," p. 54), and this one relate experiences from early in Juran's career, back in the 1920s. Even then, he was laying the foundation for his significant contributions to the quality sciences.

What's special about this month's excerpt, though, is how it reveals the human side of Juran. Who knew he loved to gamble? And that he had the nerve (backed by his profound knowledge of variation) to try and beat the system at the house of Capone?

This glimpse back of someone who helped write the history of quality says something to me about its future: No matter which type of system, tool or methodology you're using, it really comes down to the people involved who make a quality initiative effective.

I make this statement in confirmation of several letters sent in response to July's collection of articles on quality systems and methodologies (see "QP Mailbag," p. 8). Whether these readers were writing to voice agreement with one author's choice of systems or criticism of another's arguments, many made the point that implementation is always the key, and you can't have a successful implementation without people. You have to involve the right ones, starting with top managers, who must provide leadership, training and support for everyone else over the long haul.

Ken Case, ASQ's president, echoed these thoughts during a recent visit to headquarters. "Nothing happens except through people," he said. "ASQ has to look at everything, including service opportunities, feelings and aspirations--if we don't, we will fail."

Case also shared his equation for quality's future: Q = EVP, meaning quality:

  • Is an enabler, allowing every other initiative--for example, lean or cycle time management--to happen.
  • Increases the value of everything it touches.
  • Aids productivity, ensuring the establishment of good processes and getting it right the first time.

Add a second "p" for people, and quality really isn't a gamble after all.

Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

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