Quality Trilogy 2.0

Revising Juran’s improvement cycle

by Yongpeng Dou

Joseph M. Juran’s paper “The Quality Trilogy”1 has strongly contributed to the mission of quality management and is well recognized in the world. More than three decades after its inception, the Quality Trilogy 2.0 is proposed as Figure 1. The three steps of the Quality Trilogy 2.0 are:

  1. Quality planning. A set of logical activities necessary and appropriate to establish operating conditions that meet established goals.
  2. Quality control. Appropriate activities taken proactively to maintain the planned capability.
  3. Quality recovery. Any necessary activities taken reactively to recover the capability after it deviated.

Figure 1

There are two significant differences between Juran’s original trilogy (see Online Figure 1) and the Quality Trilogy 2.0:

Online Figure 1

  1. Quality improvement was replaced with quality recovery.
  2. According to Juran’s original trilogy, quality improvement is a managerial process that reduces the inherent chronic waste, which is caused by deficiencies, that came out of the original quality planning.

    In other words, deficiencies are the precondition and trigger for quality improvement, which becomes unnecessary if the deficiencies are prevented or eliminated during quality planning. Every organization should work to prevent deficiencies because there is no excuse for a deficiency that could have been eliminated during quality improvement or quality planning if proper methods were applied sufficiently and resources used appropriately.

    Even if a deficiency remains and triggers quality improvements, it should be deemed a rehabilitative measure of quality planning rather than a reasonable independent quality trilogy step that suggests deficiencies are rational.

    In step two, the organization must run the process at optimal effectiveness by controlling process variations to achieve planned capability to meet the established goals. Step three entails taking countermeasures to pull the process back to the planned capability when it deviates, which is superimposed on the quality control process. Until another round of the quality trilogy is triggered, the established goals are updated, for example, and the organization’s only task is to maintain the planned capability.

  3. The curve presents in quality, not cost of poor quality.
  4. The curve of Juran’s trilogy presents in cost of poor quality. This shape may be attractive to organizations that desire a lower cost. It implies, however, that quality improvement is done to reduce costs, so some organizations might give quality a lower priority than cost savings if they don’t understand the trilogy correctly. In the worst case, quality always will be compromised to save money.

    The Quality Trilogy 2.0 curves in quality rather than other areas, and allows users to study what the relationship is between quality and cost (see Online Figure 2), and manage both accordingly.

    Online Figure 2

    Organizations don’t have to fight against chronic waste caused by inherent deficiencies or spend managerial costs to manage a changing process. The Quality Trilogy 2.0 presents a new ideal scenario for quality management to achieve its quality goals economically: Dispose of deficiencies during quality planning and ensure quality control goals are clear throughout the operation phase.


  1. Joseph M. Juran, “The Quality Trilogy,” paper presented at the ASQC 40th Annual Quality Congress, Anaheim, CA, May 20, 1986.

Yongpeng Dou is a quality manager at an automotive parts company in Shengyang, China. He received a bachelor’s degree in material chemistry from Jilin University in Changchun, China.

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