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Phil's Journal
Philip Crosby

Changing the Culture

Management's product is the entire organization. Managers' charge is creating a useful, reliable organization. They turn to quality for help in the "reliable" part of this equation.

 I realized early in my career that the conventional quality wisdom was no help in making this happen. Conventional wisdom clung to the following four mantras:

 The most economically effective way to create quality is to use statistics as a management tool. The goal was three sigma (standard deviation), because everyone knows that getting everything right the first time would be prohibitively expensive.

* Quality means goodness.

* Management isn't really interested.

* A documentation system is essential.


 I cast all this aside in favor developing and organizational culture with a zero defects policy, of using education to produce a common language on the subject that orients them to prevention, of getting requirements clear so that all employees understand the content of their jobs, and of measuring quality by the price of nonconformance.

 Management loves this way of doing things because it dramatically reduces costs by getting work done right the first time. Also, it makes the company easier to manage. And for this I have been rewarded handsomely for years.

 I have spent most of the last 50 years trying to undo the conventional wisdom that has existed this long, but to little avail. It still exists today in the form of ISO 9000, Six Sigma and many other packages aimed at getting others to do the work. The fact that these do little to affect the organizational culture doesn't seem to bother many people. One of the most common causes of illness and death is lung cancer, which comes almost exclusively from smoking cigarettes. Everybody knows this, yet many continue to begin and continue smoking. See? It takes more than knowledge to change people.


About the author

 Philip B. Crosby, a popular speaker and the founder of Philip Crosby Associates--now PCA II--is also the author of several books, including Quality and Me: Lessons from an Evolving Life (Jossey-Bass, 1999). To order a number of products, visit his Web site at www.philipcrosby.com  or call (800) 223-3932. .

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