Six Sigma
Last Word


Phil's Journal
Philip Crosby


The Next Next Big Thing

I was interested in Scott M. Paton's editorial in the June edition of Quality Digest. He commented on how programs come and go, and specifically, the subject of Six Sigma's mortality.

 It made me think of my book Quality Without Tears: The Art of Hassle-Free Management (New American Library Trade, 1984), in which I listed the reasons that quality trends like Six Sigma fail even though they often have many useful components:

1. The effort is called a program rather than a process.

2. Management and most quality professionals continually strive to establish the proper procedures and rules to produce quality. They are easily taken in by new packaging. Six Sigma, for instance, is, in reality, old-fashioned quality control: Measure the process, identify the problems, apply corrective action and learn to live with acceptable quality levels.

3. All effort is aimed at the lower levels of the organization. You won't find a well-thumbed copy of the ISO 9000 procedures in management offices. Black Belts are not found in executive dining rooms. The current concentration on cost reduction by problem identification and correction eliminates concentration on creating a prevention-centered culture.

4. Quality professionals are cynical. When I laid out the concept of Zero Defects 40 years ago, it was seen as futile and expensive foolishness. It turns out that it was quite pragmatic. If we only go by what we now know without leaving room for honest examination of new ideas, we miss great opportunities.

5. Training material is created by the training function. You won't find a practical definition of quality in these materials, because they are written by people who take most of their information from incorrect books. When we put the Quality College together, it was based on philosophy, not programs. The "Absolutes of Quality Management" are the foundation.

6. Management is impatient for results. One of the reasons management likes the form of quality control programs is that they allow managers to drag a dead bear into their offices every week. There are lots of problems in every company (unless it's prevention-oriented), and management takes these as evidence of improvement. They should measure the price of nonconformance and learn the truth.


 True quality comes from a philosophy built around creating a useful and reliable organization. It does not come from programs for someone else to do. All you will ever need to create that organization is outlined in "Quality Without Tears." You can find tools and educational materials to help you build such a culture can be found on the PCA II Web site.


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. .


Menu Level Above

This Menu LeveL

Menu Level Below

[Contents] [News] [WebLinks] [Columnists]
[Harrington] [Crosby] [Six Sigma] [Godfrey] [Townsend] [Marash] [Last Word]

Copyright 2000 QCI International. All rights reserved.
Quality Digest can be reached by phone at (530) 893-4095. E-mail:
Click Here

Today's Specials