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Spotlights on for Quality Guru, Philip Crosby

It has been three decades since Philip Crosby’s ground breaking book, Quality is Free: The Art of Making Quality Certain has been published. But despite this, Crosby’s book, published in 1979, still remains as one of the most influential text in quality management.


A businessman, author, and philosopher, Philip Crosby is a household name to the quality management industry. A veteran during the World War II and the Korean War, Crosby first shifted into the quality industry in 1952 as a test technician. Using his wits and talent, Crosby continued to move up to the ladder and later on founded the Philip Crosby Associates, a management consulting company. He built the company at the same year when his book, Quality is Free was published.

On this book, Crosby redefined the word “quality.” For many, quality equates giving good service or directly providing the needs of customers. But for Crosby, quality simply means “…an ability for an organization to conform to requirements.” For Crosby, not knowing what quality means (following the requirements) can cost businesses and organizations money. He called these money costing factors “Cost of Quality.” An example of a cost of quality is when something is not properly done on the first try.


Crosby insisted that quality is measurable and attainable. He used the ITT Corporation to set an example on how quality can appear in a corporate set up. Crosby provided a four step plan in order for the company giant to get what it was looking for:

  1. Create a quality management program.
  2. To decrease the number of non-conformance
  3. Reduce cost of quality
  4. To make ITT the definition of quality

Crosby also enumerated the five erroneous misconceptions about quality that organizations suffer from. Making these assumptions can hinder the progress of an organization.

  1. Quality is synonymous to luxury and to goodness, when in fact it’s so much more than that.
  2. Quality is intangible therefore there’s no way by which we can measure it.
  3. That there’s an “economics of quality.”
  4. Quality problems come from the laborers.
  5. Quality comes from the quality department.


In order for organizations to move past these misconceptions, Crosby created the Quality Management Maturity Grid (QMMG). The QMMG has five columns that represent the level of maturity of organizations. Meanwhile, the rows represent the measurement of each category. The QMMG can help organizations track down on where they stand on their company-wide quality planning.

In the end, Crosby discussed the ten qualities that a management program needs in order to become effective:

  1. Listening
  2. Cooperating
  3. Helping
  4. Transmitting
  5. Creating
  6. Implementing
  7. Learning
  8. Leading
  9. Following
  10. Pretending

Since quality is now free, organizations and managements can now easily create their own methods that can help them reach the goal that they want. Knowing that quality means conforming to requirement and not luxury, organizations can now aim to reach a zero defects. Through the use of data, awareness, and proper planning, organizations can have a happier work environment and better results.