2.3 Crosby's Message

Crosby's name is best known in relations to the concepts of Do It Right First time and Zero Defects. He considers traditional quality control, acceptable quality limits and waivers of sub-standard products to represent failure rather than assurance of success. Crosby therefore defines quality as conformance to the requirements which the company itself has established for its products based directly on its customers' needs. He believes that since most companies have organisations and systems that allow deviation from what is really required, manufacturing companies spend around 20% of their revenues doing things wrong and doing them over again. According to Crosby this can be 35% of operating expenses for service companies.

He does not believe that workers should take prime responsibility for poor quality; the reality, he says, is that you have to get management straight. In the Crosby scheme of things, management sets the tone on quality and workers follow their example; whilst employees are involved in operational difficulties and draw them to management's attention, the initiative comes from the top. Zero defects means that the company's objective is 'doing things right first time'. This will not prevent people from making mistakes, but will encourage everyone to improve continuously.

In the Crosby approach the Quality Improvement message is spread by creating a core of quality specialists within the company. There is strong emphasis on the top-down approach, since he believes that senior management is entirely responsible for quality.

The ultimate goal is to train all the staff and give them the tools for quality improvement, to apply the basic precept of Prevention Management in every area. This is aided by viewing all work as a process or series of actions conducted to produce a desired result. A process model can be used to ensure that clear requirements have been defined and understood by both the supplier and the customer. He also views quality improvement as an ongoing process since the work 'programme' implies a temporary situation. Crosby's Quality Improvement Process is based upon the

Four Absolutes of Quality Management

  1. Quality is defined as conformance to requirements, not as 'goodness' or 'elegance'.
  2. The system for causing quality is prevention, not appraisal.
  3. The performance standard must be Zero Defects, not "that's close enough".
  4. The measurement of quality is the Price of Nonconformance, not indices.
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