My 1st Friday Favorite Guru Series: Philip B. Crosby

We begin the First Friday of the month, December 2014, with another of my Favorite Gurus, another from the world of TQM – the Total Quality Management movement of the late 1970s/early 1980s…

Philip B. Crosby

June 18, 1926 – August 18, 2001

I did not know Philip Crosby, but I learned from his writings, articles and books – and I used some of his writings and materials in developing quality training back in 1981 and 1982 for my internal Manufacturing, Materials and Purchasing clients’ key people – at MTEC – Motorola’s Training & Education Center, specifically this 1979 book:


Everyone was reading it – this book – back then – in the early 1980s. It was one of “those.”

And then later I read this 1984 book …



From Wikipedia

Philip Bayard “Phil” Crosby, (June 18, 1926 – August 18, 2001) was a businessman and author who contributed to management theory and quality management practices.

Crosby initiated the Zero Defects program at the Martin Company. As the quality control manager of the Pershing missile program, Crosby was credited with a 25 percent reduction in the overall rejection rate and a 30 percent reduction in scrap costs.

Crosby was born in Wheeling, West Virginia, in 1926. He served in the Navy during World War II and again during the Korean War. In between, he earned a degree from the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine.

His first job in the field of quality was that of test technician in the quality department at Crosley Corporation in Richmond, Indiana beginning in 1952. He left for a better-paying position as reliability engineer at Bendix Corporation in Mishawaka, Indiana in 1955, working on the RIM-8 Talos missile. He left after less than two years to become senior quality engineer at The Martin Company’s new Orlando, Florida organization to develop the Pershing missile. There he developed the Zero Defects concept. He eventually rose to become department head before leaving for ITT Corporation in 1965 to become director of quality.

In 1979, Crosby started the management consulting company Philip Crosby Associates, Inc. This consulting group provided educational courses in quality management both at their headquarters in Winter Park, Florida, and at eight foreign locations. Also in 1979, Crosby published his first business book, Quality Is Free. This book would become popular at the time because of the crisis in North American quality. During the late 1970s and into the 1980s, North American manufacturers were losing market share to Japanese products largely due to the superior quality of the Japanese goods.

Crosby’s response to the quality crisis was the principle of “doing it right the first time” (DIRFT). He also included four major principles:

  • The definition of quality is conformance to requirements (requirements meaning both the product and the customer’s requirements)
  • The system of quality is prevention
  • The performance standard is zero defects (relative to requirements)
  • The measurement of quality is the price of nonconformance

His belief was that an organization that established a quality program will see savings returns that more than pay off the cost of the quality program: “quality is free“.

My Lessons From Philip

What I learned from my readings were many positive concepts and techniques for establishing the “worth” of improvement – the value of the Rs (Returns) via the concept of

  • CoQ – Cost of Quality
  • CoC  – Cost of Conformance (to a standard)
  • CoNC – Cost of Non-Conformance (to a standard)

These are very important concepts – about the value – of improvement – IMO. The CoC is the I in ROI for me; and the CoNC is the R – or the Rs.

Share Your Stories

Philip Crosby was another huge contributor to my development back in the early 1980s. His work lives on at the Philip Crosby Associates organization and web site.

If the work of Philip B. Crosby was a valuable influence and/or resource for you – please share your stories about that in the comments section below.

Or simply share a URL there that is relevant.

And – thank you – for sharing!

The My First Friday Favorite Guru Series

We each have many influencers, mentors, both active and passive, knowingly and unknowingly in their respective roles in our development.

This series is my attempt to acknowledge all of them… one by one… in no particular order… as I attempt to consciously reflect on what I have have learned and whom I have learned it from, regarding all things “Performance Improvement” – my first focus.

I have a long list.

Lucky me.

Next month – Frank Wydra.

Links to All of the Past Posts in the MFFF Guru Series

Here is a page with links to all of the Past Posts from this series, listed below – here.

  • Philip B. Crosby – December 2014
  • Donald L. Dewar – November 2014
  • Joseph M. Juran – October 2014
  • W. Edwards Deming – September 2014
  • Bonnie B. Small – August 2014
  • Walter A. Shewhart – July 2014
  • Carl Binder – June 2014
  • Ruth Clark – May 2014
  • Rob Foshay – April 2014
  • John Carlisle – March 2014
  • Miki Lane – February 2014
  • Harold Stolovitch – January 2014
  • Bill Wiggenhorn – December 2013
  • Will Thalheimer – November 2013
  • Roger Kaufman – October 2013
  • Roger Addison – September 2013
  • Ray Svenson – August 2013
  • Dick (Richard E.) Clark – July 2013
  • Allison Rossett – June 2013
  • Carol Panza – May 2013
  • Jane Bozarth – April 2013
  • Judy Hale – March 2013
  • Margo Murray – February 2013
  • Neil Rackham – January 2013
  • Robert (Bob) F. Mager – December 2012
  • Joe H. Harless – November 2012
  • Thomas F. Gilbert – October 2012
  • Sivasailam Thiagarajan (Thiagi) – September 2012
  • Geary A. Rummler – August 2012
  • Dale Brethower – July 2012

Here is a page with links to all of the above Past Posts in My First Friday Favorite Guru Series – here.

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7 comments on “My 1st Friday Favorite Guru Series: Philip B. Crosby

  1. Pingback: T&D: Reflections on 40 Years in the Biz | EPPIC - Pursuing Performance

  2. Dear Sir/Madame
    I am Kheng Chanbormei, a quality assurance officer. I am deeply interested in these book. So I wonder would you mind sharing me the pdf of these books. Sincere thank you!
    Have a nice day!
    Kheng Chanbormei


  3. Pingback: L&D/PI: Thankful for My Many Mentors | EPPIC - Pursuing Performance

  4. Pingback: Review: The My First Friday Favorite Guru Series | EPPIC - Pursuing Performance

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