Quality (def.) = Conformance to requirements [the customer's] or Standards
ISO Quality Definition = "Quality is fitness for purpose"

Quality Gurus


W. Edwards Deming - statistician who worked at Bell Labs after Second World War and introduced the idea of Statistical Process Control (SPC).

Deming's argument -- Quality problems lie in variability which is of two kinds:

Common variability is direct responsiblity of management.

Deming introduced the use of SPC charts (control charts) to measure variability and to identify its causes. This process involves taking regular measurements at various stages of a process and then interpreting the results to learn and correct the causes of variability.

Deming also developed the PDCA cycle:

The PDCA was novel when it was introduced as it placed responsibility on management for quality.

Deming's ideas were first adopted by Japanese and credited with improving Japanese products so much that they became a world leader. After that, U.S. companies became interested but Deming's ideas less successful there. Deming said it was because of the "seven deadly diseases" which stifled American competitiveness and quality. These became incorporated into Deming's 14 key points:

A number of books by Deming are available (most recent, 1986) but he doesn't have a very readable style. A useful overview of his work is that by Walton (1991).


Tom Peters is another list-maker. Some of his most famous books are In Search of Excellence, 1982 and A Passion for Escellence, 1985.

Peters' eight principles -- many of which you will recognize are as follows: