Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Quality's Past and Future

This month in A View From The Q, ASQ CEO Paul Borawski reflects on the past and future of Quality. His message has gotten me thinking. I turn 50 at the end of the month which also has me reflecting on my life both past and future, how the concepts, tools and sciences of Quality have shaped my life, my career and what they hold for my future.

I've been a Quality professional since the mid 1980's. I've witnessed countless changes in the approaches to Quality, Quality Management, Business Excellence, etc. Most of my career has revolved around a series of Standards which began with MIL-I-45208, passed through MIL-Q-9858 and evolved into ISO 9000 (all versions - 1987, 1994, 2000, 2008). I've built a career and a consulting practice around this family of documents and they've treated me as well as I've treated them. The implementations and usage of these standards all stem from the earlier works of the Quality Guru's including Deming, Juran, Crosby, Feigenbaum, Taguchi, Ishikawa, etc. I fear, however, that their work has gone by the wayside, that they are out of sight, out of mind. Paul's comment about young professional not knowing our guru's has me concerned. The future must be built upon the past lest we reinvent the wheel, yet again.

With the upcoming anniversary I've noticed an abundance of bumper stickers stating 'Never Forget'. I implore our young Quality professionals and practitioners to heed that call with regard to the tremendous historical works of Quality's past. We cannot forget from whence we came. Embrace the past to build a better future.


  1. How can we "forget" our quality forefathers if we never knew them. As a twenty-something quality professional, such leaders and "gurus" have never been introduced. I think the challenge isn't as simple as remembering these figures, but moreso the continued proliferation of their ideas, theories, and practices.

  2. Ryan,

    Thanks for the feedback. You raise a good point.

    In any discipline one must study the history to move the discipline forward. I implore you and other young quality professionals to study the works of the pioneers of quality. You will find tremendous wisdom in their body of work.