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Juran’s Four Human Obstacles to Quality

Joseph Juran died last week, aged 103. So, in recognition of his contribution to making organizations more customer-focussed by helping them to build in quality, here are Juran’s Four Human Obstacles to Quality

1. Unawareness
People are not aware that they are creating quality problems

2. Competition in priorities
People are unable to achieve quality because other goals that have higher priority get in the way.

3. Sub-optimization
The achievement of quality locally gets in the way of overall quality

4. Cultural myths
People hold sincere beliefs that are related to quality but that are not based on fact. These myths can be an obstacle to constructive efforts to achieve quality leadership.

“In most companies, these obstacles have their origin in prior managerial practices. It is therefore important to avoid any atmosphere of blame. The emphasis should be on what to do differently, and on the methods for making the needed changes.”

Who was Joseph Juran?

Juran, along with W Edwards Deming, was invited to Japan in 1954 and 1950 respectively to teach Japanese managers about quality and statistical process control respectively. Juran in particular is widely-seen as the father of the Japanese domination of global manufacturing in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s.

A prophet is never recognised in their own land, as they say. Juran and Deming were widely ignored in the West until western manufacturers started looking for the causes of the Japanese manufacturing miracle that led western customers to prefer Japanese products, and traced JIT, TQM, kanban and other ‘customer pull’ manufacturing techniques back to their roots in Deming and Juran’s post-war lectures in Japan. Their ideas were enthusiastically, if belatedly, taken up in the West, leading to the growth of the Quality movement.

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