Welcome to the second installment in our blog series featuring Joseph Juran, “Architect of Quality.”1 Today, we’re going to take a deeper look at one of his major contributions – the addition of the “human dimension” to management theory.
In the 1920s when Joseph Juran began his profession, the field of quality management used various theories, principles, and tools to optimize product quality. Throughout his career, Juran noticed many human relations problems between his own co-workers, and he saw similar issues with client managers and employees for whom he consulted.2 He recognized that these clashes all had a common root cause, which was resistance to change, or cultural resistance.2 This theory occurred to him in 1956 after reading Margaret Mead’s Cultural Patterns and Technical Change, in which she portrayed the cultural clashes that led to local resistance encountered by United Nations teams tasked with improving conditions in developing countries.3 Juran applied this concept to business relations in his book Managerial Breakthrough, which earned him widespread renown for the introduction of the human element to quality management.4
Juran’s ideas about quality management extended beyond the manufacturing process, which at the time was the main focus of the quality practices that were generally employed. He believed service and customer perception were important considerations in addition to the physical quality of the product. He was quick to draw parallels between aspects of business that operated using common principles. In a 1997 interview he stated:
The key issues facing managers in sales are no different than those faced by managers in other disciplines. Sales managers say they face problems such as "It takes us too long...we need to reduce the error rate." They want to know, "How do customers perceive us?" These issues are no different than those facing managers trying to improve in other fields. The systematic approaches to improvement are identical. ... There should be no reason our familiar principles of quality and process engineering would not work in the sales process.5
Although Juran never thought his ideas about the human element of management and quality systems were revolutionary, he did concede “Maybe I was the first to apply it to quality.”6 Juran was always modest about his work, but he left a significant mark on the quality management field. Stay tuned as we explore more of Juran’s contributions in the next few weeks!
- Juran, Joseph M. (2004), Architect of Quality: The Autobiography of Dr. Joseph M. Juran (1 ed.), New York City: McGraw-Hill.
- Phillips-Donaldson, Debbie (May 2004), "100 Years Of Juran", Quality Progress (Milwaukee, Wisconsin: American Society for Quality) 37 (5): 25–39.
- Margaret Mead, Cultural Patterns and Technical Change, 1 ed., UNESCO, 1955.
- Joseph M. Juran (1964), Managerial Breakthrough, New York City: McGraw-Hill.
- Paul H. Selden (1997), Sales Process Engineering: A Personal Workshop, Milwaukee, WI: ASQ Quality Press, pp. xxi–xxii.
- Personal interview with Joseph M. Juran, March 2, 2004. (Also see reference 2)