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Quality Is Free: The Art of Making Quality Certain

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A best-selling promoter of "Quality" programs for businesses presents a case study showing how the ITT corporation saved $720 million dollars by adhering to his quality concepts. Reissue.

270 pages, Paperback

First published December 28, 1979

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Philip B. Crosby

34 books15 followers

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5 stars
92 (40%)
4 stars
77 (33%)
3 stars
42 (18%)
2 stars
14 (6%)
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5 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 23 of 23 reviews
Profile Image for Sheryl.
7 reviews1 follower
November 29, 2011
I have known Philip Crosby, the world's renowned quality guru, seven years ago when I was handling Quality Consciousness, Habits and Processes subject. Looking back, I really admire this brilliant person for he gave me an idea what quality is all about, how to measure it, and why it is importance to uphold it in an organization. It was my first time to handle a Quality Control subject, but I really enjoyed it for I have learned a lot from Philip Crosby.

Doing things right the first time adds nothing to the cost of the company's product or service. Doing things wrong is what costs money. What costs money are the unquality things - all the actions involve not doing jobs right the first time. The typical American corporation spends 15 to 20 percent of its sales dollar on reworking, scrapping, repeated service, inspection, tests, warranties and other quality-related costs. Lapses in quality are also damage corporate reputations and provoked government regulation. Most, or all, of these headaches could be prevented by a properly managed quality reputation.

Whether you manage a huge plant or hamburger stand, applying the common sense principles of quality control will boost your profits and your career. The book, Quality Is Free, by Philip Crosby showed how to overcome the traditional idea that quality control is something that happens only on the manufacturing line, not in the management office. Although there are effective statistical ways to define measure and increase quality, quality begins with people not with things. And not just some people, but everyone involved in producing marketing goods or services.

There are valuable quality binding tools that the author discussed, such as; Quality Management Maturity Grid, which is an entire objective for measuring the firm's present quality system; Quality Improvement Program, which is a proven 14-step procedure that can turn your business around; Make Certain Program, the first detect prevention program ever for white-collar and manufacturing employees; and Management Style Evaluation, a self-examination process for manager that shows, how one's personal qualities may be influencing product quality.

This book is about the art of making quality certain. Managers of any operation or function can take the practical, nontechnical steps to improve their quality.
Profile Image for Ed Selkow.
11 reviews2 followers
April 30, 2011
Learned about this book the hard way. I was contracted to clean the offices of the foremost authority on quality control. Didn't only read the book but worked for the author's company and it changed my professional life.
Profile Image for Brad Ward.
Author 1 book5 followers
June 24, 2021
Quality is Free (1979) reads like a modern-day management theory text. Although “quality” in the title makes it seem like it is geared strictly towards QC professionals, it really feels like it was written almost yesterday for anybody practicing management. One example of how current the writing feels is that Crosby mentions smallpox and why people would (or would not) get vaccinated. Undoubtedly, smallpox is a dated virus but the reasons why people would get a shot (Covid) could be cut and pasted into today’s newspaper. He then ties this rationale into workplace behavior. There are many examples like this.
Theoretically, the book touches on many concepts, albeit implicitly, such as employee motivation (elements of Two-Factor theory), leadership theory, team dynamics, lean manufacturing, job characteristics, and beyond. The text thoroughly explains the ambiguous term “quality” and how to implement a robust quality management regime. More important, the book is free of fluff and is gimmick free (except for the title!): it is like a realistic job preview for a manager hoping to implement and sustain a new QC system. The book is perhaps softer skilled based than many of the quantitative books in the genre, but it truly gets at the heart of why quality improvement programs fail and gives practical tools and cases to reference to overcome these obstacles. I highly recommend this book….but it is probably not free (but you can get it used for almost free)!
Profile Image for Bernie4444.
2,265 reviews6 followers
December 26, 2022
Philip Crosby cannot read a dictionary

Let’s look at three words from Webster's II, New Riverside University Dictionary.

Quality is 1. Essential character: nature. 2 a. Inherent or distinguishing attributes. b. Degree or grade of excellence. (More definitions follow this train of thought.)

The conformity is 1. Likeness in form or character

Require is 1. To have as a requisite: need

Philip Crosby is attempting to push “New Speak” 1984, on us by usurping a word for his purpose and negating its intended meaning. On page 15 he describes quality as “conformance to requirements” It is easy to conform to inappropriate specs. Is that quality? Is that free?

However, this book is considered a classic. It was written in the days of typewriters. He refers to giving women a chance. He gets zero defects mixed up with quality. It is fun to play games with his “Maturity Grid” however too much time with it can put you out of business.
Profile Image for David.
27 reviews
January 23, 2021
Lots of gems in this book that well represent the experience I had when I worked for a manufacturing company that cared deeply about quality in every department, machinery, workplace cleanliness, delivery, accounting, and software development. My favorite is on the last page, "workers perform like the attitude of the management."

"... you do no one a favor when you create new 'temporary' requirements on the spot. The designated requirements are met or they are not."

"The only performance standard is zero defects."

"People don't really work for money."

"Everyone is to blame when no one was responsible."

"We must define quality as 'conformance to requirements' if we are to manage it."
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
18 reviews
October 20, 2019
Quality is conformance to requirements. In this way, quality can be “free” - do the job right the first time around, or cause the requirements or tools to be changed if they are preventing you from doing it right. In this way, Zero Defects can be achieved.

Very good read, but I’m not sure how well it translates outside of manufacturing - the software world is not like a production line: requirements are fuzzy, the designers are also the builders, and defects often arise from emergent complexity.
Profile Image for Andre.
360 reviews7 followers
November 10, 2019
I've encountered most of this material in other books that came after: Deming, TOC, Lean, etc.
What I can't reconcile is the "do it right the first time" conformance approach to quality with the approaches that have come later: devops, TMS, etc. While they shoot for zero defects they (in particular Deming) realize that there is inherent variability in the system that prevent achieving literally ZD.
Profile Image for Adam Cook.
3 reviews
August 16, 2021
Good book with a nice system and lots of wisdom. Some disagreements on a few of the concepts and it could do with modernisation but other than that still a great read for those who are in the business of quality (everyone!).
Profile Image for Mat Rueter.
263 reviews4 followers
July 18, 2017
It isn't what you find, it's what you do about what you find.
December 25, 2020
This is my favorite book on Quality. Philip Crosby was a genius on explaining Quality and giving practical ways to achieve effective high Quality in your organization.
Profile Image for Og Maciel.
Author 6 books31 followers
November 16, 2016
Though this book was written in the late 1970s, its ideas and concepts are very much still valid and worth of your time. Whoever said that quality should only happen at the end of a process, be that in manufacturing, software development or in your private life, needs to get themselves up to speed. Quality IS free and should be part of every single phase! Gave it ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Profile Image for Wayne Zill.
72 reviews
July 25, 2023
Quality is Free was the basic premise for the company I was working with at the time's entire PONC (Price of Non-Conformance) and a lot of its Quality performance direction in its main Training Program for construction personnel. Solid book with solid concepts that have stood the test of time.
12 reviews
February 19, 2016
I learned a few things about the definition of quality but I can't say that I was very moved by the book. I don't see my self in a position to influence quality control programs at my work so it really wasn't very interesting to read.
Profile Image for Ron.
22 reviews2 followers
February 2, 2011
It is ALWAYS cheaper to do it right than to do it wrong over and over. Quality that is built in verses tested out will be FREE.
Profile Image for Brittany.
49 reviews1 follower
January 19, 2016
A lot of repetition helps Crosby get the point across. I read this for the advanced topics in project management class at FSU. Not a bad read altogether and the concept makes perfect sense.
Displaying 1 - 23 of 23 reviews

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