Dr. Joseph Moses Juran must be credited with not only having revolutionised the way manufacturers looked at quality, he also helped Japan, devastated after WWII, to set global quality standards. Sourya Biswas looks into the life of one of the greatest thinkers of our time.
Amidst the entire din surrounding India's annual fiscal ritual and its aftermath, the demise of the man who, in many ways epitomized perfection, was quietly buried most publications in the country. We are talking of Joseph Moses Juran, the ''father of quality management'', who passed away on 28 February at the sprightly age of 103. Few would dare call a man more than a century old as sprightly, but in the context of Dr Juran it is entirely justified, active as he was till his last days, writing another treatise instructing businesses how to conduct their affairs. In many ways, his long life reflected the very credo of quality he so vigorously espoused.
Before embarking on a short journey of his long and illustrious life, it would be proper to inform our readers of Dr Juran's long association with Indian quality pioneer Suresh Lulla, founder of consulting firm Qimpro, who regards this quality legend as his life-long mentor. (See: Indian Quality improvement pioneer Qimpro turns 20) This article sheds more light on Dr. Juran's impact on Indian manufacturing.
The early years
Joseph Moses was born on Christmas Eve 1904 to a poor Jewish family in the Romanian town of Braila. His father Jakob, the village shoemaker, dreamt the ''American Dream'' and moved to the US in 1909, leaving his young family behind until he could earn enough to bring them in. Three years later he succeeded and the Juran clan set foot on America. Despite the new opportunities the new land of opportunity provided, times were tough and poverty prevailed.
As a youngster Joseph exhibited signs of his brilliance at a young age, and managed to outscore his peers in school, so much so that he was promoted out of turn and skipped four grade levels before graduation.
He then enrolled at the University of Minnesota in 1920, and passed out four years later with a degree in electrical engineering. He would later in his life earn a law degree as well. In college, he excelled not only in academics but also in chess, becoming the university champion and participating in inter-state competitions.
First taste of corporate life
After completing his first stint of formal education, Juran joined the Western Electric Co, the former manufacturing arm of Associated Telegraph & Telephones (AT&T), in the inspection department of its famed Hawthorne Labs. 1926 marked a turning point in young Juran's life, both personally and professionally. On the personal front, he married Sadie Shapiro, with whom he subsequently had four children and remained married for over 81 years until his death last week.
His career too got a fillip when he was selected for a training programme designed to implement new tools and techniques at AT&T, and came under the watchful eye of his mentor Walter Shewhart.
From a pool of 20 trainees, he went on to become one of the two engineers for the inspection statistical department, one of the first such specialised divisions in American industry. In 1928, Juran authored his first work on quality, a training pamphlet called Statistical Methods Applied to Manufacturing Problems, which explored the use of sampling in analysing and controlling manufacturing quality.
This became an input to the well-known AT&T Statistical Quality Control Handbook, still published today. He continued to excel in chess at AT&T while rising professionally, and by 1937 became the chief of industrial engineering at Western Electric after moving to the firm's head offices at New York. He also published his first article on quality in the journal Mechanical Engineering in 1935.
Life as a bureaucrat
During World War II from 1939 to 1945, he aided the country's war effort by moving to the capital as an assistant in the Lend Lease Administration. In Washington D.C., he improved the entire process by making it more efficient and less time-consuming, resulting in smoother shipments to America's wartime allies.
In the meanwhile, Juran came across the work of Vilfredo Pareto, the Italian philosopher who had theorized that 80 per cent of the effects are due to 20 per cent of the causes. Extending this theme to the field of quality, Juran codified what is known as ''the vital few and the trivial many''.
Subsequently, he modified it to ''the vital few and the useful many'', implying that the majority 80 per cent of causes of quality issues could not be ignored. Juran's extensive use of this principle has led many to mistakenly identify him as the proponent of this principle.
After his initial experiences in the worlds corporate and government, Joseph Juran dedicated himself towards the learning and teaching of quality management. Post his brief wartime foray into bureaucracy, Juran taught at New York University, where he became the chairman of the department of administrative engineering. He also developed a thriving consulting practice, wrote several books and lectured extensively for the American Management Association.
His reputation as an expert on quality issues was further cemented by the publication in 1951 of his seminal work, the Quality Control Handbook. This classic management bestseller went on to be published in five editions, and, currently in its sixth edition, is still considered as a reference work for quality managers worldwide.
The Japanese experience
After the ravages of World War II, Japan's economy was in shambles and its industry faced major quality issues. Recognizing Juran's expertise on the subject, the Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers (JUSE) invited him to Japan in 1954. Working independently of his distinguished colleague Dr William Edwards Deming who focused on statistical quality control (SQC), Juran concentrated on the human factor and managing for quality for Japan's business leaders.
The contributions of these two luminaries contributed immensely towards the revitalisation of Japan's industry that later went on to become synonymous with quality.
Emperor Hirohito subsequently honoured Juran and Deming with the Second Order of the Sacred Heart award. This is the highest Japanese award for foreigners.
Juran published his lectures from Japan in his classic Managerial Breakthrough in 1964. It was the first book to prescribe a step-by-step sequence for breakthrough improvement, which has since evolved into the Six Sigma methodology formulated by Bill Smith of Motorola in 1986.
In 1966, Juran promoted the Japanese idea of crop circles, and founded the famous Juran Institute Inc in 1979. This institute, now headed by Joseph De Feo, is considered among world's leading quality management consultancies and has affiliates throughout the world, including Qimpro in India.
In 1986, Juran published the Juran Trilogy, which was the culmination of over 50 years of research. In it he expanded on the holy trinity of quality management – planning, improvement and control. The salient features can be summarised as:
|Quality Planning || |
- Identify who are the customers.
- Determine the needs of those customers.
- Translate those needs into our language.
- Develop a product that can respond to those needs.
- Optimise the product features so as to meet our needs and customer needs.
|Quality Improvement || |
- Develop a process that is able to produce the product.
- Optimise the process.
|Quality Control || |
- Prove that the process can produce the product under operating conditions with minimal inspection.
- Transfer the process to Operations.
Dr Juran was a man whose life spanned a century and whose work affected manufacturing across countries. He believed that improvement in quality not only benefits the consumer of a product or service, but the manufacturer or service provider as well. And this was true not only for industries but scientific, medical and educational establishments as well. He had been recognized and feted worldwide for his accomplishments, which are too many to enumerate.
He has a veritable army of followers and admirers, many of them notable names in industry and academia. Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Computers, regards Juran's ''deep, deep contribution'' in high esteem. Jungi Noguchi, Executive Director of the Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers (JUSE), states categorically that, "Dr. Juran is the greatest authority on quality control in the entire world." Peter Drucker, the 'father of modern management' and the first person to teach it as a subject, asserted that, "Whatever advances American manufacturing has made in the last 30 to 40 years, we owe to Joe Juran and to his untiring, steady, patient, self-effacing work."
- 1904 – Born on 24 December in Braila, Romania.
- 1912 – Immigrated to the USA.
- 1920 – Enrolled at the University of Minnesota.
- 1924 – Graduated from university. Joined Western Electric Co.
- 1926 – Married Sadie Shapiro. Selected for training program.
- 1928 – Authored Statistical Methods Applied to Manufacturing Problems.
- 1935 – Published his first article on quality in Mechanical Engineering.
- 1937 – Became chief of Industrial Engineering at Western Electric.
- 1939 – Moved to Washington D.C. as part of Lend-Lease Administration.
- 1941 – Discovered and popularized the Pareto Principle.
- 1945 – Left government to teach at New York University.
- 1951 – Published Quality Control Handbook.
- 1954 – Visited Japan on the invitation of JUSE.
- 1964 – Published Managerial Breakthrough.
- 1966 – Promoted the idea of Quality Circles.
- 1979 – Founded Juran Institute Inc.
- 1986 – Published Juran Trilogy
- 2008 – Died on February 28. Survived by wife and four children.