Joseph Juran – A Leader in Quality

In the world of continuous improvement, you may be most familiar with names like Shigeo Shingo, Taiichi Ohno and Edward Deming.

But let me take a moment to pay tribute to another important figure, Joseph Juran, who died Thursday at the age of 103.

Among other books, Juran, a Romanian immigrant, wrote the Quality Control Handbook, first published way back in 1951 and now entering its sixth edition. According to the obituary in The New York Times,

Mr. Juran’s work in quality management led to the development of the widely practiced business methodologies referred to as Six Sigma and lean manufacturing. He founded the Juran Institute, a training and consulting firm in Southbury, Conn.

He created the Pareto principle, also known as the 80-20 rule, which states that 80 percent of consequences stem from 20 percent of causes. Today managers use the Pareto principle, named for an Italian economist, to help them separate what Mr. Juran called the “vital few” resources from the “useful many.”

Whether Juran deserves as much credit as the Times gives him can be debated, but he certainly was an important figure in the improvement world. The Times also notes that

In a Public Broadcasting System documentary about Mr. Juran called “An Immigrant’s Gift,” Peter Drucker, the late author and management consultant, said Mr. Juran’s influence on the nation’s industrial economy could not be overstated.

But what most impresses me was Juran’s attitude.

Recently, Mr. Juran was working on an updated edition to another of his books. David Juran (his grandson) and Joseph De Feo, the Juran Institute’s chief executive, said they planned to finish the book.

“His belief was that you always have a project to keep your mind going,” Mr. De Feo said. “He always had something to do…”

Mr. Juran remained actively involved with the institute even after his official retirement in 1994. A celebration of the institute’s 25th anniversary also served as his 100th birthday party, with a cake decorated to resemble a stack of books he had written.

“He never really made a distinction between work and leisure. He enjoyed his work so much that any time he had he spent working,” David Juran said. “To him there was no such concept as retirement or a day off.”

There are many fine thinkers and writers working in continuous improvement today. Let’s hope one legacy of Joseph Juran is that he inspires even more people.


Ian Furst said...

Thanks for the info Ralph -- I'm going to put you're site on my blog. I think you've created a great resource for people looking for lean tools. If you think it's appropriate could you list me on you're blog? Thanks Ian.

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