103: 'Father of Quality' passes away

17 March 2008

Dr. Joseph M. Juran, author and ‘father of modern quality management', passed away this year on February 28. He was 103 years old, and was physically and mentally active until his death. Born in Braila, Romania, in 1904, Juran's family immigrated to the United States, settling in Minneapolis in 1912.

Juran's Quality Handbook
Juran's Quality Handbook

Among his achievements were the Pareto Principle and the groundwork for today’s understanding of Lean and Six Sigma. Because control engineering focuses on using sensors to make decisions and actuate changes, quality-related principles are readily applied in manufacturing and process control.

‘Dr. Juran recently told me that he wanted everyone to know he had a wonderful life and hoped that his contributions to improving the quality of our society will be remembered,’ said Joseph De Feo, CEO of the Juran Institute. ‘Although Dr. Juran has been retired from the Institute since 1995 he remained chairman emeritus and ensured that we could carry on his mission to improve the quality of our society. He was even still working hard at completing another text book, caring for himself and his wife of 81 years, Sadie, when he passed away.’

Juran, who had many notable accomplishments, was a major contributor to society in the field of quality management. He was recognised as the person who added the managerial dimension to quality, broadening it from its statistical origins.

In 1937, Juran coined the Pareto Principle, which millions of managers rely on to help separate the “vital few” from the “useful many” in their activities. He wrote the first standard reference work on quality management, Quality Control Handbook, in 1951, now in its sixth edition. His classic book, Managerial Breakthrough, published in 1964, presented a more general theory of quality management, describing a step-by-step sequence for breakthrough improvement. That process has evolved into Lean and Six Sigma and is the basis for quality initiatives worldwide. The Juran Trilogy, in 1986, identified and was accepted worldwide as the basis for quality management. After almost 50 years of research, the trilogy defined three management processes required by all organisations to improve – quality control, quality improvement, and quality planning – now synonymous with Juran and Juran Institute Inc., the organisation says.

Juran travelled the world to teach others how to improve quality. In 1979, at the age of 75, he founded Juran Institute, Inc., which initially focused on providing training and techniques to improve enterprise quality. It grew over the years to provide a full complement of tools and techniques to improve business results.

As a result of the power and clarity of Juran's thinking business leaders, legions of managers, and fellow theorists recognised him as one of “the vital few” and a seminal figure in the development of management theory who contributed more to the field and over a longer period of time than any other person. ‘My job of contributing to the welfare of my fellow man,’ wrote Juran ‘is the great unfinished business.’

Readers are invited to comment below and contribute thoughts and memories Dr. Juran by visiting Juran Institute’s blog.

– From the Control Engineering News Desk

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