Ten years ago, in our March 1995
issue, we profiled 45 "New Quality Gurus." Although it was one
of our more popular articles, some of the "gurus" and their
causes have faded into obscurity. Other gurus chased the
latest fads into oblivion. A few have shown remarkable staying
When we decided to revisit the quality gurus issue, one
thing was immediately apparent: There isn't any one guru who
stands out above the rest. In fact, the quality profession is
remarkably free of fads at the moment. Six Sigma has settled
into the mainstream, and ISO 9001 has become firmly entrenched
in Corporate America. So while we wait for the "Next Big
Thing," we're also waiting for the next big guru.
This time around we wanted to avoid the guru label, which
has a faint hint of hucksterism. Instead, we chose to focus on
those individuals who are driving forces in the quality
profession, either through their work, their employment, their
writings or their visibility.
Are there others who should be on the list? You bet. We
just couldn't include everyone. Therefore, presented for your
reading pleasure over the next several pages in alphabetical
order, are this year's quality drivers.
The Audit Guy
If you've been to an ASQ
conference in the past decade, chances are you've seen Dennis
Arter. His trademark hat is only one feature that sets him
apart in a crowd. This prolific author, speaker and instructor
stands out from his peers due to his sheer knowledge of
quality principles, tools and techniques.
Arter is best known for his work with auditing, having
helped develop ASQ's Certified Quality Auditor program,
authored the bestselling Quality Audits for Improved
Performance (ASQ Quality Press, 2003) and trained more
than 8,000 people in quality auditing techniques.
Arter traces the roots of ISO 9001 back to Adm. Hyman G.
Rickover. "He started everything in the early 1950s, with the
development of the Navy nuclear power program," Arter
explains. "Rickover understood that the public would not
accept this technology unless it was implemented without
error. He taught his officers and crew the necessity of
attention to detail."
Arter credits Rickover's obsession with details as the seed
that grew into ISO 9001. "I suspect that the 'Rickover Way'
had a great deal of influence on the development of
MIL-Q-9858. We all know that this document begat the 10CFR20,
Appendix B, regulations for the civilian nuclear industry,
which begat the first ISO 9001 standard in 1987. (Despite what
the British might lead you to believe.)"
Regardless of Rickover's attention to detail, Arter sees
modern-day quality professionals' obsession with documentation
as destructive. "Our profession has gone overboard," he says.
"This is a real turnoff to other stakeholders, especially
senior managers, who put up with our outrageous demands for
signatures and stamps and wordy procedures. Our excessive love
of documentation has caused our profession to lose
The Man Behind the Curtain
American Society for Quality
The American Society for Quality
is the professional organization for the quality
industry. Although the organization's elected officials are
the public face of ASQ, there's no doubt that Paul Borawski is
Borawski's nearly 20-year reign at ASQ--he joined the
society in 1986 and was appointed executive director in
1988--has been remarkably successful. ASQ's membership swelled
to a peak of more than 140,000 and increased its reach both
internationally and further into the executive suites. ASQ
also increased its revenues significantly.
As executive director, Borawski oversees ASQ's staff of
more than 220 and an annual budget in excess of $40 million.
Some criticize Borawski for the ASQ's decline in
membership, which recently dipped below 100,000. Others praise
his work to keep membership numbers high despite a significant
reduction in the number of people in the quality profession.
In fact, ASQ (and Borawski) should receive credit for boosting
the quality profession. ASQ's recent multimillion-dollar ad
campaign in national newspapers and magazines to promote
quality awareness is just one example of what the organization
is doing to help make quality more visible.
Borawski declined to comment directly for this profile,
deferring instead to the rank-and-file ASQ members who make up
the organization's heart and soul. "Anything I've learned the
past 18 years at ASQ pales in comparison to those who practice
quality, have mastered the tools and led the developments in
the field," he says. "I'm proud to play a part in their story,
and enjoy the view my position provides, but think of myself
as the enabler of their vision, certainly not a driver."
JOSEPH R. BRANSKY
ISO/TS 16949 IATF
General Motors Corp.
Joe Bransky came out of
retirement to be General Motors' representative to the ISO/TS
16949 International Automotive Task Force. Since assuming that
role, Bransky has been a leader on the task force and a key
player in the international standards community. Bransky never
fails to keep his eye on the objective: improving the quality
of the Big Three's products by improving the quality of
suppliers' products. He's keenly aware of the highly
competitive nature of the global automotive community and
works hard to instill the knowledge and tools suppliers need
"It's a buyer's market and it's global," he explains. "This
means that the customer wins. Organizations will succeed if
they have leadership with a fundamental understanding that the
total customer owner----ship experience must be integrated
into the product or service realization process. Those
organizations that fail to grasp this concept will struggle."
Bransky sees an organization's quality management system as
providing a common language for quality improvement and
learning. "I think it's clear that there are no gimmicks to
having a quality management system that works," he says. "This
is about effectively managing risks related to achieving
product and service satisfaction focused on the customer.
Objective assessment is the starting point, followed by
defining the strategies and initiatives to achieve the goal.
Implementation requires marshalling resources and organization
knowledge to get the job done, minimizing complexity and
redundancy, and staying on track."
RABQSA International Inc.
As president and CEO of RABQSA International Inc., Michael
Carmody is responsible for ensuring the integrity and
professionalism of quality auditors. In coming years, he
forecasts that auditors will have to prove that they can add
tangible value to their client organizations' performance, and
that the standards they comply to will evolve to illustrate
"Industry will demand competence, not simply qualifications
and experience," Carmody says. "Auditors will be required to
demonstrate the appropriate knowledge, skill and personal
attributes to defined industry standards. Simple
compliance-based auditing will remain, though it will most
likely be reduced to a commodity-based service."
The Ice Cream Maker
ASI Consulting Group
As a consultant, Subir Chowdhury
travels the world, but he sees the same problems everywhere he
goes: ineffective, compartmentalized quality efforts. It's his
mission to teach organizations that to be successful, quality
must be the mission of each and every employee, and that means
making all employees quality technicians in their own right.
"Even in organizations where quality is supposedly driven
deep into the culture, there is a sense that quality is the
responsibility of the quality department," Chowdhury laments.
"That's not right. If there's a problem with a product or
service, the CEO shouldn't hammer the quality department. He
should look at the design, the delivery, the entire method of
delivering that item to the customer. That's where the problem
Chowdhury's latest book, The Ice Cream Maker
(Currency Doubleday, 2005) is being published this month
and has already received rave reviews. You can read an excerpt
from The Ice Cream Maker on page 39 of this issue.
JOSEPH DE FEO
As president and CEO of the Juran
Institute, Joe De Feo has some big shoes to fill (or, to use
the appropriate Juran lingo, a big bowtie to wear). De Feo is
responsible for running the namesake organization for the man
who is considered to be one of the most influential quality
thinkers of our time.
De Feo wears the bowtie well. He's a prolific writer,
speaker and consultant who logs hundreds of thousands of miles
each year visiting clients around the world to spread Juran's
(and his own) quality gospel.
De Feo believes that organizations need to focus on two
tools to improve quality: the Pareto principle and the cost of
poor quality (COPQ). "The Pareto principle gets us to focus on
the vital few (customer needs, problems, variables, etc.) and
separate that from the useful many," he explains. "The COPQ
places the quality profession where it needs to be in the
waste reduction and quality improvement arena. Too many
quality professionals are trying to be cost cutters and don't
understand the importance of focusing on the costs of poor
TRIZ (a Russian acronym for
Theory of Inventive Problem Solving) may not be as well known
as Six Sigma, lean or quality function deployment, but
increasing numbers of quality professionals are realizing that
TRIZ is a powerful tool for merging quality components into
"super" systems capable of managing large-scale operations.
Ellen Domb has spent much of the past decade showing people
how to integrate the TRIZ method of creativity and innovation
into their quality applications. Domb is president of the PGR
Group, and is also a charter member of the Quality Function
Deployment Institute, co-founder of the TRIZ Institute and
editor of The TRIZ Journal.
Domb reports that the integration of different quality
systems will accelerate during the next five years, requiring
the diligent attention of experienced quality professionals
who can shape the evolving systems.
"We've seen quality grow from the detection of defects in
manufacturing to quality assurance, and to quality improvement
in services, manufacturing and the public sector," Domb says.
"As these super-systems evolve, quality professionals will
play strong and significant roles, applying their knowledge of
measurement, evaluation and improvement at all levels and in
H. JAMES HARRINGTON
Chairman of the
The Harrington Institute Inc.
A list of quality drivers just
wouldn't be complete without the inclusion of H. James
Harrington, one of the quality industry's most well-known
consultants, authors and thinkers. Harrington is now chairman
of the board at The Harrington Institute, but he holds
positions with many other notable organizations, too:
president of the Walter L. Hurd Foundation, U.S. chairman on
technologies for project management at the University of
Quebec and chairman of the advisory board for the e-TQM
College in Dubai.
Harrington, who writes a monthly column for Quality
Digest, is recognized as a world leader in applying
performance improvement methodologies to business processes.
He has authored 22 books, 10 software packages and hundreds of
The Father of Six Sigma
Six Sigma Management Institute
Mikel Harry, along with engineer
Bill Smith, developed Six Sigma during the early 1980s at
Motorola. Since then, Harry has become one of the industry's
premier speakers, authors and thinkers. He founded the Six
Sigma Academy in 1994, and now serves as chairman and CEO of
the Six Sigma Management Institute. Harry has personally
trained and worked with some of the world's top
businesspeople: Jack Welch of General Electric, Jacques Nasser
of Ford Motor Co. and Larry Bossidy of AlliedSignal, along
with their respective senior executive teams.
Harry acknowledges that Six Sigma has evolved since its
inception, which has been a mixed blessing. On the one hand,
its evolution has been at the behest of natural market forces,
but with that comes the tendency to dilute Six Sigma's power
and effectiveness. In recent years, Harry has worked to make
Six Sigma relevant to current market forces in several ways:
with the development of Six Sigma Generation III, which
focuses the methodology from defect reduction to value
creation; in the development of IRCA--innovate, realize,
configure, attenuate--a new methodology that shapes ideas into
market-ready products or services; and through a partnership
with Arizona State University to provide low-cost online Green
As director of the Baldrige
National Quality Program, Harry Hertz oversees an award
program that casts a long shadow over the quality industry.
Winning a Baldrige Award is a major feather in the hat for any
organization, and administering the program is no small feat.
The program receives 60 Baldrige Award applications each year,
and its affiliated quality awards at the state level receive
another 500 applications.
Hertz is a chemist by training and started his career as a
bench chemist before moving into management. He's been
director of the Baldrige National Quality Program since 1996
and has always emphasized the importance of measuring
performance to improve quality.
"The main thing organizations can do to improve their own
quality is to move their quality efforts from a tactical
perspective to a strategic opportunity," he says. "It has to
be part of the mission of the organization."
ROBERT H. KING, JR.
As president and CEO of the
ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB), it's Robert H.
King, Jr.'s job to ensure that ANAB-accredited programs meet
regulatory requirements and standards. It's a complicated task
with an international focus that demands careful attention to
detail. King has a long and distinguished professional
history: before becoming president of the Registrar
Accreditation Board (ANAB's precursor) in 2002, King was Bayer
Corp.'s vice president for the NAFTA supply chain. Prior to
joining Bayer in 1985, he worked for Dow Chemical. King served
as a captain in military intelligence in the U.S. Army and
holds a bachelor's degree in international studies.
He's previously said that ANAB's most valuable capability
is its ability to legitimize programs registered to ISO 9001
and other standards through accreditation.
"The only thing I have to sell is integrity," he says. "My
mission is to uphold the integrity of the accreditation and
registration processes and ensure there's a balanced, ethical
approach to the business."
Corrective Action Queen
Denise Robitaille is quickly
becoming known as the "Corrective Action Queen." Her
bestselling book, The Corrective Action Handbook
(Paton Press, 2001), along with others on preventive action,
management review, root cause analysis and document control,
has made her the go-to gal for quality tools. Robitaille's
special knack is for making seemingly complex principles such
as corrective action and root cause analysis not just
understandable but usable by almost anyone.
Robitaille sees quality management systems not from the
lofty perch of senior executive offices or the hallowed halls
of ISO but from the guy or gal in the trenches who's
responsible for getting product out the door.
Robitaille sees ISO 9001 as the great equalizer. "I think
that the proliferation of ISO 9001 has brought quality
management into the mainstream and created more parity in the
marketplace," she says. "It's one of the few models that works
equally well for a three-man machine shop and a 10,000-person
Robitaille sees a migration within the ranks of quality
professionals. "Quality professionals need to migrate their
roles from owners of the quality system to champions, mentors
and coaches," she advises. "They need to teach others the
tools and become facilitators and managers of the quality
processes and initiatives... not the sole proprietors of an
isolated institution within a company."
When he became president and CEO
of Hexagon AG in 2000, Ola Rollén grabbed the reins and
cracked the whip, driving the sleepy Swedish conglomerate into
a leading player in the metrology market. He's overseen the
acquisition of several major metrology companies: Brown &
Sharpe in 2001, Quality Ltd. and CE Johansson in 2002, ROMER
CimCore Inc. and Sheffield Measurement Inc. in 2004, and
Starrett's CMM business earlier this year. Hexagon is
currently attempting to acquire Leica Geosystems.
Rollén's goal for Hexagon over the next decade is to spread
the use of Hexagon dimensional metrology software, a task that
shouldn't be difficult given its grasp on PC-DMIS software and
ROMER CimCore's widely used articulating arm technology.
"Companies must make more meaningful use of the metrology
data that are being collected--going beyond merely determining
if one part in isolation is good or bad," Rollén says.
"Instead, companies need to begin closing the loop between
design and manufacture of a product by capturing the
dimensional design intent electronically, following the
product throughout manufacture, until we have a finished
product that we can compare to the original design intent in
an entirely paperless way."
President and Senior
ASI Consulting Group LLC
As the son of the legendary
quality thinker Genichi Taguchi, Shin Taguchi certainly has
the pedigree of a quality guru. But he's also done the hard
work to earn the honor: As a consultant and president of ASI
Consulting Group, he's one of the quality industry's most
sought-after professionals. His client list is a roster of
industry heavy-hitters: General Motors Corp., Hyundai Motor
Co., Ford Motor Co., Kodak, Texas Instruments Inc. and Lexmark
International Inc. Over the years, he's trained more than
25,000 engineers worldwide in quality engineering, product and
process optimization, and his father's renowned Taguchi
Taguchi is a disciple of robust engineering, the practice
of designing products to avoid future quality problems. He
believes that the quality goal of companies should be to solve
quality problems before they're created. "Firefighting"
quality flaws through post-production inspection is useless.
"The goal for best-in-class companies is to design
processes and products to be trouble-free, even when the
concept contains new technology," Taguchi says. "This will
lead to pure prevention. I see many companies that are very
good at improving unoptimized design by firefighting and
problem solving. In this way, they reduce short-term quality
costs. The question is, how many companies are really good at
preventing reoccurrences of the same or similar problems?"
Mr. ISO 9000
JOHN E. (JACK)
U.S. TAG to ISO/TC
Jack West's position as the chair
of the U.S. TAG to ISO/TC 176, the technical committee
responsible for the ISO 9000 family of quality management
standards, often puts him in a unique position. He's both "a
defender of the faith" and recipient of the wrath of those
unhappy with ISO 9001. Those who know West are well aware of
his deep knowledge of quality principles and tools, his
real-world business experience, and his encyclopedic knowledge
of the standards world and the inner workings of ISO. Add
West's no-nonsense demeanor, tempered with a dash of Southern
charm, and you've got one very powerful figure.
West is the public face of ISO in America, at least to the
quality community, and a driving force behind the latest
revision to the standard (and presumably the next, even though
his tenure as chair ends soon). As such, it's understandable
that West is a champion of ISO 9001, seeing the standard as
having had a tremendous effect on the quality profession.
"ISO 9001 has provided a stable platform for organizations
to develop a quality system and sustain it over time," he
says. "Most other basic systems haven't had that staying
DONALD J. WHEELER
Donald J. Wheeler is perhaps the
most highly respected, well-regarded statistician in the
quality profession. This former university
professor-turned-consultant commands unparalleled respect from
both his peers and the boardroom.
Although he worked closely with W. Edwards Deming, Wheeler
has managed to step out of the great man's shadow and build
successful consulting and publishing businesses, a feat few
other Deming disciples managed. His books are used in
countless colleges, universities and businesses to help
teach statistical process control, the backbone of modern
Wheeler credits Walter Shewhart and Deming as having the
most lasting effect on the quality profession. "How do you
compare the contributions of those alive today with the
contribution of Dr. Shewhart, who created the discipline of
data analysis and first applied statistical techniques to
quality control?" he asks. "Or how do you compare them with
the contribution of Dr. Deming, who effectively promoted
Shewhart's ideas into a unified approach to quality? While
many of us have made contributions, we are merely standing on
the shoulders of these giants."
Laura Smith is Quality
Digest's assistant editor. QD