Philip Crosby: The Man Who Said “Quality is Free”

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  • Philip Crosby: The Man Who Said “Quality is Free”

Born: Jun 18, 1926

Died: Aug 18, 2006

Philip Crosby is best known for:

Quality is Free - His first book that made him famous.

Zero Defects - One of his four absolutes of quality.

The Four Absolutes of Quality - See the details below.

The Crosby Vaccine - for management to prevent poor quality

The Fourteen Steps of Quality Improvement

KEY Takeaways

  • Quality is free – This is the most important thing that Crosby said.
  • The Four Absolutes are the foundation of quality management.
  • The "Crosby Vaccine" is a set of guidelines for managers to prevent poor quality.

A Brief Introduction:

The founder and chairman of the board of Career IV, an executive management consulting firm. Crosby also founded Philip Crosby Associates Inc. and the Quality College. He has authored many books, including Quality is free, Quality without tears, Let's talk Quality, and Leading: The art of becoming an executive. Crosby originated the concept of zero defects.


1979: Philip Crosby started the management consulting company Philip Crosby Associates, Inc.

1979: Crosby published his first business book; Quality Is Free.

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  • Four Absolutes of Quality

    Crosby's response to the quality crisis was the principle of "doing it right the first time" (DIRFT). He also included four major principles:

    The First Absolute

    The definition of quality is conformance to requirements (not as goodness)

    The Second Absolute

    The system of quality is prevention (not appraisal)

    The Third Absolute

    The performance standard is zero defects (not "that's close enough").

    The Fourth Absolute

    The measurement of quality is the price of nonconformance (not indexes)

    The Crosby Vaccine

    In the Crosby style, the "Vaccine" is explained as medicine for management to prevent poor quality. It is in five sections that cover the requirements of Total Quality Management.


    Treat quality seriously throughout the whole business organization from top to bottom. The company's future will be judged on its performance on quality.


    Appropriate measures and systems should be put in place for quality costs, education, quality, performance, review, improvement and customer satisfaction.


    The communication systems are of paramount importance to communicate requirements and specifications and improvement opportunities around the organization. Customers and operators know what needs to be put in place to improve, and listening to them will give you the edge.


    Work with and develop suppliers. Processes should be capable, and improvement culture should be the norm.


    Policies must be clear and consistent throughout the business.

    The Fourteen Steps to Quality Improvement

    1. Management Commitment

    Make it clear that management is committed to quality.

    2. Quality Improvement Teams

    Form Quality Improvement Teams with senior representatives from each department.

    3. Measure Processes

    Measure processes to determine where current and potential quality problems lie.

    4. Cost of Quality

    Evaluate the cost of quality and explain its use as a management tool.

    5. Quality Awareness

    Raise the quality awareness and personal concern of all employees.

    6. Correct Problems

    Take actions to correct problems identified through previous steps.

    7. Monitor Progress

    Establish progress monitoring for the improvement process.

    8. Train Supervisors

    Train supervisors to actively carry out their part of the quality improvement program.

    9. Zero Defects Day

    Hold a Zero Defects Day to reaffirm management commitment.

    10. Establish Improvement Goals

    Encourage individuals to establish improvement goals for themselves and their group.

    11. Remove Fear

    Encourage employees to tell management about obstacles to improving quality.

    12. Recognize

    Recognize and appreciate those who participate.

    13. Quality Councils

    Establish Quality Councils to communicate on a regular basis.

    14. Repeat the Cycle

    Do it all over again to emphasize that the quality improvement process never ends.

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