The Absolutes of Quality

Mr. Philip Crosby created a chart titled “The Absolutes of Quality”.

1980’s Conventional Wisdom




Definition of quality

Conformance to requirements

System to create quality


Quality levels 

Performance Standard

Zero defects

Indexes or process levels 


Price of Non-conformance


Definition of Quality

In the 1980’s “quality” was more of a feeling then a measureable element. Quality was a superior product as far as features. It might be a nicer finish to a piece of furniture or an accessory on a car. The idea that quality was conformance to requirements was a radical change. With the advent of ISO 9001, meeting the customer requirements became a “given” as the definition for quality.

Sorting bad product from good

System to Create Quality

Prevention is the current system prosperous companies use to produce a product the conforms to customer requirements. The majority of executives and managers understand the concept that the system must create 100% conforming product. Not that long ago, the method of producing a quality product was t o make a bunch of widgets and sort out the defective parts. Yes there was an army of inspectors at every plant. There was even a television ad for a brand of underwear that told people it wasn’t a quality product until inspector 12 said it was.

Quality Performance Standard

Of course 100% inspection was cost prohibitive so companies used inspection tables. The most well known was MIL-STD 105. First the manufacturer and the customer agreed as to the acceptable percentage of defects in the shipment. They would use the MIL STD 105 to determine a samples size and how many defects they could find and still ship the product. Now if current companies found a single defect in a sample, the product would be quarantined, a root cause analysis started, and a corrective and preventive action implemented.

Measurement of Quality

Measuring the Cost of Quality was unheard of in the 1980’s. Inspection and scrap were a cost of doing business and were built into the price of the product. Today, most companies track both the cost of conformance and the cost of non-conformance. If they are following ISO 9001 they also have a system to generation projects to reduce the total cost of quality.

Quality Today

So here is a question: Does your company track the cost of quality?