Zero Defects

Zero Defects means no inspectionsThis article is presented as part of an overview of the quality guru’s of the 1980’s. Zero Defects was a key phrase develop by Mr. Philip Crosby and presented by Philip Crosby Associates. Reading “Quality Is Free”, “Quality Without Tears”, and “Quality Without Pain” are helpful in understanding how Mr. Crosby developed his philosophy and encouraged others to use it. For more information about Philip Crosby Associates, go to

How does Zero Defects Relate to Conformance to Customer Requirements?

Much of the negative comments applied to the philosophy of Mr. Philip Crosby was a result of taking the term “Zero Defects” out of context. To understand Zero Defects a person must first accept that “conformance to customer requirements” constitutes an acceptable quality level. Therefore the goal is to meet the customer requirements 100% of the time.

Zero Defects is a Goal

It must also be noted that the goal is 100% conformance to customer requirements. To achieve that goal it may first be necessary to meet three sigma and then four sigma and then six sigma. Goals must be set using the cost of quality to determine how to apply resources. If one process is at a 6 sigma performance relative to meeting customer requirements and another equally utilized process is at 2 sigma performance, then scarce resources must be applied to the poorer performing process first.

The Effort to Reach Zero Defect Must Be Continuous

A basic tenet of Mr. Crosby’s philosophy was that improvement is a never ending cycle. This idea is also promoted by Dr. W. Edwards Deming, Dr. Joseph Juran and ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. The effort is continuous and never ending in order to stay in business, provide jobs and make a profit. So simple.