The Six Stage of Change or the 6 C’s

This article is presented as part of an overview of the quality guru’s of the 1980’s. The Six stages of change also known as the 6 C’s was 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

As quality improves cost and delivery time decreases

The Six Stages or 6 C’s of Implementing a Quality Improvement Process

According to Mr. Philip Crosby, there are six stages of change that every company goes through if it is to have a real and viable quality improvement process. Mr. Crosby taught the six C’s must be met if managers, particularly senior level managers, are going to deal with the changing attitudes toward quality. The six C’s are comprehension, commitment, competence, communication, correction, continuance.

6 C’s Stage 1 – Comprehension

Comprehension is the understanding of the four 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


Initially comprehension must begin at the management level and then as the quality improvement process is implemented, all employees must learn that quality is definable, measurable and manageable.


6 C’s Stage 2 – Commitment

Once comprehension occurs management must define a quality policy and quality teams must be initiated. Once top management displays their commitment all employees will join in. Everyone must accept zero defects as their personal performance standard.

6 C’s Stage 3 – Competence

Competence means management has learned to apply the four absolutes in a routine manner. There is a method and a plan for quality improvement and this is understood by and participated in by everyone.

6 C’s Stage 4 – Communication

Communications is not only the most important of the 6 C’s but the most neglected. If a close look is taken at ISO 9001 its ability to be used as a communication tool becomes clear. Management must clearly communicate successes and tools used to create quality improvement and recognize those who contributed to the change.

6 C’s Stage 5 – Correction

As Dr. Deming also said, a culture of change must occur. Most attempts at correction fail because they focus on symptoms or are limited to specific situations. This leads to repetitive failures (non-conformances). Correction is the implementation of permanent preventive measures.

6 C’s Stage 6 – Continuance

Quality must be the first among equals of cost and schedule and quality. Improving quality will reduce costs and improve on-time delivery. Therefore the quality improvement process must become part of the context and systems of the company. Do It Right the First Time must become a tenet of every employee.