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A review of Dr Joseph Juran’s autobiography: “Architect of Quality”

“Architect of Quality”[1] is the autobiography of Dr Joseph Juran. Juran’s autobiography is the moving story of a Romanian immigrant to the USA who rose from poverty to being a world leader in quality and receiving honours from the Emperor of Japan and the President of the USA. Those of us who work in quality have much to learn from him.

Juran worked at Bell Telephones Hawthorne works at the same time as Walter Shewhart was working there and while W. Edwards Deming was an intern there. That three of the giants of quality were working at the same plant at the same time has always seemed remarkable to me. I learned from “Architect of Quality” that this occurred when Bell Telephones were building the first national telephone system for the United States of America. Bell Telephones Hawthorne plant would, at that time, have been the electronics hub for the USA. It would seem that these three giants all came to work at the plant due to the scale of the engineering task that Bell Telephones were undertaking. 

Bell Telephones used statistics to develop their systems. Juran describes how Walter Shewhart invented Control Charts at Bell Telephones as a way to improve quality and how the use of statistics at Bell Telephones led to the creation of Statistical Quality Control. 

Juran found his knowledge of mathematics extremely valuable in several different ways. There is an entertaining section in the book where he describes how he used his knowledge of mathematics to win on roulette tables that were run by Al Capone. 

Writing was important to Juran and he describes how he came to start to write editions of Juran’s Quality Control Handbook. The Handbook is a reference book for all who are involved in quality, and each edition of the Handbook has sold tens of thousands of copies. I have three editions of the Handbook and find them to be useful books to consult when I want to consider an issue more deeply. 

He, along with W. Edwards Deming, helped to rebuild the Japanese economy after World War Two and in his autobiography he describes the lectures and courses he gave in Japan. He also writes about Deming’s work in Japan. Lloyd Dobyns and Clare Crawford-Mason’s overview of Juran and Deming’s work is more valuable because it is written from the viewpoint of a third party who is trying to understand the work of the two men[2].

Universal methods were something that interested Juran. This interest came from his knowledge of mathematics. He describes how this led to him creating universal methods in management planning and control. 

If you work in “quality” then I would recommend this book to you and would also recommend exploring Juran’s work.

References:

[1] Architect of Quality : The Autobiography of Dr. Joseph M. Juran by Dr Joseph Juran

[2] Quality or Else by Lloyd Dobyns and Clare Crawford-Mason

Resources about Dr Joseph Juran:

Web pages:

YouTube

Books

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Published by Mike Harris

Mike has been working in testing for 20 years and is currently the lone tester for Geckoboard. He has been a Test Lead and has also worked as a part of waterfall, lean and agile teams. He is also Programme Secretary of BCS SIGiST. Mike has a B.Sc.(HONS) from Middlesex University and is an Associate of the University of Hertfordshire. He has set up and led a Testing Community of Practice and been part of a successful agile transition. He is Co-Programme Chair of the British Computer Society’s Specialist Interest Group in Software Testing. He also contributed to the e-book Testing Stories and has had articles published by the Ministry of Testing. Follow Mike on Twitter: @TestAndAnalysis

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