Philip Crosby Dies at 75


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‘Quality Is Free’ legend 
Philip Crosby dies at 75

By Joseph F. McKenna
Editor in Chief

Philip B. Crosby, who championed the zero-defects concept and preached that “quality is free,” has joined the ranks of such quality legends as Dr. W. Edwards Deming. Crosby, 75, died at a hospital in Ashville, NC, on August 19.

Crosby, whose home and worldwide consulting firm were in Winter Park, FL, died of complications of cancer, according to press reports.

A prolific writer, the author of the seminal Quality Is Free gained the attention of mainstream manufacturing executives with his straightforward, real-world approach to continuous improvement. In essence, he declared, quality is “conformance to requirements.”

The former assembly line worker from Wheeling, WV, spoke in terms easily understandable by his clients, which included Xerox, Chrysler, Motorola and General Motors. In his 1979 classic, he disabused his readers regarding quality as “intangible and therefore not measurable.”

“In fact,” Crosby insisted, “quality is precisely measurable by the oldest and most respected of measurements—cold hard cash.”

Philip Bayard Crosby attended the now Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH, took a degree in foot surgery from the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine in 1949 and served as a Navy corpsman.

From the assembly line, he moved to the post of quality manager at the Martin Marietta plant in Orlando, FL. From 1965 to 1979, he was a vice president at International Telephone and Telegraph. In 1979, he started his own business, Philip Crosby Associates Inc.

Over the years, Crosby promoted his concept of Zero Defects, a performance standard he explained with an almost lighthearted touch in his 1984 book, Quality Without Tears.

“The question must to whether people have a built-in defect ratio,” he wrote. “Do they always make the same percentage of errors in each thing they do? Like cashing their paycheck, for instance. Can we assume that a person who errs in five percent of their industrial activities will be shortchanged on five percent of the check they cash each year? Will they go to the wrong house several times each month?

“If these assumptions are wrong, then errors must be a function of the importance that a person places on specific things,” he continued. “People are more careful about one act than another....Mistakes are caused by two factors: lack of knowledge and lack of attention. Knowledge can be measured and deficiencies corrected through tried-and-true means. Lack of attention must be corrected by the person himself or herself, through an acute reappraisal of his or her moral values.”

In his personal life, Crosby was known as a generous and compassionate man. “He was all those nice things people say and more,” said daughter Phylis Crosby-Wright, Greenback, TN. “He revolutionized the business world. He was a Christian, and we believe he is going to an eternal home.”

Crosby also leaves his wife, Peggy Davis Crosby; son, Philip Jr.; daughter Leyla, Oviedo, FL; six grandchildren; and his brother, David, Glen Ellyn, IL, president of a quality software company and a contributor to this month’s Gaging Supplement.

A prolific writer, the author of the seminal Quality Is Free gained the attention of mainstream manufacturing executives with his straightforward, real-world approach to continuous improvement. In essence, he declared, quality is ‘conformance to requirements.’

Top economic adviser sees slowdown, not recession

Old Father Hubbard says the cupboard is not bare. Repeat, not bare.

Glenn Hubbard, chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, said recently that the United States is in a “growth slowdown,” not an “economic recession.”

And he is optimistic that President Bush’s economic policies, beginning with the tax cut recently passed by Congress, will lead to future growth in the American economy.

“I think it’s fair to say at the moment that the U.S. is in the midst of a growth slowdown and I do not think the United States economy is in a recession but I think it is in a growth slowdown,” he said at a Cato Institute tax policy forum in Washington.

According to Conservative News Service (CNS), Hubbard called the present economic situation a “tale of two economies.”

“One economy is the consumer economy that has held up reasonably well. Consumer spending has been quite resilient especially given recent downturns in household net worth and concerns about the labor market,” said Hubbard. The other economy, he continued, is an “investment economy” that is doing “much more poorly” than the consumer economy.

“The downturn in investment in the United States isn’t a high-tech downturn, it’s an investment downturn. An investment decline has most prominently affected manufacturers. The pain is being felt in the current growth slowdown largely but not exclusively in the manufacturing sector, where we’ve seen robust industrial production growth turn down around the middle of last year, toward a slowdown today,” Hubbard said.

“Contributing to that manufacturing slowdown is the decline in the value of the American dollar and the weakness of America’s trading partners in Japan and Europe,” CNS reported.


I remember well his "Zero Defects" program that was put in place at the Defense Construction Supply Center in Columbus ,Ohio.
His teaching rechniques and straight forward approach to meeting customer equirements is one of the reasons I returned to the quality profession.
He will be missed , but not forgotten.


I recently moved from Asheville, NC, and was back up attending the funeral of a friend the week Mr. Crosby died in the hospital there.

I started my career in manufacturing on the shop floor, as I'm sure many other quality professionals have. My first formal training in quality were the "Quality Education System" and the "Quality Improvement Program" at Philip Crosby's Quality College in Winter Park, FL. That was a few years ago, and I still reference his books, "Quality Without Tears" and "Quality Is Free" often. Although I was slow to understand his concepts of "zero defects", I now use his teachings on quality as a standard of comparison. We certainly have lost a great leader in the quality profession, but I believe his philosophy will live for many years to come.

Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!
Personally, I found his position on the topic of Leadership to be his best contribution. I borrow from his book, "The Absolutes of Leadership" quite often and expanded on his definition of the leadership type of "Caretaker" by creating to what I refer as the "Caretaker's Syndrome" (a mix of Crosby and Barker).

It is sad when the Quality Community loses such a pioneer. The loss will be felt for years to come.



The passing of Crosby was a heartfelt and tearful loss for all of these young men and woman, most of whom are attending high school and college. Tears were shed as members of both circles posted condolence messages and then stood up before their computers in various parts of the world simultaneously and observed 30 seconds of silence.

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