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Joseph Juran

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Dr. Joseph Moses Juran, (born December 24, 1904 - February 28, 2008), was an industrial engineer and philanthropist.

Juran was known as a business and industrial quality "guru," while making significant contributions to management theory, human resource management and consulting as well. He wrote several books, and is known worldwide as one of the most important 20th century thinkers in quality management.

Early Life

Juran was born in 1904 in Braila, Romania and later lived in Gura Humorului. In 1912 he immigrated to the United States with his family.

In 1924, with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering (he would later earn a law degree), Juran joined Western Electric at the Hawthorne manufacturing plant. His first duty was in the inspection branch. Juran was promoted to a managerial position (1928) and the following year division chief (1929). He would publish his first quality related article in Mechanical Engineering in 1935. In 1937 would soon move to Western Electric/AT&T's headquarters in New York


After World War Two, Japan was experiencing a crisis in product quality. Japanese goods were thought to be cheap, easily broken and in general extremely poor quality. The Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers (JUSE) recognized these issues and invited Juran to Japan in 1954. Working independently of W. Edwards Deming (who focused on the use of statistical quality control), Juran - who focused on managing for quality - went to Japan and started courses in Quality Management. The training started with top and middle management.

The idea that top and middle management need training found resistance in the United States. For Japan, it would take some 20 years for the training to pay off. In the 1970's Japanese products begin to be seen as the leaders in quality. This would spark a crisis in United States quality in the 1980's.

Pareto Principle

It was in 1941 that Juran discovered the work of Vilfredo Pareto. Juran would expand the Pareto analysis to quality issues (e.g. 80% of a problem is caused by 20% of the causes). Also know as the vital few and the useful many.

Contribution to Management

When he began his career in the 1920's the principle focus in quality management was on evaluation of the manufactured product's quality. The tools used were from the Bell system of sampling inspection plans (tables), and the Shewhart control charts. The ideas of Frederick Winslow Taylor dominated. Juran is widely credited for adding the human dimension to quality. He pushed for the education and training of managers. For Juran, human relations problems were the problem to isolate. Resistance to change - or in Juran's terms cultural resistance - was the root cause of quality issues.

Juran credits Margaret Mead's book Cultural Patterns and Technical Change illuminating the core problem in reforming business quality. Juran wrote (published 1964) Managerial Breakthrough outlining the issue.

In 1966 Juran promoted the Japanese idea of Quality Circles.

Developed the "Juran's trilogy" an approach to cross functional management that is composed of three managerial processes: planning, control, and improvement.

In 1979 he founded the Juran Institute which is essentially a money machine whose lawyers (Business Law Group LLC of Bethel, CT) are busy hounding anyone (including for using the the phrase "Juran Trilology" or anything that they see that doesn't suit them.

Published Works

  • Juran's Quality Control Handbook (1951) a landmark guide to quality tools and ideas.
  • Planning and Practices in Quality Control published by Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers, in Japanese, a collection of Juran's 1954 lectures.
  • Managerial Breakthroughs, 1964
  • Quality By Design, The Free Press , 1992
  • Juran's Leadership for Quality, An Executive Handook, N.Y Freepress, 1989
  • A History of Managing for Quality,
  • Architect of Quality, McGraw-Hill, 2003 , his autobiography.

Also see: Juran