Philip Crosby Biography
Philip Bayard “Phil” Crosby (June 18, 1926 – August 18, 2001) was a businessman and author who contributed to management theory and quality management practices. His birthplace was in Wheeling, West Virginia, United States. His father induced him to study pediatrics, although he never graduated. To make some money, Crosby starts working in a manufacturing plant. As he was gaining experience, he learned how to create methods to prevent problems in the factory. In 1952, he obtained a position as a technician at the Crosley Corporation in Richmond, Indiana.
From 1957 to 1965 he served for the Martin Corporation, where he worked as quality control manager in the Pershing missile project. From then on, he began to have positions related to quality control in various companies in North America. For instance, from 1965 to 1979 he was director of quality and vice president at the ITT company. In 1979, based on all the experience he had acquired over the years, he decided to found Philip Crosby Associates (PCA) based in Winter Park, Florida. After ten years it became an organization with 300 employees around the world and with $80 million dollars in profits.
The key to PCA success was the management, which was influenced by Crosby, and established a preventive culture in order to avoid complicated situations and produce negative, and perhaps irreversible, effects on the company. PCA generated many admirers and, in short time, several companies like GM, Chrysler, Motorola, Xerox, and hundreds of corporations around the world came to PCA and Crosby to learn about Quality Management and implement it.
Crosby balanced quality management with prevention. Crosby’s vision did not embrace the inspection, experimentation, supervision and other non-preventive techniques. With the implementation of prevention, he tried to justify and verify his idea of ”zero defects”. Crosby argued that if prevention is properly executed there are no grounds to commit errors or defects in any product or service.
“Zero defects” is not a slogan, It constitutes a performance standard. Scholars estimate that in the sixties, several Japanese companies applied the principle of “zero defects”, as a technical tool, but the responsibility of the implementation fell on the company’s management. Unlike the United States where the responsibility fell on the worker.
In 1991, Crosby sells PCA in order to dedicate himself to the creation of Career IV, Inc. A company dedicated to dictate conferences and seminars to future executives. The vision of Career IV was to provide key knowledge about quality control and everything related to it and to future executives, which would bring great effects on companies in North America.
In 1997, Crosby would purchase the assets of PCA, which would give him the possibility to establish Philip Crosby Associates II, Inc. Philip Crosby Associates II was a center where he would teach in the field of quality. This reached 20 countries around the world and would gather clients from multinationals or small manufacturing and service companies.
Although he was a man dedicated to his companies, Philip Crosby spent a lot of time with his family. They lived in Winter Park, Florida, with his wife Peggy. In the summertime, they would spend time at their other property located in Highlands, North Carolina.
In the beginning of 1998, he published his autobiography “Quality and Me”. The next year, he would publish “The Reliable Organization”.
In his texts or interventions, he affirmed that there were certain fundamental tasks to guarantee success in quality such as commitment to quality, each department must be committed to improving quality, determining current and potential quality problems, evaluating in a timely manner the cost of quality, encourage the personal interest of all employees for quality, take concrete action to fix problems, institute a commission for the program “zero defects”, generate spaces where staff can express to the management the obstacles faced in the development of their improvement goals, and give recognition to the most active members.
To sum up, Crosby states that quality is the result of the prevention processes. This is the method to prevent the business illness and prevent its premature demise. In that way, prevention is achieved through exercises such as training, discipline, example, and leadership, among other things. These should impact all the departments of the company.
On the other hand, Crosby’s theories state that quality must be achieved through the compliance with requirements. In the quality, standard errors should not be tolerated. Errors should not be tolerated in financial management or production, to ensure success.
Crosby was a great driver of business and its development in North America. His life ended on August 18, 2001, while he was with his family in Asheville, North Carolina, United States. Crosby died due to a respiratory failure.