Armand V. Feigenbaum is an American quality specialist who devised the concept of Total Quality Control (TQC). This concept later became the foundation stone of the stream of TQM (Total Quality Management).
Early Life, Work & Contributions
Armand V. Feigenbaum earned his master’s and doctorate degrees from MIT. During his doctoral studies, he started writing his book “Total Quality Control.” From 1958 to 1968, he served as the Director of Manufacturing Operations at General Electric.
In 1968, he founded General Systems Company at Massachusetts, which was mainly operational into the field of defining Business Operating Systems for companies. Dr. Feigenbaum shared his concepts and processes through a number of articles, books, and interviews.
Today, he is one of the most revered personalities in the field of quality and process improvement. His name cannot be missed in any discussion of the concept of total quality. He also served as the president of prestigious societies such as ASQ (American Society for Quality) and IAQ (International Academy for Quality). He passed away at an age of 94.
Approach to Quality and Six Sigma: Process Improvement
Armand V. Feigenbaum is most known for his major contributions in the field of quality and Six Sigma techniques, helping improve processes through his innovative strategies.
- Total Quality Control: A system where quality development, maintenance, and improvement are effectively integrated to ensure production and service at considerably lower costs. This ultimately leads to higher customer satisfaction, which is so critical for all businesses.
According to Feigenbaum, it is imperative to consider a few elements of quality to enable complete customer focus, i.e. both internally and externally.
- Firstly, quality should be understood from the customer’s perception, not from the organization’s.
- Secondly, quality and cost should not be viewed as different, but the same.
- Thirdly, both individual and team commitment are needed for ensuring quality. Quality should be permanently embedded as a part of process improvement. Innovation and quality are interrelated and mutually benefitting.
- Hidden Plant: Fiegenbaum stated that almost 15% to 40% of an organization’s capacity is wasted by not getting the things right as they should be. He explained that the cost of quality can be understood under two heads: the cost of getting the things right and the cost of not getting them right.
Even today, most organizations fail to understand that huge wastes on account of this major shortcoming. With what is called this hidden factory, it is a waste to establish big change interventions like restructuring or downsizing.
- Quality Accountability: Fiegenbaum stressed that quality is a universal concept and cannot be restricted to a department or individual.
Each and every process and functional area is responsible and accountable for ensuring quality control in the organization. Quality in an organization needs to be managed actively and has to be made visible at the higher levels of management.
- Quality Costs: Fiegenbaum described the concept of quality costs in an article in HBR (Harvard Business Review) in 1956. He stated that it is important to quantify the total cost of quality as a part of process improvement.
He challenged the conventional belief that higher costs are incurred in order to deliver higher quality (in buying better quality machines or materials or hiring expensive labor). He was of the opinion that the classification of quality-related entries in a company’s ledger would enable business managers and quality experts to evaluate decisions based on improvement in costs and the enhancement of profit.
He further identified the areas of cost control (prevention and appraisal costs) and the areas of failure of cost control (internal and external failure costs).
Armand Fiegenbaum will always be remembered for his invaluable contributions to the field of quality control and management. His works on quality costs and the hidden plant have paved the way for business organizations to identify the reasons for cost inefficiency and quality failures.
His principles in the areas of cost control and quality improvement are the guiding light for companies to build in processes with embedded quality systems in order to ensure higher customer satisfaction and value.