QUALITY PROGRESS I MAY 2004 I 25
100 YearsOf Juranby Debbie Phillips-Donaldson, editor
es witnessed two world wars, numerousother military conflicts, the rise (and fall) ofcountless new inventions, humans first
space explorations and 17 U.S. presidents. Hes sur-vived anti-Semitism, poverty, emigration, the child-hood loss of his mother and the Great Depression.
Living through 100 years of such profound changesand events would be noteworthy enough. But JosephM. Juran has been much more than just a casualobserver. He has participated vigorously in and con-tributed extensively to the growth of industry, societyandperhaps most importantly to usquality.
Hard Work From an Early Age Jurans could be considered a classic Horatio Alger
story. Born in Romania on Dec. 24, 1904, he emigratedto Minneapolis with his family in 1912 in hope ofescaping poverty and the threat of violence againstJews. Unfortunately, it took a while for the familysfinancial fortunes to improve, especially after thedeath of Jurans mother in 1920 from tuberculosis.
From almost the moment he arrived in the UnitedStates, Juran, along with his siblings, worked to aug-ment the familys income. In his memoirs, Architect ofQuality, Juran estimates he held 16 jobs during 12years in Minneapoliseverything from newspaperhawker to grocery clerk to bookkeeper to janitor towarehouse bundle boy. He worked for a printer,the state Prohibition Committee and BurlingtonRailroad.
Though child labor typically has a negative con-notation, Juran believes it helped his siblings andhim in many ways:
We grew up with no fear of long hours or hardwork. We learned to seek out opportunities and touse ingenuity to gain from them. We accepted theresponsibility for building our own safety nets. Byenduring the heat of the fiery furnace, we acquireda work ethic that served us well for the rest of ourlives.1
Juran also found all his work experiences educa-tional. And despite his work schedule, he neverneglected his formal education, which his parents
GURUS OF QUALITY
In 50 WordsOr Less
Joseph M. Jurans life story includes overcoming
many obstacles to become one of qualitys most
influential pioneers and leaders.
As he approaches his 100th birthday, he shares
through his memoirs and in an exclusive interview
insights and highlights from his long, productive
career, plus advice for quality professionals.
strongly believed in and required all their childrento pursue. Juran excelled in elementary and highschool, especially in math, and was usually twoyears ahead of other children his age.
Eventually the family fortunes improved, andJuran was able to direct his earnings into a savingsaccount for higher education. In 1920 he enrolled inthe University of Minnesota, majoring in electricalengineeringthe first of his family to attend college.
Though funding this education remained a pre-carious balancing act each year, Juran found hisbiggest challenge was maintaining even a C gradeaverage. Because good grades had come so easily to
him during his earlier schooling, he had neverlearned to study, and he continued to work through-out college. He also discovered extracurricular activ-ities such as chesswhich developed into a lifelongpassionand the Reserve Officers Training Corps(ROTC), which he saw as an opportunity to servehis adopted country. (It didnt hurt that he receiveda warm army overcoat as a bonus for signing up.)
Despite the distractions, Juran made it to gradua-tion, when he was recruited by six companies. Hereceived offers from threeGeneral Electric, WesternUnion and Western Electric, part of the Bell system.
Intrigued by the early success of the telephone indus-try, he accepted the Western Electric offer to becomean engineer at the Hawthorne manufacturing plant inCicero, IL. His starting salary was $27 a week.
Assigned to QualityAt the age of 20, Juran embarked upon a career
that was to last more than 70 years. At first, he hadno idea it would be in quality. After a week of ori-entation training at Western Electric, he was as-signed, perhaps randomly, to the inspection branchof the Hawthorne plant.
From that rather unremarkable beginning,Jurans career would evolve to encompass:
Serving in one of the first inspection statisticaldepartments in industry.
Being promoted to a managerial position, thento a division chief, at the age of 24.
Earning a law degree (as a backup employ-ment alternative during the Depression).
Moving to Western Electric/AT&Ts headquar-ters to work in corporate engineering.
Serving in the statistics, requisitions, accountsand control sections of the Lend-LeaseAdministration, which procured and leasedarms, equipment and supplies to World War IIAllies.
Teaching industrial engineering at New YorkUniversity as professor and department chair.
Becoming a managementthen quality man-agementconsultant, lecturer, author andleader with international influence.
Creating a corporation (the Juran Institute,now celebrating its 25th year) and nonprofitorganization (the Juran Foundation) to carryon his work.
In many ways, Jurans life and career have mir-rored world events throughout the 20th century.For example, he has described the period fromJune 1928, when his first child was born, to June1929, just before the Depression, as the happiest 12months of his life.
During a recent interview, Juran explained thatbesides being enchanted by and in awe of the miracle
26 I MAY 2004 I www.asq.org
100 Years of Juran
Born inBraila, Romania.
Emigrated with family to Minneapolis.
Held first job (of 16 heldbefore age 20), sellingMinneapolis Tribune atstreetcar stop.
Became naturalized U.S. citizen.
Published for first time,as chess columnist forMinneapolis Star.
Graduated fromUniversity ofMinnesota withbachelors degreein electrical engi-neering (first infamily to attendand graduate fromcollege).
Served as secondlieutenant in the U.S.Army Signal CorpsReserve, SignalIntelligence Division,performing crypt-analysis; later pro-moted to captain.
Joined WesternElectrics new inspec-tion statistical depart-ment, one of the firstin industrial history.
Married Sadie Shapiro.The couple had four chil-dren and, eventually,numerous grandchildrenand great-grandchildren.
Mr. and Mrs. Juran: Juran met Sadie Shapiro in1924; they married two years later and will celebrate
their 78th anniversary in June. Here they appear in their
high school graduation photos.
QUALITY PROGRESS I MAY 2004 I 27
of birth, he and his wife, Sadie, were enjoying a timeof benevolence. The world was benign, he added.They were experiencing exciting inventions, such asthe telephone, and his career at Western Electric wasvery positive. He was moving up in the hierarchyinto positions of influence. It was a time of peace;our hopes were being fulfilled, he continued. It waspre-Depression, pre that mess in Europe [the rise ofthe Nazis and World War II], and we were innocents.Every decade after that had trouble.2
Yet Juran always found ways to combat the trou-ble, such as using his skills and experience in sta-tistical analysis and engineering to improvepurchasing, budgeting and paperwork gridlock forLend-Lease. He also participated in extra activitiesand organizations to improve management withinthe U.S. government in general.
After the war, he turned his passion for manage-ment into a way to help companies and studentscope with the explosive growth of U.S. industryand the economy. That help quickly extended tocompanies in other countriesmost notablyJapanalso experiencing postwar challenges.
Though Jurans career change from the corpo-rate and government worlds to teaching and free-lance work benefited many organizations andquality professionals, his reasons for the switchwere not all altruistic. At both Western Electricand Lend-Lease, he had impressed peers andsuperiors alike with his sharp mind and technicalskills but had caused problems with his sharptongue and inability to understand and accept theneeds of others. Thus, he theorized, I am just tooindividualistic to fit into large organizations.3
While he would later decide he was off base, hisfaulty original conclusion led him headlong into afocus on managing for quality, a concept heexpanded beyond purely technical elements toinclude the all-important human ones.
The Human DimensionAdding the human dimension to quality is one of
the achievements for which Juran is most widelycredited. Hes not sure he deserves that credit,
though he acknowledges he helped broaden qualityfrom a narrow statistical field to one encompassingmanagement. During his career, he said, he ran intomany human relations problems, not only his ownbut ones among other people. To him, those prob-lems all had one root cause: resistance to change or,as he also has called it, cultural resistance.
After so many years of struggling to work wellwith othersthen seeing many of the same issuesamong managers and employees of his clientshisdiscovery of the source, he said, was a flash of illu-mination. It came in 1956 while reading MargaretMeads book Cultural Patterns and Technical Change,which described resistance encountered by UnitedNations teams trying to improve conditions indeveloping countries. Mead attributed the resis-tance to a clash between two cultures.4
Juran immediately saw parallels in business,such as clashes between management and employ-ees or situations in which changes he had recom-mended were rejected by clients for no logicalreason. He wrote about his revelation in a paper,then later expanded on his thinking in his bookManag