Philip Crosby: Biography And Contributions To Quality

Philip Crosby (1926-2001) was an American businessman, pioneering his contributions on the theories and practices of quality and administrative management. He was the author of works related to commercial and industrial areas.

In the projects and companies in which he was involved, he was considered a fundamental piece to improve quality conditions. This American is credited with the conception and implementation of the zero defects philosophy, considered one of his main contributions to the business and administrative world.

In the same way, it developed another series of guidelines and precepts that, applied to a productive organization, allowed to obtain a higher level of quality at a lower cost.

His high level of theoretical and practical knowledge about quality control and management have earned him a place among the great names who have approached this area and left an important legacy.

Today, his work is continued through the company he founded in life, Philip Crosby Associates, a Capability Group company.


Philip Bayard Crosby was born in 1926, in the state of Virginia, and died in North Carolina in 2011, at the age of 75.

It was within the United States where he spent his life and practiced most of his career, working for large North American companies.

During his youth he served in the United States Navy, participating in World War II and the Korean War. During the years between the two conflicts, she obtained a medical degree from an Ohio university.

He began working in the quality management area from the 1950s on. First, he worked in medical institutions and organizations, where he dedicated himself to renewing and innovating the existing administrative parameters in such organizations.

Around the 1960s, Philip Crosby came to the Martin-Marietta company, where he worked as a quality engineer.

It was in this organization that Crosby developed his philosophy of zero defects. The last stage of his career as an employee is carried out in the ranks of the ITT company, where he worked as a corporate vice president for almost 15 years, until the late 70s.

After these stages, Crosby already had a reputation within his country and internationally, thanks to the effective results that his techniques on quality management yielded.

In the 1980s, he decided to found his own company, Philip Crosby Associates, where he would practice the rest of his career as a private consultant.

Main contributions

1- Basic principles about quality

Like other authors and entrepreneurs in the area, Crosby spoke and generated his own principles about what quality is and how it is possible to maximize the level of quality of a product in the business and industrial fields.

For Crosby, the quality of a product is defined according to its ability to satisfy the real needs of a consumer, taking into account the value of the latter as the final gear of a production and marketing process.

The management and correct administration of the organizational and production levels can minimize, or even eradicate, the number of errors that can be committed.

Finally, Crosby emphasizes that the level of quality is measured according to the degree of dissatisfaction that it can generate in the consumer.

2- Zero defects philosophy

The zero defects proposal developed by Crosby can be synthesized by maxims that start from his own words.

For Crosby, the success and maintenance of a good level of quality lies in doing things right from the first moment, even going so far as to use consumer satisfaction as a measure value to guarantee effectiveness.

Crosby indicates that “quality does not cost. It’s not a gift but it’s free. What costs money are the things that have no quality: all the actions that result from not doing things right the first time.

Crosby synthesizes its philosophy of zero defects as a preventive measure, whose main path is to “get it right the first time”, which in itself would be the solution to any eventuality or failure that may arise.

The Crosby philosophy does not focus on technical processes applicable in the different departments of the company, but on the organizational systematization of all levels to guarantee effectiveness and quality.

3- Absolutes of quality

In quality management, Crosby handles four main maxims that he calls absolute, present in any production process that seeks to be considered effective.

The first arises from the principle of zero defects: get it right the first time. This means supplying the requirements and resources necessary to achieve quality improvement at all levels.

The second determines that prevention is a guarantor of quality. The production processes should not be worked in order to solve errors that arise, but rather to ensure that they do not even have to manifest themselves.

The detection and solution of errors does nothing but generate more expenses for the company, dispersing the attention at the organizational level and violating quality.

The third absolute places Crosby’s philosophy as the only valid standard to measure and guarantee organizational effectiveness and the final level of quality.

Crosby states that a system that is based on the philosophy of zero defects meets the necessary requirements to individually measure the performance of its various internal levels.

Quality is measured by the cost of doing things wrong. This gives way to Crosby’s fourth maxim, which takes quality costs as the only valid measure that an organization should consider to seek continuous improvement.


  1. Alvarado, B., & Rivas, G. (2006). Philip Crosby. Caracas: Central University of Venezuela.
  2. Crosby, P. (1985). Quality Without Tears.
  3. Philip Crosby Associates. (sf). Biography . Obtained from Philip Crosby Associates:
  4. Saxon, W. (August 22, 2001). Philip Crosby, 75, Developer Of the Zero-Defects Concept. The New York Times .

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