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What are the top five TQM books you would recommend?

I have often been asked “what books should we read on quality?” People may have this question for a range of reasons. They may actually not know where to start. I suspect the question also allows many people to deflect their decision to study to someone else. Since I was never told what book to study I never started! You get the point.

For the people who seriously asked what to read, I have often had a general answer. Read Juran, Deming, and maybe Crosby. I knew the answer wasn’t enough. As I became more active with ASQ work in India this question kept popping up more frequently than earlier. I had to do something about it.

So, motivated by repeated questioning and my misplaced confidence that I know something about quality books, I finally set out to create a list. Like most tasks this was easier done when it wasn’t started. As I set out preparing a list I was at once accosted by my lack of knowledge and a sudden realization of the futility of such a list.

After a lot of scribbles, here’s what I came up with.

1. Quality Planning and Analysis - J M Juran and Frank Gryna
2. Managerial Breakthrough - J M Juran
3. Total Quality Control - A V Fiegenbaum
4. The Six Sigma Way - Peter Pande and others
5. Quality is Free - Phil Crosby

While, I could add a disclaimer that these books are not in any specific order, I must admit I think they are in order of relevance. Also, I feel these are the ones a quality professional must read.

So why do they make my list?

Quality Planning and Analysis - J M Juran and Frank Gryna
Ok, I admit I am a Juran fan. But what can one do when a man can write with such clarity and meaning. In this classic Juran and Gryna present a range of topics that every quality manager should be familiar with. An excellent text to build fundamentals of quality. It was originally written and improved to be a text book for ASQ’s Certified Quality Engineer examination. However, over several editions the book has emerged from this narrow objective to serve as an all-round text on quality. The opening chapters on quality fundamentals and those on supplier quality are classics.

In my personal view most modern books on quality generously borrow from Juran’s seminal works.

Managerial Breakthrough - J M Juran
This is ultimate classic on quality. Written early in his career Juran later revised it to include the now famous concepts of quality trilogy and diagnostic and remedial journey. If QPA was for practioners MB is for the academic. No other book puts forward the case for quality so clearly. What is amazing is that the book hardly uses the term ‘quality’. Juran’s subsequent courses on breakthrough management have their foundation in MB.

Total Quality Control - Armand V. Feigenbaum
If there is one text book on quality that you want to study – this is it. Feigenbaum grew up in the quality function at GE. There was no aspect of industrial quality that he had no addressed. The book is more of a text book and hence not recommended for bed-side reading. Excellent text for preparing for certification examinations. In summary, a complete text.

The Six Sigma Way - Peter Pande, Robert Neuman, and Roland Cavanagh
If there is one book on Six Sigma that cuts out the statistical mumbo jumbo and still explains what needs to be explained – this is it. Brilliantly written the book can actually be read and understood by people who have no prior experience in Quality or Six Sigma. That’s quite an achievement. I particularly liked the hidden truths about Six Sigma that the authors articulate. Organized three parts: Part One: An Executive Summary of Six Sigma; Part Two: Gearing Up and Adapting Six Sigma to Your Organization; Part Three: Implementing Six Sigma -- The Roadmap and Tools. If you want to commence a six sigma journey or do some course correction, do not miss this one.

(In my personal opinion, the authors of the book appear to be immensely influenced by Juran’s Managerial Breakthrough. If you read both the books, you can’s miss the connect. Nevertheless TSSW is a modern classic.)

Quality is Free - Phil Crosby
Ok, I know all the four books above are more heavy reading than what a beginner will have patience for. If you want a book that you could read like a novel – Quality is Free will impress you. Written in a racy format the book is an excellent introduction to quality. It introduces the concept of
Zero Defects and Quality Management Maturity Grid. The often quoted definition of quality – Quality is Conformance to Requirements was, perhaps, first explained in this book. While Juran developed the subject, it was this book that popularized the concept of Cost of Quality. All in all, a gem of a readable book.

Having penned down my shortlist, I gave it a hard look. It was clear that this is a very monotone kind of list. All same type of books. Would others have a very different list? You bet! What do I do? I post a question on Here is a snapshot of some of the good ones I got. (I have removed repeats.) Needless to mention that many of the books from my list were repeated. (Feels good!)

1. The Goal - Eliyahu Goldratt
2. Out of the Crisis - W. Edwards Deming
3. Everyday Heroes - Perry Gluckman & Diana Reynolds Roome
4. Zapp! - William C. Byham, Ph.D.
5. The Pursuit of WOW! - Tom Peters
6. The New Economics - W. Edwards Deming
7. The Toyota Way Fieldbook
8. Five Frogs on a Log: A CEO's Field Guide to Accelerating the Transition in Mergers, Acquisitions And Gut Wrenching Change
9. "The American Samurai" and "Office Kaizen" by E. William Lareau
10. "The 20 Keys to Workplace Improvement" by Iwao Kobayashi
11. "Kaizen" by Masaaki Imai
12. "Understanding Industrial Design Experiments" by Mark Kimiele and Steve Schmidt
13. "The Machine that Changed the World" by Jim Womack
14. "Lean Thinking" by Jim Womack
15. Quality, Bo Bergman and Bengt Klefsjo
16. Lean six sigma for service, Michael L. George
18. ANY of the Dilbert books. :-)
19. Deming Mgt Method - Mary Walton
20. The Mind Of The Strategist: The Art of Japanese Business by Kenichi Ohmae
21. The Oliver Wight Class A Checklist for Business Excellence (Oliver Wight Manufacturing) by Inc. Oliver Wight International Implementing Juran's Road Map for Quality Leadership: Benchmarks and results by Al Endres
22. Managing Six Sigma: A Practical Guide to Understanding, Assessing, and Implementing the Strategy That Yields Bottom-Line Success by Forrest W. Breyfogle III, James M. Cupello and Becki Meadows
23. Six Sigma and Beyond: The Implementation Process, Volume VII by D. H. Stamatis
24. The Five Pillars of TQM by Bill Creech, the father of TQM.

I wish to thank the following for helping develop the above list.
Anand Varadarajan, Charles Hannabarger, Dan Feliciano, Diane Kulisek, Dmitry Finkelstein, Ekta Khetan, Jerry Linnins, and Rick Feltenberger.


SKI said…
I too came to "the quality movement" from the TQM world view. Juran is the master for me as well, in that small QC arena.

It is the rest of the books (beyond the five) that hold more interest for me... and my library shares many of the same titles, and most of the authors. One surprise I must investigate is the "Five frogs on a Log."

Allow me suggest two books for you, given your stated interest in managing large change initiatives: H. William Dettmer's Strategic Navigation and The Logical Thinking Process.

curiouscat said…
The Leader's Handbook by Peter Scholtes, The Improvement Guide, Toyota Talent, Fourth Generation Management and Ackoff's Best are 5 great management books.

More management book picks
Bala said…
Anshuman...please reconsider Bill Creech's book...everything other book on your list holds merit !!!
Ekta khetan said…

This is Ekta here...just came across your blog while trying to search for my name on google.

Trust things are moving smoothly at your end.

take care
Manjot kaur said…
Nice post. I am a lean practitioner myself and agree with you – we should collect failed stories so that we can get an understanding of what not to do.

Part time MBA in Chandigarh
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mexcontrol said…
Great Advice! Thanks for the information and can you share some thought on Supplier Quality Control
Evan Raymonds said…
Six Sigma is tools are used for process improvement. Six Sigma is the system preferred by businesses around the world to streamline, improve, and optimize any and every aspect of their organization. You can find the best Six Sigma tools to use and its applications to practice Six Sigma.

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