Omissions on the ASQ’s History-of-Quality web page

Going backwards in time, the ASQ website’ page on the history of quality ignores Lean Quality in the late 20th century, interchangeable parts technology in the 19th, and the origin of the concept of “quality” in ancient Rome.


  1. The page contains no mention of Lean Quality. Lean manufacturers have outperformed competitors by techniques that are not even listed, such as one-piece flow, successive inspection, mistake-proofing, and others. Shigeo Shingo, who created and documented many of these techniques is not referenced. That the  methods are not statistical does not make them less valuable.
  2. The summary ignores the entire 19th century, which saw the emergence of  interchangeable parts technology, with the blueprints, critical dimensions and tolerances that are the foundation of modern quality.
  3. Quality is a word whose origin is known, as it was coined by Cicero in his Academica in 45 BC. What he meant by it is less clear, but my take on it is that it is the way in which a system is more than the collection of its parts.

The first omission is critical because Lean Quality is the state of the art in quality management. The second is mind boggling: how could a history of quality skip over a massive, decade-long and eventually successful undertaking that was targeting the elimination of variability? The third is a detail.