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Joseph M. Juran
American-Romanian engineer

Joseph M. Juran

Joseph M. Juran
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American-Romanian engineer
Was Economist Engineer Mathematician Statistician Consultant Businessperson
From Romania United States of America
Field Business Engineering Finance Mathematics
Gender male
Birth 24 December 1904, Brăila, Romania
Death 28 February 2008, Rye, USA (aged 103 years)
Star sign Capricorn
University of Minnesota bachelor's degree 1920-1924
South High School (-1920)
Loyola University Chicago School of Law Juris Doctor 1931-1935
National Medal of Technology and Innovation 1992
The details (from wikipedia)


Joseph Moses Juran (December 24, 1904 – February 28, 2008) was a Romanian-born American engineer and management consultant. He was an evangelist for quality and quality management, having written several books on those subjects. He was the brother of Academy Award winner Nathan Juran.

Early life

Juran was born in Brăila, Romania, one of the six children born to Jakob and Gitel Juran; they later lived in Gura Humorului. He had three sisters: Rebecca (nicknamed Betty), Minerva, who earned a doctoral degree and had a career in education, and Charlotte. He had two brothers: film and art director Nathan Juran, and Rudolph, known as Rudy. Rudy founded a municipal bond company. In 1912, Joseph Juran emigrated to America with his family, settling in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He excelled in school, especially in mathematics. He was a chess champion at an early age, and dominated chess at Western Electric. Juran graduated from Minneapolis South High School in 1920.

In 1924, with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Minnesota, Juran joined Western Electric's Hawthorne Works. His first job was troubleshooting in the Complaint Department. In 1925, Bell Labs proposed that Hawthorne Works personnel be trained in its newly developed statistical sampling and control chart techniques. Juran was chosen to join the Inspection Statistical Department, a small group of engineers charged with applying and disseminating Bell Labs' statistical quality control innovations. This highly visible position fueled Juran's rapid ascent in the organization and the course of his later career.

Personal life

In 1926, he married Sadie Shapiro. Joseph and Sadie met in 1924 when his sister Betty moved to Chicago, and Sadie and he met her train; in his autobiography, he wrote of meeting Sadie, "There and then I was smitten and have remained so ever since." They were engaged in 1925, on Joseph's 21st birthday. Fifteen months later, they were married. They had been married for nearly 82 years when he died in 2008.

Joseph and Sadie raised four children (three sons and a daughter): Robert, Sylvia, Charles, and Donald. Robert was an award-winning newspaper editor, and Sylvia earned a doctorate in Russian literature.

Department chief

Juran was promoted to department chief in 1928, and the following year became a division chief. He published his first quality-related article in Mechanical Engineering in 1935. In 1937, he moved to Western Electric/AT&T's headquarters in New York City, where he held the position of Chief Industrial Engineer.

As a hedge against the uncertainties of the Great Depression, he enrolled in Loyola University Chicago School of Law in 1931. He graduated in 1935 and was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1936, though he never practiced law.

During the Second World War, through an arrangement with his employer, Juran served in the Lend-Lease Administration and Foreign Economic Administration. Just before the war's end, he resigned from Western Electric and his government post, intending to become a freelance consultant.

He soon joined the faculty of New York University as an adjunct professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering, where he taught courses in quality control and ran round table seminars for executives. He also worked via a small management consulting firm on projects for Gilette, Hamilton Watch Company and Borg-Warner. After the firm's owner's sudden death, Juran began his own independent practice, from which he made a comfortable living until his retirement in the late 1990s. His early clients included the now defunct Bigelow-Sanford Carpet Company, the Koppers Company, the International Latex Company, Bausch & Lomb and General Foods.


The end of World War II compelled Japan to change its focus from becoming a military power to becoming an economic one. Despite Japan's ability to compete on price, its consumer goods manufacturers suffered from a long-established reputation of poor quality. The first edition of Juran's Quality Control Handbook in 1951 attracted the attention of the Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers (JUSE), which invited him to Japan in 1952. When he finally arrived in Japan in 1954, Juran met with executives from ten manufacturing companies, notably Showa Denko, Nippon Kōgaku, Noritake, and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company. He also lectured at Hakone, Waseda University, Ōsaka, and Kōyasan. During his life, he made ten visits to Japan, the last in 1990.

Working independently of W. Edwards Deming (who focused on the use of statistical process control), Juran—who focused on managing for quality—went to Japan and started courses (1954) in quality management. The training began with top and middle management. The idea that top and middle management needed training had found resistance in the United States. For Japan, it would take some 20 years for the training to pay off. In the 1970s, Japanese products began to be seen as the leaders in quality. This sparked a crisis in the United States due to quality issues in the 1980s.


Pareto principle

In 1941, Juran stumbled across the work of Vilfredo Pareto and began to apply the Pareto principle to quality issues (for example, 80% of a problem is caused by 20% of the causes). This is also known as "the vital few and the trivial many." In later years, Juran preferred "the vital few and the useful many" to signal that the remaining 80% of the causes should not be totally ignored.

For example, he argued that most defects are the result of a small percentage of the causes of all defects, according to the Economist. For another, 20% of a team’s members are going to make up 80% of a project’s successful results. And 20% of a businesses’ customers will create 80% of the profit.

Juran felt organizations, armed with that knowledge, would focus less on meaningless minutiae and more on identifying the 20%. That means eliminating the 20% of mistakes causing the majority of defects, rewarding the 20% of employees causing 80% of the success and serving the 20% of loyal customers that drive sales. In a way, Pareto’s Principle puts numbers to the idea that in business, as in life, things are not evenly distributed. Pareto was studying land ownership in Italy. But Juran saw that it applied to business, as well.

Sources: https://www.sixsigmadaily.com/remembering-joseph-juran-quality-improvement/

Management theory

When he began his career in the 1920s, the principal focus in quality management was on the quality of the end, or finished, product. The tools used were from the Bell system of acceptance sampling, inspection plans, and control charts. The ideas of Frederick Winslow Taylor dominated.

Juran is widely credited for adding the human dimension to quality management. He pushed for the education and training of managers. For Juran, human relations problems were the ones to isolate, and resistance to change was the root cause of quality issues. Juran credits Margaret Mead's book Cultural Patterns and Technical Change for illuminating the core problem in reforming business quality. His book Managerial Breakthrough, published in 1964, outlined the issue.

Juran's concept of quality management extended outside the walls of the factory to encompass nonmanufacturing processes, especially those that might be thought of as service related. For example, in an interview published in 1997 he observed:

The key issues facing managers in sales are no different than those faced by managers in other disciplines. Sales managers say they face problems such as "It takes us too long...we need to reduce the error rate." They want to know, "How do customers perceive us?" These issues are no different than those facing managers trying to improve in other fields. The systematic approaches to improvement are identical. ... There should be no reason our familiar principles of quality and process engineering would not work in the sales process.

The Juran trilogy

Juran was one of the first to write about the cost of poor quality. This was illustrated by his "Juran trilogy," an approach to cross-functional management, which is composed of three managerial processes: quality planning, quality control, and quality improvement. Without change, there will be a constant waste; during change there will be increased costs, but after the improvement, margins will be higher and the increased costs are recouped.

Transferring quality knowledge between East and West

During his 1966 visit to Japan, Juran learned about the Japanese concept of quality circles, which he enthusiastically evangelized in the West. He also acted as a matchmaker between U.S. and Japanese companies looking for introductions to each other.

Juran Institute

Juran founded the Juran Institute in 1979. The Institute is an international training, certification, and consulting company that provides training and consulting services in quality management, Lean manufacturing management and business process management, as well as Six Sigma certification. The institute is based in Southbury, Connecticut. Their mission statement is to "Create a global community of practice to empower organizations and people to push beyond their limits."


Juran was active well into his 80s, and gave up international travel only at age 86. He retired at age 90 but still gave interviews. His activities during the second half of his life include:

  • Consulting for U.S. companies such as Armour and Company, Dennison Manufacturing Company, Merck, Sharp & Dohme, Otis Elevator Company, Xerox, and the United States Navy Fleet Ballistic Missile System., Steve Jobs.
  • Consulting for Western European and Japanese companies such as Rolls-Royce Motors, Philips, Volkswagen, Royal Dutch Shell, and Toyota Motor Company.
  • Pro bono consulting for Soviet-bloc countries (Hungary, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Russia, Poland, and Yugoslavia).
  • Founding the Juran Institute and the Juran Foundation.

Later life and death

Juran began writing his memoirs at 92. They were published two months before he celebrated his 99th birthday. He gave two interviews at 94 and 97.

In 2004, at age 100, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Luleå University of Technology in Sweden. A special event was held in May to mark his 100th birthday.

Sadie and he celebrated their 81st wedding anniversary in June 2007. They were both 102 at the time. Juran died of a stroke on 28 February 2008, at age 103, in Rye, New York. He was active on his 103rd birthday and was caring for himself and Sadie, who was in poor health, when he died. Sadie died on 2 December 2008, at age 103. They were survived by their four children, nine grandchildren, and ten great-grandchildren. Juran left a book that was 37% complete, which he began at age 98.

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 15 Jun 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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