Useful Notes on the Concept of Zero Defect Programme

The zero defect concept originated in 1961 by Philip Crosby, then quality manager for the Martin company of Orlando, Florida and later developed into a phased strategy by Jim Halpin, Martin’s quality director, the concept was first applied to a missile production programme for the U.S. Government. The zero defect programme reportedly paid rich dividends to this company.

Despite a marginally feasible delivery date (8 weeks only), Martin guaranteed to produce a defect free missile on schedule. Martin technique was to establish a running production time inspection by operations that were individually pledged to achieve the necessary quality standards at the first manufacturing or assembly operation. In fact, the slogan used to motivate employees throughout the critical period who do it right the first time.

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Errors or Defects are caused by two factors: lack of knowledge and lack of attention. The lack of knowledge and the lack of attention factor is an attitudinal problem.

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The zero defect concept is the formula for the management programme which seeks the voluntary participation of work people in undertaking personnel responsibility for the quality of the task in hand. It is an approach to the problem of securing a high level of error free work performance.

The main theme behind the zero defects is that the worker should be positively motivated to achieve as much perfection in his job as possible. Motivating the worker to take pride in his job and to does his job as perfectly as possible the first time itself is the heart of the zero defect programme,

Motivation is achieved through various means like posters, publicity, voluntary pledges by workers, visits of customers to the plant etc. The thrust is on each worker fixing his own defective reduction goal by himself.


Before such pledges and other motivational techniques, it is necessary to generate a good awareness about the product amongst workers such as, what is product, where is it used etc. It is also necessary to generate an awareness of the performance of the product quality. Such an awareness campaign should precede the actual implementation of the zero defect programme.

For implementing the zero defects programme, following steps are undertaken (Fig. 20.9).


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