Zero Defects

Zero Defects (ZD) refers to a management technique and program that uses motivational techniques aimed at reducing defects through prevention.

This defect elimination performance improvement program was originally developed in the 1960s and 70s. In the 1990s the essence of the ZD program was described in Philip Crosby’s book “Absolutes of Quality Management”.

ZD is directed at inspiring people to prevent mistakes by developing a constant, conscious desire to do their job right the first time and not to rely on inspectors to catch the mistakes before they reach the customer, as such ZD strongly opposes the concept of acceptable quality levels, which allows a certain number of acceptable defects and reinforces the attitude that mistakes are inevitable.

While impractical to attain, as a philosophy and performance goal, “Zero Defects” thinking (in other words, ‘Why not perfect?) has much merit. Today, ZD theory is viewed more as the relentless pursuit of lifecycle product and service delivery quality perfection in order to drive customer satisfaction and retention.

The Zero Defects philosophy manifests some key characteristics. Non-quality is not merely a miss or potential for a missed requirement, but it’s also expressed in terms of its financial impact in order to gain keen focus from both management and associates. With that, all must endeavor to fulfill product and / or service requirements (form, fit, function, schedule, etc.) — as close to perfection as practical endeavoring to do everything right the first time eliminating waste, variation and the possibility of process mistakes or errors from the outset.

Much of what was spiritually ingrained in ZD is rooted in the expansive and comprehensive philosophies embedded in Lean Production and Six Sigma among other related bodies of knowledge.

The successful following of the ZD performance standards requires unfaltering management involvement to prevent systems creep. See Procedural Adherence in our glossary to learn how to address this.

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