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The Lesson of Guild History: Variance Reduction Must Be Balanced with Innovation

Summary: [This abstract is based on the author's abstract.] A response to J.M. Juran's challenge to learn from the history of quality management looks at the history of the guilds. The study concludes that the variance minimization that was the foundation of quality management in the guilds had the unintended consequence of discouraging innovation. Signals of dangerous reliance on variance control include exclusive focus, ritualization, product and process authority limited to one technology, intergroup competition, and defensiveness on opportunities for innovation.

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  • Topics: Innovation, Quality Management
  • Keywords: History,Innovation,Labor relations,Variance components,Quality management (QM),Organizational culture,Lessons learned
  • Author: Wolek, Francis W.
  • Journal: Quality Management Journal