Photo of Armand V. Feigenbaum

Armand V. Feigenbaum

  • National Medal of Technology and Innovation
  • Management

For leadership in the development of the economic relationship of quality costs, productivity improvement, and profitability and for his pioneering application of economics, general systems theory and technology, statistical methods and management principles that define the Total Quality Management approach for achieving performance excellence and global competitiveness.

Armand Feigenbaum on the human dimension of total quality management

Armand Feigenbaum was born in 1922 and passed away in 2014 but the principles for management he created will likely outlast him by another century.

Feigenbaum started in General Electric in the late 1930s as an apprentice tool-maker but would go on to become Company-wide Manager of Manufacturing Operations and Quality Control. In that role he began to explore a theory of management based around quality, wrote his industry-leading book Total Quality Control, and received an MA and PhD from MIT.

In 1968, Feigenbaum and his brother, Donald, started their own company and began to consult with Fortune 500 clients, teaching them the principles of quality and quality control, creating billions of dollars in savings, and boosting customer satisfaction around the world. His work with Japanese firms in particular, like Toshiba and Hitachi, has been credited as one of the forces that helped create their rise and enduring reputations in the global marketplace.

Feigenbaum had an uncompromising view of quality but one that was ultimately democratic. He remarked, “Quality is what the user, the customer, says it is,” and by that view he came to permanently change the face of management.

By Casey Samulski