Menu Close

Zero Defects Approach in Six Sigma

Defects create significant problems that increase the overall costs of products and services the organization produces for its customers. Besides the increased production costs, an organization’s human and financial resources costs exceed the estimated budget. Producing and delivering defective products or services that do not meet the quality standards leads to the organization’s loss of reputation in the market. Therefore, organizations rely on their effective quality management process to eliminate or minimize defects in the business processes.

The concept of zero defects emphasizes the idea that defects should not exist in the first place. Philip B. Crosby originally coined it in his book titled “Quality is Free,” which was released in 1979. According to the author, when defects are absent, there are no extra costs related to the management of quality in products and services. Hence, quality becomes free. This article will discuss the zero defects approach and establish whether it is feasible or not.

Zero Defects Approach

What is Zero Defect?

Zero Defects is a philosophy in quality management. It is not a methodology that includes the guiding principles or techniques to achieve a zero defects approach in the business. While many quality management professionals and Lean Six Sigma practitioners will argue that the idea of no defects is impossible, specific proportions believe that the phrase should not be taken literally. The zero defects approach is not about accurately predicting and eliminating defects from the business process. It is about being proactive and addressing the problems in the business at the earliest stage.

Zero Defects Approach

Quality managers should treat zero defects as a standard to communicate that the organization strives to create the product or service optimally the first time. It also means no testing and no revisions of products after production since the quality standards have been met since the beginning of the production process. This approach may seem implausible, especially for organizations that support the continuous improvement process of Six Sigma. But the zero defects approach can work simultaneously with the continuous improvement initiative and still meet its objective of no defects.

The goal of producing products and services with no defects is indeed daunting. Primarily, organizations must ensure that all systems, processes, procedures, and employees are proactively working towards the zero defects goal. Therefore, this approach is unsuitable for every quality-related business problem in an organization. The zero defects approach can be applied to business problems that directly impact the organization’s or business enterprise’s objectives. Before adopting this approach, organizations should consider the business requirements and its goals.

Is Zero Defects Attainable?

Whenever customers purchase a product or service, they think about zero defects. Whether buying a brand-new automobile or the latest smartphone device in the market, customers expect to be satisfied with the purchase for a long time. These are some examples of the zero defects approach. Here the zero defects philosophy directly affects personal or professional goals like satisfaction, security, and safety. Thus, the zero defects approach is attainable, but the areas it can be adopted vary.

However, using the zero defects approach in processes that do not need it can become counterproductive. Doing so will increase the budget rather than decrease the costs of repeated quality checks and testing. The zero defects philosophy of getting things right on the first try finds its application in every organization across all major industries. Although there are no steps or guidelines to achieve zero defects, many organizations create strategies to reach their business objectives with the help of qualified and certified quality management professionals.


The zero defects concept started in the 1970s, and since then, quality management has advanced manifolds. Methodologies like Lean, Six Sigma, Lean Six Sigma, TQM (Total Quality Management), and many more play a huge part in strengthening an organization’s quality control and process improvement initiatives. By combining the zero defects approach with modern quality management methodologies, organizations worldwide can strive to produce and deliver products and services of the highest quality to their customers.

Posted in Quality Management

Related Articles