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The Origin of the International Academy for Quality (IAQ)

(1966-1971)

While Dr. Armand V. “Val” Feigenbaum was serving as an ASQ volunteer leader (then called American Society for Quality Control) (he was a Vice President from 1958-1961 and President from1961-1963), he came to understand the global nature of quality and had first-hand insight into the power of quality to transform the post-war economies of Japan and Europe.  He was a catalyst in uniting the world’s thought leaders from the European Organization for Quality (EOQ – then called European Organization for Quality Control) which had just been formed, along with the more firmly established ASQ and Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers (JUSE).

While Feigenbaum served as the first Chairman of the International Academy for Quality (IAQ), he was most explicit in noting the origins of the concept and the influencers of this international quality movement.  The initial idea for forming an international association actually originated from the President of the EOQ, Dr. Jan van Ettinger and Feigenbaum observed in his first report about the IAQ that the JUSE had always been “internationally minded” noting that JUSE managing director Dr. Kenichi Koyanagi had received the ASQ Edwards Medal in recognition of his international contributions to the cause of quality.  Feigenbaum also noted the strong influence of American contributors to furthering the cause of quality globally starting with Dr. Walter Shewhart whose lectures in the United Kingdom stimulated the interest of Dr. Karl Pearson (he was later credited by Dr. Juran with influencing the early statistical concepts of some leading Japanese thinkers (especially Yashui Ishida of Toshiba who credited Pearson with introducing him to the ideas of Shewhart)).  In his initial report on the IAQ, Feigenbaum listed those Americans who had brought quality to other lands: Professor Paul C. Clifford, Dr. W. Edwards Deming, Dr. Joseph M. Juran, Dr. Sebastian B. Littauer, Dr. Ellis R. Ott, and Dr. William R. Pabst.  He modestly omitted his own name even though part of his General Electric job was to help rebuild the industrial base of their European business partners.

Subsequently in 1966, a ‘six man board’ was established to form what was first called the “International Quality Association” with membership representing the three major quality organizations to study potential need, design and development of a new global organization that could facilitate an international exchange of information about quality in order to promote quality throughout all nations.  JUSE, EOQ, and ASQ each nominated two individuals to formulate this study team and the target was to complete the organization of this new organization by 1971.  From Japan, JUSE nominated Dr. Kaoru Ishikawa and Dr. Masao Kogure (who was later replaced by Dr. Tetsuichi Asaka ).  Representing Europe two board members of EOQ were named to the board: Frank Nixon (from the United Kingdom who also generated support from the British Productivity Council) and George Borel (France).  ASQ nominated past-Presidents E. Jack Lancaster (who Val later credited with sparking the ASQ interest in developing such an organization) and Feigenbaum to the team.

A preliminary organizing meeting of the International Quality Association was held in New York in June 1966 and the first formal meeting of the “Board of Six” was held in Stockholm later that month.  After much correspondence a second meeting was held in London in June 1967 at which time the organizing date for the International Academy for Quality (IAQ) was set for 1971 and the invited membership was expanded to twenty-one individuals with equal representation from the three geographic regions.  The first Americans included in the Academy were: Leon Bass, Charles A. Bicking, C. Eugene Fisher, Julius Y. McClure, and Thomas C. McDermott in addition to Feigenbaum and Lancaster.  Japan and Europe also nominated seven members each.  The initial Japanese members included: Keijiro Inoue, Kotaro Itoh, Masao Kogure, Shigeru Mizuno, and Mamoru Yamaguchi in addition to Asaka and Ishikawa.  The first European Academicians were: J. D. N. De-Fremery (Netherlands), Olle Jonson (Sweden), Walter E. Masing (Germany), Umberto Turello (Italy), and Agnes H. Zaludova (Czechoslovakia) who joined Borel and Nixon.

Three individuals are credited with leading this founding period of the IAQ: Val Feigenbaum, Kaoru Ishikawa, and Walter E. Masing who have been recognized as ‘service leaders’ by an internal “Academy Award” – The IAQ Founders Medal – which is given for especially meritorious service over the Academy’s triennial management period.

The original purpose of the IAQ was three-fold: to coordinate attention to technical problems in quality; assure the broad dissemination of the results of such work to the greatest benefit of those concerned; and promote recognition of the role and importance of quality in other disciplines as a concept and as a decisive factor in stimulating success in all disciplines.

Feigenbaum had a key role in organizing the Academy and he served as its first chairman.  Jack Lancaster was elected as the first President, then Feigenbaum followed him as the second President.  The influence of Feigenbaum’s leadership style and contribution to the Academy has deeply influenced the entire history of the IAQ and will probably continue to influence its direction into the foreseeable future.  The history and global nature of the Academy’s development can be observed through its sequence of leaders.

A complete list of presidents of the Academy includes (note that IAQ presidents graduate to position of chairman at the end of their term):

  • 1971 – E. Jack Lancaster (United States) *
  • 1975 – Armand V. Feigenbaum (United States) *
  • 1978 – Walter E. Masing (Germany) *
  • 1981 – Kaoru Ishikawa (Japan) *
  • 1984 – Murray E. Liebman (United States) *
  • 1987 – Herman J. Zeller (Germany)
  • 1991 – H. James Harrington (United States)
  • 1994 – Yoshio Kondo (Japan) [Kondo served a double-term as Chairman] *
  • 1997 – Marcos E. J. Bertin (Argentina) [Bertin served a double-term as President]
  • 2003 – Spencer J. Hutchens (United States) *
  • 2006 – Tito Conti (Italy)
  • 2009 – Gregory H. Watson (Finland)
  • 2012 – Janak K. Mehta (India)
  • 2015 – Pal Molnaŕ (Hungary)

* Deceased