Strive for Zero

December 23, 2014 by

“In a true zero-defects approach, there are no unimportant items.” Phil Crosby*

The word “zero” has more than one definition, one of which, used as an adjective, is “having no measurable or otherwise determinable value.” However, when used in conjunction with the word “defect,” as in the quote above, it means “having no flaws or errors.”

In an environment where we must flip less into more, having zero as a measure of success translates into positive outcomes.

Zero downtime > 100% uptime. Because outages that cause downtime are unacceptable, even disrespectful of customers.

Zero customer dissatisfaction > a base for customer delight. Because satisfied customers are likely to stay, and delighted customers are likely to advocate.

Zero errors > a sign of quality. Because quality, particularly at scale, is an attractor.

Zero waste > a sign of effectiveness. Because the less inefficiency, the more time employees (and customers) have to spend on innovation and service.

Zero breaches > Because why would we want anything else.

It’s that time of the year when we can resolve to do better. Resolve to strive for zero.


If all the buses that I often travel on (C&J Bus Lines in #603 area code, Michigan Flyer in #517 area code) have free WiFi, why don’t all the airplanes?

Speaking of air travel, I think airlines should consider charging people to carry on bags, and incent them to check baggage.

The quote that begins this post is attributed to Philip Bayard “Phil” Crosby, (June 18, 1926 – August 18, 2001). Phil Crosby was a businessman and author who contributed to management theory and quality management practices. One of his beliefs was that it costs less to do things right the first time than to pay for rework and repairs. I believe that also.



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