He was a 20th century management consultant who is principally remembered as an evangelist for quality and quality management, writing several influential books on those subjects.
The end of World War II compelled Japan to change its focus from becoming a military power to becoming an economic one. Despite Japan's ability to compete on price, its consumer goods manufacturers suffered from a long-established reputation of poor quality. The first edition of Juran's Quality Control Handbook in 1951 attracted the attention of theJapanese Union of Scientists and Engineers (JUSE) which invited him to Japan in 1952. When he finally arrived in Japan in 1954 Juran met with ten manufacturing companies, notably Showa Denko, Nippon Kōgaku, Noritake, and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company. He also lectured at Hakone, Waseda University, Ōsaka, and Kōyasan. During his life he made ten visits to Japan, the last in 1990.
Working independently of W. Edwards Deming (who focused on the use of statistical quality control), Juran—who focused on managing for quality—went to Japan and started courses (1954) in Quality Management.
In 1941 Juran stumbled across the work of Vilfredo Pareto and began to apply the Pareto principle to quality issues (for example, 80% of a problem is caused by 20% of the causes). This is also known as "the vital few and the trivial many". In later years Juran preferred "the vital few and the useful many" to signal that the remaining 80% of the causes should not be totally ignored.
Juran is widely credited for adding the human dimension to quality management. He pushed for the education and training of managers. For Juran, human relations problems were the ones to isolate. Resistance to change—or, in his terms, cultural resistance—was the root cause of quality issues. Juran credits Margaret Mead's book Cultural Patterns and Technical Change for illuminating the core problem in reforming business quality. He wrote Managerial Breakthrough, which was published in 1964, outlining the issue.
Juran's vision of quality management extended well outside the walls of the factory to encompass non-manufacturing processes, especially those that might be thought of as service related. For example, in an interview published in 1997 he observed:
The key issues facing managers in sales are no different than those faced by managers in other disciplines. Sales managers say they face problems such as "It takes us too long...we need to reduce the error rate." They want to know, "How do customers perceive us?" These issues are no different than those facing managers trying to improve in other fields. The systematic approaches to improvement are identical. ... There should be no reason our familiar principles of quality and process engineering would not work in the sales process.
He also developed the "Juran's trilogy," an approach to cross-functional management that is composed of three managerial processes: quality planning, quality control and quality improvement.