Michael Cardinal Gives Us a Lecture on the History of Quality Management

Kimberly Yánez February 9, 2023
- 8 min read

The industrial revolutions have had a significant impact on ITSM, particularly. As a case in point, the concept of Quality Management evolved over time as a response to the challenges posed by the industrial revolutions. 

The truth of the matter is that we’ve come a long way since Ford’s introduction of the assembly line.

On the 41st Episode of Ticket Volume, our IT podcast, Michael Cardinal took us on a journey through the history of Quality Management. He explored how the notion of quality was shaped, from the principles of Taylorism to the contributions of figures like Ishikawa. 

Michael Cardinal, the Director of Business Process Management at Thirdera, is a history teacher at heart with over 20 years of experience. His passion for history drives his eagerness to trace the origins of new ideas and reflect on how history can shape the present and future. Michael's unique perspective allows him to provide valuable insights into various topics, from Quality Management to the impact of historical events on modern practices.

Make sure not to miss the opportunity to catch the entire episode, where you can gain further insight from Cardinal on what took ITSM to where it is now. Additionally, keep in mind that you can sign up for our monthly live recordings and directly ask any questions you may have during the session!



History of Quality Management

Cardinal shared his background in history and how it applies to Service Management. He emphasized how essential it is to learn from the past and understand how history repeats itself if mistakes are not addressed in IT.



"I brought a quote today from Soren Kierkegaard, philosopher, ‘life can only be understood backwards, but must be lived forward’, and iit's one of the key things that I always keep in mind. We learned from the past that informs the future and I think it's applicable to service management to IT."

Michael Cardinal
Director of Business Process Management at Thirdera
Episode 41 of Ticket Volume


He also discussed how his teaching background translates into his current role in service management. He and Donna Knapp presented at the Service Management World conference, where they discussed the origins of Service Management and its connection to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

To illustrate this, he mentioned Frederick Winslow Taylor's scientific management principles and Henry Ford's introduction of the assembly line are highlighted as influential factors in shaping service management practices.  W. Edwards Deming and Joseph Juran had an impact as well with their work in statistical process control and quality improvement, which paved the way for service management's focus on quality.

Then, ITIL emerged as a key framework for ITSM. The shift toward customer-centric service management was born, as organizations prioritized delivering value to customers and meeting their needs. Now, it keeps moving forward with the integration of Agile and DevOps practices in service management. These methodologies enable organizations to respond quickly to changing customer demands and deliver high-quality services.

But let’s dig into the details of this insightful lecture.

Learning to consider the human element 

In the early days of organizational management, Frederick Taylor proposed a view that divided people in an organization into two classes: managers and workers. Managers, who were considered educated and capable, formed the upper class, while everyone else was seen as mere brutes, fit only for manual labor.

Taylor's approach to improving efficiency involved time-motion studies, which focused on optimizing the speed and productivity of tasks. However, this approach disregarded the individual's feelings and humanity, treating workers as mere cogs in a machine. Ford Motor Company adopted Taylorism and implemented moving assembly lines and time-motion studies, further dehumanizing workers and emphasizing productivity above all else.

Critics argue that Taylorism is bureaucratic, oversimplified, and lacks consideration for the human aspects of work. It is necessary to recognize the fine line between objective approaches like Taylorism and the potential for dehumanization. Cardinal compared it to modern discussions around automation and replacing humans with machines since they reflect similar ideas.

To reintroduce the human aspect into management, quality management emerged as a response to Taylorism. Figures like Lillian Gilbreath and Deming contributed to this shift by emphasizing the importance of considering the human element in the workplace. Gilbreath, one of the first industrial psychologists, combined Taylorism with psychology and introduced concepts like ergonomics, recognizing the weighty matter of employee well-being and job satisfaction.

Deming's approach to quality management further emphasized the significance of the individual worker and continuous improvement. He believed in working collaboratively with employees to identify and solve problems, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and prioritizing quality over quantity.

Paying attention to quality control

It is indeed imperative to recognize that management cannot be successful without the people who do the actual work. The success of any organization depends on the contributions of all its employees, and it is crucial to value and respect their efforts.

Moving on to Philip Crosby, his idea of zero defects and his definition of quality as conformance to customer requirements have had a significant impact on the field of Quality Management. However, it is worth noting that the concept of zero defects was sometimes taken to extremes by others, leading to unrealistic expectations and approaches like Six Sigma. Crosby himself emphasized the importance of focusing on big things before fixating on sub-nanosecond differences, suggesting that attention should be given to relevant issues rather than getting lost in minor details.

Crosby also encouraged a focus on the positive side of things and a shift in metrics. He believes that metrics should shed light on what has been achieved rather than what hasn't, fostering a more positive and motivating work environment. 

In his later book, Quality Is Free, Crosby reiterated that delivering quality internally doesn't have to incur additional costs. He advocated for eliminating waste and focusing on value-added work to achieve quality without adding expenses. This course of action differentiates manufacturers and service providers by their ability to deliver quality without increasing costs.




"Ichiro and Kaoru Ishikawa were part of the Japanese Union of Engineers that were present during Deming's time in Japan, so he originally went over - as part of the rebuilding of Japan with General MacArthur - and gave a series of lectures over about six weeks where he talked about his concepts and the Ishikawas (...) took those ideas and ran with it. We can really kind of credit the Ishikawas into taking the ideas of the three before them, in terms of quality, plus the ideas of Gilbreath, and making it real."

Michael Cardinal
Director of Business Process Management at Thirdera
Episode 41 of Ticket Volume


Regarding Ichiro and Kaoru Ishikawa, their contributions to quality control and the development of the quality circle have had a major influence on the field of quality management. Ishikawa's strategy strengthened the essential role of involving everyone in the organization in the pursuit of quality, recognizing the value of employee contributions and involvement in decision-making processes.

They have influenced modern practices:

  • Lean principles, derived from the Ishikawas' work, focus on eliminating waste, optimizing processes, and delivering value to customers. 
  • Agile methodologies, inspired by lean principles, promote iterative and collaborative approaches to software development. 
  • DevOps, another offshoot of lean principles, places emphasis on the integration and collaboration of development and operations teams for faster and more reliable software delivery. 

Bottom line

This is just a summary of Ticket Volume's episode featuring Michael Cardinal. There's a lot more to discover in the recording. Be sure to listen to the full conversation with Matt Beran to learn more about the history of Quality Management.

You can find the full episode on popular platforms like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, or any other podcast platform you prefer. Remember to subscribe if you're interested in joining the monthly live recordings!

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