Today we shine the spotlight on Armand V. Feigenbaum, an American quality control expert who is recognised as the father of ‘Total Quality Control (TQC)’ and for making the customer the heart and focus of TQM. He coined the term ‘total quality control’, believing quality should be managed as part of the overall business strategy.


Armand Vallin Feigenbaum (April 6, 1920 – November 13, 2014) was an American quality control expert who received a bachelor’s degree from Union College, his master’s degree from the MIT Sloan School of Management, and his Ph.D. in Economics from MIT.

He was Director of Manufacturing Operations at General Electric (1958–1968), and was also President and CEO of General Systems Company of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, an engineering firm which designs and installs operational systems.

Feigenbaum wrote several books and served as President of the American Society for Quality (1961–1963).

Key Ideas

Armand V. Feigenbaum was the originator of ‘total quality control’, often referred to as total quality. He defined it as: “An effective system for integrating quality development, quality maintenance and quality improvement efforts of the various groups within an organisation, so as to enable production and service at the most economical levels that allow full customer satisfaction”.

He saw it as a business method and proposed three steps to quality:

  1. Quality leadership
  2. Modern quality technology
  3. Organisational commitment.

Armand V. Feigenbaum’s Total Approach to Quality

While he was a doctoral student at MIT, Armand V. Feigenbaum completed his first edition of his book Total Quality Control. Feigenbaum’s work centralised around the notion of a systematic or total approach to quality. He believed that a total approach to quality requires the involvement of all functions of the quality process, not only manufacturing. His idea was to build in quality in the early stage, rather than inspecting and controlling after the processes have been completed.

Founding Chairman of the International Academy for Quality

Armand V. Feigenbaum was also the founding chairman of the International Academy for Quality and also the past president of the American Society of Quality Control. In 1988, Feigenbaum was appointed to the board of overseers of the United States Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award Program. Dr Feigenbaum’s message was to move away from the concerns of the technical aspect of quality control and make a focus of quality control as a business method, including administrative and human relation functions. Another one of his emphases is that quality does not mean “best” but “best for the customer.”

Feigenbaum saw Modern Quality Control as the stimulating and building up of operator responsibilities and interests in quality. Feigenbaum also argued that all levels of quality need to be emphasised. For quality control to achieve its specified results there is the need for complete support from management as well as the quality control program must develop gradually from within the Organisation.

Dr Feigenbaum is known for his thoughts on how quality programs are one of the most powerful change agents for companies today. As a result of Dr. Feigenbaum’s work, company management has assumed the responsibility to make leadership contributions that will increase their company’s growth, which in turn will positively affect the national economy.

Total quality control is a broad-ranging set of techniques that are employed to minimize errors throughout an organisation. By doing so, an organization can greatly improve both its profits and customer satisfaction. It requires the involvement of employees across the organization who are empowered to make changes.

National Medal of Technology and Innovation

In 2007, Dr. Armand V. Feigenbaum was presented with the National Medal of Technology and Innovation by President Bush at a ceremony at the East Wing of the White House. The National Medal is the highest honour for technological achievement bestowed on America’s leading innovators.

He received it for; “leadership in the development of the economic relationship of quality costs, productivity improvement, and profitability and for his pioneering application of economics, general systems theory and technology, statistical methods and management principles that define the Total Quality Management approach for achieving performance excellence and global competitiveness.”

He died on November 13, 2014, at the age of 94.

Find out more about Armand V. Feigenbaum

 The below courses consider Armand V. Feigenbaum’s theories in more depth:

Further Research

If you’re interested in finding out more about Armand V. Feigenbaum click on the links below.

Visit The Feigenbaum Foundation website.

Watch an overview about Armand V. Feigenbaum.