House of Quality

Topics: Customer, Customer service, Harvard Business School Pages: 42 (5053 words) Published: December 3, 2013
The House of Quality

by John R. Hauser and Don Clausing

Harvard Business Review
Reprint 88307

Design is a team effort, but how do marketing and
engineering talk to each other?

The House of Quality
by John R. Hauser and Don Clausing

Digital Equipment, Hewlett-Packard, AT&T, and
ITT are getting started with it. Ford and General
Motors use it – at Ford alone there are more than 50
applications. The “house of quality,” the basic design tool of the management approach known as quality function deployment (QFD), originated in
1972 at Mitsubishi’s Kobe shipyard site. Toyota and
its suppliers then developed it in numerous ways.
The house of quality has been used successfully by
Japanese manufacturers of consumer electronics,
home appliances, clothing, integrated circuits, synthetic rubber, construction equipment, and agricultural engines. Japanese designers use it for services like swimming schools and retail outlets and even

for planning apartment layouts.
A set of planning and communication routines,
quality function deployment focuses and coordinates skills within an organization, first to design, then to manufacture and market goods that cusHARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW

May-June 1988

tomers want to purchase and will continue to purchase. The foundation of the house of quality is the belief that products should be designed to reflect
customers’ desires and tastes – so marketing people,
design engineers, and manufacturing staff must
work closely together from the time a product is
first conceived.
The house of quality is a kind of conceptual map
that provides the means for interfunctional planning and communications. People with different John R. Hauser, at the Harvard Business School as a Marvin Bower fellow during the current academic year, is professor of management science at MIT’s Sloan School

of Management. He is the author, with Glen L. Urban, of
Design & Marketing of New Products (Prentice-Hall,
1980). Don Clausing is Bernard M. Gordon Adjunct Professor of Engineering Innovation and Practice at MIT. Previously he worked for Xerox Corporation. He introduced QFD to Ford and its supplier companies in 1984.

Copyright © 1988 by the Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved.


What’s So Hard About Design
David Garvin points out that there are many dimensions to what a consumer means by quality and that it is a major challenge to design products that
satisfy all of these at once.1 Strategic quality management means more than avoiding repairs for consumers. It means that companies learn from customer experience and reconcile what they want with what engineers can reasonably build.

Before the industrial revolution, producers were
close to their customers. Marketing, engineering, and
manufacturing were integrated – in the same individual. If a knight wanted armor, he talked directly to the armorer, who translated the knight’s desires
into a product. The two might discuss the material
– plate rather than chain armor – and details like
fluted surfaces for greater bending strength. Then
the armorer would design the production process.
For strength – who knows why? – he cooled the steel
plates in the urine of a black goat. As for a production plan, he arose with the cock’s crow to light the forge fire so that it would be hot enough by midday.
Today’s fiefdoms are mainly inside corporations.
Marketing people have their domain, engineers
theirs. Customer surveys will find their way onto
designers’ desks, and R&D plans reach manufacturing engineers. But usually, managerial functions remain disconnected, producing a costly and demor-

alizing environment in which product quality and
the quality of the production process itself suffer.
Top executives are learning that the use of interfunctional teams benefits design. But if top management could get marketing, designing, and manufacturing executives to sit down together, what should these...
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