Managers Are PONC

Managers Are PONC

Number 4 in Phil Crosby’s Four Absolutes of Quality is “The measurement of quality is the price of nonconformance (PONC), NOT indices.”

By which he meant, that the price of non-conformance to requirements tells us how often and the degree to which our organisation achieves quality. 

Le’s unwrap that a bit further.

In Absolute number 1, he says “The definition of quality is conformance to requirements, NOT ‘goodness’”.

So when we’re delivering stuff to our immediate customers that fails to conform to their requirements, that is not contributing to their success, we are failing to provide quality goods or services. 

We can measure this failure in terms of the price of non-conformance. That is, the costs involved in reworking, retesting, correcting, substituting, fixing-up or otherwise remediating the things we deliver so they do conform to our customers requirements.

In short, any cost that would not have been expended if quality had been perfect contributes to the price of non-conformance.

Managers Are PONC

If we look at the typical work of managers, almost all of what they do on a daily basis is all those fire-fighting remediations mentioned above. Indeed, in most organisations, this is the raison d’être of the manager’s role (minuscule other reasons include prevention of problems, and growth of the organisation and its revenues, profits).

Therefore it’s but a small jump to see that managers are one of the major contributors to their organisation’s price of non-conformance. In other words their costs (salaries, etc). are almost entirely consequent on their fire-fighting role.If fire-fighting was unnecessary, so would be the managers, and their costs.

– Bob

Further Reading

Unknown (2013). Manager Thought: Price of Non Conformance (PONC). [online] Manager Thought. Available at: [Accessed 4 Mar. 2022].

Merbler, K. (2021) The Entrepreneur Who Created A Business Camelot: Philip B. Crosby. Dominionhouse Publishing & Design, LLC. Kindle Edition.

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