Eulogy for Q. Emmess

    Today, as Qualio publishes our 2022 life science quality trends report which reveals that almost half of quality professionals have already digitized their quality system and another 31% plan to in the next year, we gather to say goodbye to Q. Emmess.

    He lived to the ripe old age of 100 and touched the lives of all quality professionals in that time. 

    He was loved, but might not be missed. Let’s look back at his remarkable life.


    Q. Emmess



    Q. Emmess was born in the 1920s as the first seeds of modern scientific control were sewn in American industry. With his friend Walter Shewhart, he devised the first methods of quality and statistical analysis which would help shape the profession of the quality manager.

    In the 1950s, with his colleagues W. Edwards Deming, Joseph Juran and Philip Crosby, Q. Emmess focused for the first time on eliminating defects, on Plan Do Check Act, and on a cohesive philosophy of quality management.

    Q. Emmess then traveled to Japan to help rebuild its shattered post-war economy and pull off the Japanese economic miracle. He made friends with Kaoru Ishikawa and created the first model of company-wide quality control. His ideas, philosophies and practices steadily became the accepted mainstream all over the world.

    Since then, Q. Emmess has shaped all our lives - and for that, we’ll always be grateful.

    He loved numbers, cars and attention to detail.

    He gave us ISO 9000, Six Sigma and Kaizen.

    He helped us make our companies and products stronger, safer, more organized.

    And he contributed to one of the biggest jumps in living standards and health the world has ever seen.

    But nothing lasts forever. In his later years, Q. Emmess lost that youthful vigor. 

    His work became so integral to modern companies that it became invisible and forgotten.

    Far from the dynamo of exciting change, Q. Emmess became associated with admin, paper–pushing, red tape and rules.


    Trends report finding: 54% of life science quality professionals lose a quarter of their working day to administrative tasks


    He found himself locked away in a little office, cut off from the rest of the business, misunderstood and under-resourced, seen as little more than a certificate on the wall and a checkbox on a sheet. 

    Besides dabbling in the odd spreadsheet or online folder, he refused to give up the manual, time-intensive paper methods he’d developed in his younger years, even as new technology came along and transformed the world around him.

    As such, to the dismay of those who knew him, he often found himself losing information, repeating himself, taking longer to complete tasks, and costing more and more money to do his work.

    With maximum effort, Q. Emmess could just about keep up with the new standards, benchmarks and regulations of the 21st century. But he no longer left himself time for the imaginative and agile forward thinking he’d pioneered in his youth. He began to react to problems rather than having the vision to proactively seek them out, and he started to obsess over paragraphs and clauses instead of patients and customers.

    Steadily, his followers began to accept that his methods could no longer keep pace with the demands of the modern world.


    Trends report finding: quality practitioners using paper-based systems gave their QMS maturity and effectiveness an average ranking of 66%.

    Users of eQMS software gave an average ranking of 75%.


    And so, with a heavy heart, we say goodbye to Q. Emmess. 

    He is outlived by his son and heir E.Q. Emmess, who is understood to be taking the reins of his father’s work while streamlining, energizing and invigorating it for the future. 

    Here’s to the next 100 years.


    Next steps

    Read about more the latest life science quality trends, from department resourcing to technology and management commitment, in our 2022 report.