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Kristine Bammert

Quality Insider

Don Dewar Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

He brought quality circles and many other employee-involvement techniques to the United States

Published: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 - 07:42

Donald L. Dewar, founder and president of QCI International and Quality Digest magazine, was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award on Oct. 27 at the Visual Workplace International Summit 2010 Conference in Salt Lake City.

Dewar is recognized for bringing quality circles and many other employee-involvement techniques to the United States, and for espousing quality practices, standards, and principles around the world.

Don Dewar, left, receives his Lifetime Achievement Award at the Visual Summit from Gwendolyn Galsworth, center, and Paul Olsen, right.

From Canada to the United States to Japan

He was born in Saskatchewan, Canada, in 1928, immigrated to the United States in 1951 to seek his fortune, and was promptly drafted into the U.S. Army, where he trained as a radar repair technician. When he finished his commitment he became a clerk for the Southern Pacific Railroad and attended California State University, Fresno, earning a bachelor's degree in engineering. After graduation he secured a position at The Boeing Co. in Seattle and moved his growing family to the Pacific Northwest.

Dewar received regular promotions at Boeing and soon returned to California for a job at Lockheed Aerospace, where he headed Lockheed's Management Association. He earned his MBA from Santa Clara University in 1966, and in 1973 went to Japan to study "something" called quality control circles, and the "daring" ideas that employee teams are effective. That trip to Japan—which many consider the first time executives from the United States went there to learn instead of the other way around—resulted in the start of quality circles at Lockheed. Within two years, the company had 15 quality circles, realizing nearly $3 million in savings (a savings-to-cost ratio of six to one). As word of this success spread, other aerospace firms adopted quality circles, too. Within seven years, more than half the Fortune 500 companies had quality circles of their own in place.

In 1977, Dewar co-founded the International Association of Quality Circles, which later became the Association for Quality and Participation (AQP). In 1978, he started QCI International, the training, consulting, and publishing firm.

Dewar has written, produced, or collaborated on more than 300 articles and papers, 66 books, and 93 videos—many translated into eight languages. Three of Dewar's books sold more than a million copies each. He started his flagship magazine, Quality Digest, in 1981.

Over many years of service, Dewar has spoken to tens of thousands of people in 25 nations and has personally helped hundreds of companies worldwide implement employee involvement, quality circles, and quality improvement processes.

Taking inspiration from Dewar and his work in quality circles, Jagdish Gandhi founded the World Council for Quality and Excellence in Education in 1999. At the most recent conference in India, 24 countries participated, with 188 schools taking part in the presentations and competitions.

"Don Dewar has not just brought quality circles to America," Ghandi says about Dewar. "He has helped India bring quality to education and to the children of India—and around the world. Of all the great men—the great improvement gurus—who have helped the World Council on our journey, Don Dewar is among the greatest. He is, first and foremost, a man of quality."


About The Author

Kristine Bammert’s picture

Kristine Bammert

Kristine Bammert is Director of Operations at Millennium 360 Inc., Quality Digest’s parent company. Prior to this, she spent two decades in the avionics industry, implementing advanced training systems across the globe that focused on quality and performance-based outcomes.


Don Dewar - a lifetime of Quality for Management and People

Have worked with Don since 1984 and have treasured his incredible knowledge and insights to the historical aspects of quality, management and people but also the clarity of selecting the right 'tool' for the right job. He showed me a 16mm film called "Right First Time" when I visited his office in Red Bluff. I still use it today as I brought it to Australia and people are embarrassed that the concepts shown and as Don and I discussed, are still pertinent today and I suspect always will be. Hi Quality Circles and TQ Manuals, Texts, Video's change much of quality training here in Australia and Asia where we work. His Practical Statistical Process/Quality Control books were outstanding and easy to understand, by all people at whatever level. Congratulations on his award and trust his convalescing in Arizona is enjoyable, Michael W McLean