I was interested in Scott M. Paton's editorial in the June edition of Quality Digest. He commented on how
programs come and go, and specifically, the subject of Six Sigma's mortality.
It made me think of my book Quality Without Tears: The Art of Hassle-Free Management
(New American Library Trade, 1984), in which I listed the reasons that quality trends like Six Sigma fail even though they often have many useful components:
1. The effort is called a program rather than a process.
2. Management and most quality professionals continually strive to establish the proper procedures and rules to produce
quality. They are easily taken in by new packaging. Six Sigma, for instance, is, in reality, old-fashioned quality control: Measure the process, identify the problems, apply corrective action and
learn to live with acceptable quality levels.
3. All effort is aimed at the lower levels of the organization. You won't find a well-thumbed copy of the ISO 9000 procedures in
management offices. Black Belts are not found in executive dining rooms. The current concentration on cost reduction by problem identification and correction eliminates concentration on creating
a prevention-centered culture.
4. Quality professionals are cynical. When I laid out the concept of Zero Defects 40 years ago, it was seen as futile and expensive foolishness. It
turns out that it was quite pragmatic. If we only go by what we now know without leaving room for honest examination of new ideas, we miss great opportunities.
5. Training material
is created by the training function. You won't find a practical definition of quality in these materials, because they are written by people who take most of their information from incorrect
books. When we put the Quality College together, it was based on philosophy, not programs. The "Absolutes of Quality Management" are the foundation.
6. Management is impatient for
results. One of the reasons management likes the form of quality control programs is that they allow managers to drag a dead bear into their offices every week. There are lots of problems in
every company (unless it's prevention-oriented), and management takes these as evidence of improvement. They should measure the price of nonconformance and learn the truth.
True quality comes from a philosophy built around creating a useful and reliable organization. It does not come from programs for someone else to do. All you will ever need to
create that organization is outlined in "Quality Without Tears." You can find tools and educational materials to help you build such a culture can be found on the PCA II Web site.
About the author
Philip B. Crosby, a popular speaker and the founder of Philip Crosby
Associates--now PCA II--is also the author of several books, including Quality and Me: Lessons from an Evolving Life
(Jossey-Bass, 1999). To order a number of products, visit his Web site at www.philipcrosby.com or call (800) 223-3932. .