"Dear Boss" (Craig Cochran, July 2006) was a great article that gets you thinking about how to involve top management from the beginning. My company took a different path when we started our ISO 9001 registration. We have three manufacturing plants that underwent the process. Then we brought in our corporate people. We've been ISO 9001-registered for a few years now, but unfortunately, our top management folks were (and still are) on the peripheral edges of the process. Oh, they talk the talk, but don't necessarily walk the walk. They leave that up to their subordinates. We're trying to change their way of thinking, but it's hard. This article brings the whole issue into perspective.
Craig Cochran has written another great article. It needs to be read by all CEOs to help them see the reality of the need for their complete and total involvement in all aspects of quality performance.
What a great article written by Mr. Cochran! His insight and knowledge about quality in general is admirable; frankly, he is one of the future quality gurus, and surely more great articles will be written by him. His style of writing is easy to follow, and his logical flow and marvelous explaining makes any quality novice understand his points.
Editor's note: The last we saw of Guru Cochran, he was wafting gently across the Georgia savannahs held aloft by his huge cranium swollen from the praise of readers.
I am writing in response to the article "Calibrating ISO/IEC 17025" (Michael Bird, July 2006). One of the main concerns Mr. Bird raises is that ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation puts too much emphasis on documentation and not enough on lab personnel competency. How does remote auditing of lab documentation, as part of the accreditation process, emphasize the competency and technical skills of the lab personnel? It seems to me that Mr. Bird's approach supports the idea that anyone with good documentation can get accredited, without the accreditor directly auditing and verifying the important skills of the lab personnel.
--Dirk van Putten
The article on ISO/IEC 17025 recommends crossing over the line between auditor and consultant. While I understand the author's position, the auditor must be careful to stick to the purpose of the audit: to provide unbiased information to the client on the ability of the auditee to meet the required standard. There is a conflict of interest if the auditor becomes the consultant. While it is tempting to provide the solution, this is really not the job of the auditor.
As a consultant, I agree with your article. I'm still trying to figure out the true intent (or bureaucracy) of ILAC, NACLA, APLAC, etc., and how A2LA will not accept traceability from another accredited lab unless it's one of A2LA's own. I tend to focus on the individual lab, its practices, competencies, measurements, uncertainty, etc., rather than the bureaucratic mess of the accreditation and peer-review processes.
The article "TQM, Six Sigma, Lean and… Data?" ("Real World SPC," Davis Balestracci, July 2006) confirmed what I learned in Deming's seminar and from his books. Having suffered through all the evangelism that followed--Crosby, Six Sigma, lean, etc.--I thought that maybe I just wasn't getting it. As you point out in this article, it's all repackaging for profit. The truth hasn't changed.
I could not agree more with the author. I focused my MBA on business improvement fundamentals and often find myself disappointed with the latest improvement fad. I hope that your magazine continues to push the fundamentals and relaxes its push to help consultants make more money (giving the rest of us a bad name). Everyone should read and preach Fourth Generation Management: The New Business Consciousness (Brian L. Joiner, McGraw-Hill, 1994). When they understand this and get rid of the "low-hanging fruit," they may need math to help them determine the next focus point.
Regarding "What's In a Number?" ( InsideStandards, Denise Robitaille; view online at www.qualitydigest.comhref="http://qualitydigest.com/standards/index.lasso"), my company and I have been in business for 10 years. The business was founded as, and continues to primarily be, an ISO standards documentation, training, auditing and consulting company that has worked with almost 80 different organizations in 10 years. My clients and I have always understood the value of logically numbering procedures, work-instructions forms and other documents as closely to the applicable standard's clause as possible. It's only common sense that this would help both internal and third-party auditors as well as customers understand and interpret the system.
--Andrew M. Brody