The June issue was excellent. I marked numerous articles, checked out the Tacoma Deming site, nodded my head in agreement as I read the cover story and showed the Godfrey and Blanchard columns to colleagues. I have a just-purchased copy of Gemba Kaizen on my desk and saw the Imai interview in your magazine. And I smiled at the many questions that I could have answered in years past if I had the process capability article.
Keep up the good work.
-- John Fechter
The Future of Quality Professionals
You asked for predictions [First Word, June 1997].
I predict someone will try to theorize the quality profession out of existence. Similar to how some religious groups theorize everyone that needs religion already has it, so they discontinue their outreach.
I predict the quality profession may then resurface as a new revival of the old principals or some new world order.
I predict a whole new battery of documents relative to the current dilemmas will be generated to explain our current set of theories to address the situation.
I predict someone will discover ages-old documents already written that wholly describe, in very simple terms, what philosophy works and what psychology it takes to carry it to fruition.
I predict the whole cycle will continue to repeat itself on higher and higher levels of technology and lower and lower levels of human behavior.
If you don't believe me, go and perform regular internal audits on what you thought was a perfectly functioning system.
I predict someone will rediscover the golden rule and make it their latest quality trend.
-- Terry Judah
Senior Quality Systems Administrator
Hitachi Computer Products America
The Future of Quality Managers
Just as fear and intimidation are not excellent control methods for knowledge employees, neither is dictatorial mandate of quality. If a product is not made correctly the first time, then it can't make an "A+". Only something less. Inspections are necessary not for "A+", but for something less. Therefore, if excellence is to be made, then inspections should be a waste of time.
Unfortunately, humans are involved and practicality prevails. The goal is to educate the human about what excellence is and how often it is expected. From this we see that quality stems from education. Whether that comes from a consultant or an on-site employee appears to be a moot point.
As for the future of quality managers, I can't put together a logical connection that shows a need for a quality manager. But then it depends on the definition of what a quality manager is. I use this analogy: After you determine the product or service, a large, complicated business requires two components. One component is a building to work from, and the other is an orderly process of the stuff going on inside.
Just as the building has an architect, so the business needs an architect. After the inside business begins operating, you need only monitor, control and maintain it like any complicated activity. The original designer goes away, only to return if you need to do major rework or to start another business. As for inspections, if we eliminate the human, then we are a long way toward eliminating the inspection and achieving excellence.
-- Tom H. Skeen
Greensboro, North Carolina
Another Quality Prediction
The quality profession will either be energized and renewed by seminal thinkers who have the courage and initiative of Deming, along with his tenacity of purpose through years of obscurity and disdain from those who should have listened sooner, or else that same quality profession will calcify into another insufferable, self-perpetuating bureaucracy that values itself far more than anyone else does.
-- Mike Gantt
Chief Quality Officer
The Most Critical Tool
I can't help but comment on Adrian Furnham's statements in the article "Outsource Training?" [News Digest, June 1997]
First, each situation in making outsourcing decisions is different. To comment that, "Of all the parts of the organization to outsource, the training department should be first," reflects thinking of 10 years ago and sounds a lot like a statement that an academic without experience in training management would make.
The effectiveness of the training function, if focused on performance improvement and management, can become the most critical tool available to effect major organizational change. Indeed, if the department consists of trainers waiting by the telephone to receive their next assignment -- as opposed to a proactive department focused on performance management -- Furnham may be correct.
At KeyCorp, a major regional bank located in Cleveland -- with 1,400 branches from Alaska to the coast of Maine and 30,000 employees -- organizational change would grind to a halt without a state-of-the-art performance management and training function that can react just-in-time as a critical member of the management team.
Don't get me wrong -- we have outsourced key functions of our training operation, such as training administration, appropriate portions of training development (not design) and training delivery. But to make an all-encompassing statement that "all" training in every organization should be outsourced shows a lack of real-life experience in the training and performance management business.
I have been lucky enough to build major performance improvement programs and design departments from the ground up for numerous major banks, including KeyCorp, Society Bank and Wells Fargo. The key to success in each effort has been linking the development methods to the business objectives. Training and development functions that have done this have become key partners in successful organizational changes. To not be aware of this business potential is a disservice to the training and performance management profession.
-- Kenneth E. Harper