Bruce Waltuck’s article, “Shaping Quality With Logic,” (Last Word, December 2004 issue) presented a definition of quality that can only lead to confusion. I’ve been in the quality business for over 40 years, and I’ve never figured out why it’s so difficult to define quality. My brother, Phil Crosby, gave the profession an exact definition to control or improve quality: “Quality is conformance to the requirement.” That’s it! Quality is an absolute; a product or service either conforms or it doesn’t. Consider the field goal kicker in football. The requirement is to kick the ball between the uprights. If the ball reaches the objective, it’s quality and points are awarded. If the ball sails anywhere else, it’s something else. Quality work either conforms to requirements or it doesn’t.
Bruce Waltuck’s article, which I assume was written to add clarity and understanding to quality in business, unfortunately adds more complex fuzz! Does it make sense that complexity theorists are going to add anything but complexity?
--Michael W. Young
Your article “Navy Requires Quality, Lean Training” (News Digest, Laura Smith, December 2004 issue) reminds me of the approach the Navy took implementing Total Quality Leadership in the early ‘90s. A great amount of effort, time and taxpayer dollars were spent on training numerous personnel. These individuals, including myself, were told to implement the material, tools and techniques without a tangible plan of action. I hope the lessons learned from the past go beyond “some inspiration and understanding” for Navy and Marine Corps leaders.
I read with interest your recent article “Does Cheap Registration Cheapen Registration?” (News Digest, Laura Smith, December 2004 issue). In the past two years, I’ve performed about two dozen vendor/supplier qualification audits. Of those, approximately one-third were for ISO 9001-registered companies. I was commonly informed by the audited organization that the auditors would perform the audit by performing a “desk audit”/document review. Rarely, if ever, did the auditors observe/verify implementation of the quality program on the production floor.
Conversely, I observe and verify production activities. I request a copy of the supplier’s quality program and review it before arriving at the facility. If all I was going to do was review procedures, I’d stay at home. It’s sad that some auditors have cheapened the audit process. They are doing a disservice to their profession and to the audited organization.
--Paul B. Hale