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Mike Richman

FDA Compliance

It’s All Your Fault!

Why make a buck when you can just pass one?

Published: Thursday, November 12, 2009 - 07:55

Here at Quality Digest, we get a lot of mail: Some of it’s critical, some of it’s praiseworthy, some of it’s cantankerous, and some of it’s challenging. All of it is insightful. And then, every once in awhile, something comes along that simply... well...

The following was sent to us from a reader who shall go nameless, for obvious reasons. It is reputed to be a note from said reader’s boss, a kind and caring sort for whom, obviously, there is no “I” in “blame.” We cannot vouch for the note’s veracity, but can tell you that it was written in shiny gold crayon and adorned with butterflies, flowers, sunbeams, and little “I heart you” signs.

Judge for yourself.

Dear Quality Worker Bee:

So here we are again… coming up on the end of another lousy year. What the heck happened? Remember 12 months ago, when you made that presentation to me and the board about how you were going to revamp our quality systems and drive improvement through the culture of the organization? Don’t give me any of this “management support” stuff, either… we gave you five whole minutes on the agenda to make your case, and most of us listened kind of attentively, even though I personally had to pee really bad. And what did we get for our efforts? Sheesh, we’ve had MORE defects, MORE rejected shipments, and MORE inventory backlog this year than last.

I don’t think that you’ve shown the proper appreciation for how lucky you are to have a job in this economy. Hey, we did you a favor by laying off all your colleagues and support staff and consolidating their jobs into yours. We CHOSE to keep you, remember that, and this is how you repay us? By leaving the office at 7 p.m. and only working every other weekend? What’s the matter with you? For crying out loud, don’t you realize that for you, every day is a half-day? (12 hours… that’s half a day, right?)

This is a great opportunity to demonstrate your resiliency, your flexibility, and your dedication to the company. Sure, there’s been a freeze on raises and a slow but steady reduction in benefits over the past year or two, but things could be worse. Your job could be outsourced to some guy named “Pete” over in India. Or the whole factory could up and move to China, where nobody cares about emissions, or sustainability, or unions. Now THERE’S a group of workers who appreciate any meager benefit that management deigns to toss their way. For $10 a day, how can you go wrong?

I know what you’re thinking: Deming says different, it’s not the workers who are the problem, management is to blame, blah, blah, blah. Well, red beads, schmed beads as far as I’m concerned… everyone knows that if the quality of our stuff is messed up, it’s all your fault. Heck, you’re the quality guy, aren’t you? Just fix it… do one of those RCAPA thingies and figure it out. Nobody cares how.

Oh, by the way, don’t mess with our core production processes. They’re just fine, thank you… I should know, because I designed most of them myself just 15 or 20 years ago. It’s not like the manufacturing world’s changed during that period of time, right?

For example: Last month you complained to me about how our nonconforming products needed to be better separated, because those idiots in shipping (again) sent stuff to the customer that never should have left the floor. How does that happen? Geez, the process couldn’t be any simpler: When a batch is rejected, you just move it someplace on the dock  where there’s some room, place a little sticky note saying “don’t ship” on it, and then report back to me so I can alert the shipping manager (when I remember). Clear as mud, no? But you want to waste your time redesigning a perfectly good process like that. And you wonder why nobody likes quality people… you’re always blaming someone else for your own shortcomings.

Whatever happened to taking personal accountability, anyway!?!? You’ve really got to work on that.

Let’s touch base on this again when I get back from my cruise next month.


The Boss


About The Author

Mike Richman’s picture

Mike Richman


A real Boss wouldn't put this in writing.

Real Bosses beat up their underlings orally: most frankly one-on-one, but sometimes in group/staff meeting settings. The only stuff that gets recorded in writing (if anything is recorded) is vague code-words indicating displeasure but not the real reasons.

Its everyones fault -Real world

Quality Control
Some of the best things i faced

No finacial support - reason no budget
Why do calibrate Test certificate?

When its revenue issues... who is the quality guy to stop our invoiceing or clearing for dispatch... who has authorised him to interference with other depatment issues...
This is only a few to name

Delightful, but…it can’t be from the Boss

First, it is too polite and erudite. There is not a CEO or GM who could write something like this and have it be so saccharine. Where is the boss language? Where are the four letter words, the threats and the outright blame toward the “Quality Guy”? A real top manager would not “suggest” that your job could be outsourced, he/she would tell you to provide a list of quality outsourcing companies.

Second, the person knows far too much quality lingo to be a real Top Manager. The Boss even spelled Deming’s name correctly and mentioned red beads in the same context as management responsibility.

Finally, the boss knows when you leave at night and that you are in every other weekend. How could that be when we all know that bosses work 9:00 to 4:00 Monday through Thursday and 9:00 to 2:00 on Friday.

You should write a book...

Seriously, you should solicit similar horror stories from your readers and publish them! Please do it. This reminds me of the stuff people used to post on Scott Adams' Dilbert site when he ran a reader forum. Like the web designer who was denied internet access. Memories of my former bosses:

> The one who told me I had an unhealthy attachment to the Truth - his tone suggested that "truth" was a four-letter word.

> The one who said "You Black Belts sure like to solve problems, don't you" with a note of incredulity. His underling took me out to the floor, explained in detail what the root cause of Problem X was, and didn't bother to verbalize the fact that no-one was going to do anything about it.

> The one who ordered me to find a way to accept thousands of potentially hydrogen-embrittled components and didn't care how I did it. Destructive testing, anyone? The same boss snorted after our guest, the Lean Guru, departed following his pitch. "Takt time! Give me a break."

> See above: their favorite Electroplater, the one who embrittled all the parts, said to us "Send them back - I'll bake them at no charge" which is like saying you can reverse a pregnancy.

Great idea!

Thanks, Dave.... that's a terrific idea! So, to anyone who has a moronic boss, don't suffer in silence... share your sorrow with thousands of your fellow quality professionals so that we can laugh at him/her behind his/her back. I strongly encourage anyone reading this to send me any nasty notes or ridiculous requests from bosses who insist on exhibiting their ignorance of quality issues. No names are necessary. E-mail them to me at mrichman@qualitydigest.com.