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Jeff Dewar

Quality Insider

Juran’s Teachings Live On

Episode Three: American Industrial Preeminence and ISO Quality Standards

Published: Monday, April 30, 2012 - 10:41

Editor’s note: This is the third of a four-part video interview with Juran Institute’s CEO, Joseph DeFeo, and hosted by Quality Digest’s CEO, Jeff Dewar. View part one here, and part two here.

Imagine this conversation....

Mary: “You still have to listen to the customer.”

Bob: “But we’re certified to ISO 9000, ISO 14000, ISO 26000, ISO 31000, and ISO 50001.”

Mary: “That’s swell. But what happens when everyone meets the standards?”

Bob: “Then we all can claim that we’re lean, efficient, in control, predictable, and reliable.”

Mary: “And therefore you still have to listen to the customer. Even if they don’t have a clue what they want.”

As Steve Jobs so self-confidently and egotistically, said, “Customers don’t know what they want until we show it to them.” And yet he was quick to state that he didn’t know, either. There’s a great story in Walter Isaacson’s 2011 biography of Jobs, where he is berating a team of designers as they are battling with a new design, and in exasperation they finally demanded from Jobs, “What exactly do you want then?” His reply? “I don’t know yet, you go figure it out.” (Notice the “yet,” quite telling.)

Jobs relied on standards about as much as he relied on the current limitations of technology to dictate what could be, should be, would be, produced in this world—in other words, not at all. He imagined a world in which the species who commanded the dominant position had the intellectual capacity to invent for themselves that which they needed, wanted, and loved—and I know plenty of people who love their iPad, their iPhone, their iPod. That passion for elegance in design and function, and customer product infatuation, was never held back by ISO quality standards, lean manufacturing, or SPC requirements.

In this third episode of my interview with Joe De Feo, president and executive coach of the Juran Institute, we discuss America’s preeminence and of course the perception that we are losing that position. And then standards. Quality standards. And how they can hold you back.

I’ve done many interviews. This is the only one that addresses, after all the talk about standards, whatever their origin (ISO, et al), that it’s still all about the customer, whether or not they know what they want or need yet.


About The Author

Jeff Dewar’s picture

Jeff Dewar

Jeff Dewar is CEO of Millennium 360 Inc., Quality Digest’s parent company. During his career he has presented quality-related topics to thousands of people on six continents, all but Antarctica.