As I watch the public relations battle between companies that are giants
in their industries, I have to wonder what they're thinking. For one organization to blame another for a nonconformance problem is naive at best. Anyone who has ever tried to determine
responsibility for problems knows that there is never a clear answer. Everyone contributes. As a young reliability engineer, I would chase them around through several departments and suppliers
only to find that no one would ever accept the blame. I would pick and choose.
The companies hop on "quality" as the cause. They beef up the quality department, add a
high-ranking executive, and the CEO goes on TV to show that problems are being solved.
However, they're missing the point. Bad products or service are not the result of bad
inspection or corrective action. They originate in the management-driven culture of the organization. When output takes precedence over proper procedures, the result is a lot of variation.
They then enter the world of "that's good enough" in order to meet output and financial goals, which is why shipments increase as the month gets longer.
Management needs to be told that blaming the quality function for bad results is like blaming the dentist for the results of not brushing. I really thought we were past that. Someone needs
to get in there and explain the facts of life to senior management. They're getting bad advice. Their companies' founders wouldn't have acted this way.
About the author
Philip B. Crosby, a popular speaker and the founder of Philip Crosby
Associates--now PCA II--is also the author of several books, including Quality and Me: Lessons from an Evolving Life
(Jossey-Bass, 1999). To order a number of products, visit his Web site at www.philipcrosby.com or
call (800) 223-3932.