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Letters

Drivers of Quality

I really enjoyed the article, “Who’s Driving Quality Today?” (Laura Smith, October 2005) but was disappointed to note that there was really no mention of champions for the “softer” side of quality. Perhaps none have emerged. I know that Deming, Juran and Crosby all made a point of emphasizing that while the technical side was absolutely essential, it could only be achieved if based upon a foundation of trust, collaboration, partnership, excellent communications, leadership and teamwork.

Research by the Gallup organization shows that throughout the United States there are vast numbers of employees who are disengaged from their work. Some of the champions included in the article make mention of the fact that quality needs to be taken out of the quality assurance department and placed where it belongs—with those disengaged employees. The question is, how do we engage them?

Does anyone know of someone who is beating the drum for the softer side of quality?

—Brian Ward

 

Up in the Air

I enjoyed reading your article, “A Crash Landing for Airline Service Quality” (“Performance Improvement,” H. James Harrington, October 2005). I’m a business traveler and have had similar experiences. I’ve also worked for an airline and the issue, I feel, is one of living wages. How do you achieve quality when you pay your employees $10 an hour? It’s the old adage about getting what you pay for.

—Paul Carey

 

You’re right about air travel—it’s about lack of quality, not wages and benefits. If customers are treated right, they keep coming back. When that happens, the revenue stream is more secure, and you can fine-tune internal budgets.

—Tim Dyson

 

If you’re into abuse go to an airport!

—George Ward

 

My friend was thinking about a lifetime Admiral’s Club membership. I sent him the URL to this article.

—Len Goff

 

Katrina

I applaud Quality Digest’s article and efforts on “Hurricane Katrina” (“First Word,” Dirk Dusharme, October 2005). I’m the ground safety manager in the Air National Guard. As such, we discuss the limitations of our span of control over National Guard members with regard to safe practices: When they’re not on duty, they’re civilians, and we have no jurisdiction over them (unlike our active-duty counterparts, who can be required to be safe off-duty).

While our span of control may be somewhat limited by our circumstances, there’s no limit to our span of influence. Often, our span of influence can be more powerful than any control.

Keep up the great work on your “span of influence.”

—Dave Sudweeks

 

TAGged

How can you publish that Alka Jarvis will take Jack West’s place on the U.S. TAG when there hasn’t even been an official ballot?

—Dirk van Putten

Editor’s note: We did jump the gun. Alka Jarvis is the only nominee for that position. Nominations close Nov. 7. There were two other mistakes in that news item: Morgan Hall was recognized for his work on TC 176 (not TC 175), and Lorri Hunt’s name was misspelled. Quality Digest regrets the errors.

 

Derailed

I have a comment about the “All Aboard!” article (“Quality Curmudgeon,” Scott M. Paton, October 2005). I don’t know if the author is aware that all freight trains have precedence over Amtrak. If freight needs to get through and Amtrak has to wait, it’s tough beans.

—Martha Greene

 

Something’s Fishy

The fish in the newspaper picture (“Six Sigma Certification: What’s it Worth?,” Roderick A. Munro, Ph.D., October 2005) is quite appropriate for the overhyped certification exercise. Jack Smith and others have touted the value of such programs, but they remind me of the earlier waste of time and money associated with all the TQM/TQL/TQ Speed programs, which are about as effective as methadone programs for heroin addicts. It’s nice that someone is paying for them, but the real value is never anywhere near the expense of the programs.

For the record, I have my Six Sigma certification. I don’t admit it to anyone outside of the company for fear that I will be added to the list of incompetents running the halls looking for the falling sky.

—Tom Kyte

 

You really can’t blame human resources for relying on a certificate. They hire all kinds of people whose specialties are outside their experience. At least certification means that the person has had some structured exposure to the subject.

I do blame companies that don’t have a clue as to what Six Sigma is but still attempt to hire Six Sigma professionals. You can test candidates on their actual knowledge and “fit” to your company. When you bring them in, have them teach a class and perform a high-level analysis on one of your company’s challenges.

—Charlie Carroll