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Creating and Meeting Objectives

I was impressed with the article titled “Creating and Meeting Objectives” (September 2004 issue) by Craig Cochran. This is a subject I have been wrestling with for the past few months.

Cochran’s insights and use of examples enabled me to see the issues clearly and map a process that will allow me to effectively implement the use of objectives in an entirely new and clearly defined way.

Prior to reading Cochran’s article, I only had an idea and a desire to improve our process. After studying the article, I now have a blueprint of how I am going to accomplish one of the key issues to improving our processes.

Thank you for making this resource available.

--Steve Emrick

 

Does Quality Matter?

I want to thank you for the points you raised in “Does Quality Matter?” (First Word, Scott M. Paton, September 2004 issue). It is an article whose time has definitely come. I too am frustrated that price has become the only item to be considered when making a purchase. In our family, we have cut back on Wal-Mart shopping and will no longer purchase items made in China if alternatives are available. Again, thank you for a timely article.

--Emmett Jones

 

“Does Quality Matter?” This is an appropriate question in today’s manufacturing environment and it was well stated in the article. The quality of product must be top-shelf if any organization hopes to stay in the job market. It is discouraging, however, to see American OEMs transfer jobs from highly quality-conscious organizations to low-quality, off-shore manufacturing environments for the sake of higher profit. These same OEMs deny their suppliers the profits required to maintain and enhance their systems for the production of improved product at lower cost. American manufacturers have spent billions for world-recognized quality registrations and product enhancement systems, just to see their contracts get transferred to off-shore competition. Quality is also a team relationship between OEMs and suppliers, working toward the same goal with mutual respect for each other’s success in producing a world-class product. It is time for patriotic OEMs to prove their loyalty.

--Ronald Housley

 

Purchasing decisions are more than selection based upon price. This was one of Deming’s concepts that has been ignored and will haunt us in the future.

--Jim Trandel

 

I think you hit the nail on the head. I have learned over the last few years that price is not everything because you get what you pay for. When I went from working in a manufacturing environment to an administrative environment, I thought I wouldn’t have to worry about quality any longer. What I have found is that I am leaning heavily on many of the things I learned about quality in the workplace and through my college education in management. Attention to quality where I work has transformed the use of courier services that did not care what their drivers looked or smelled like to a company that puts its employees in uniforms and behind the wheel of company-identified vehicles. Attention to quality has helped us identify cost savings in how we deliver our product while keeping the same level of service. Attention to quality has given our sales team an edge over the competition because we deal with vendors that are ISO-registered. This becomes a great selling point. We live in a society that asks, “What’s in it for me?” The answer is keeping customers and gaining new ones. Quality can never be overlooked.

--Bill Loe

 

I couldn’t agree more with the article titled “Does Quality Matter?” I think the people of the United States are making huge mistakes by allowing businesses to do these types of things. These businesses make their money on the American people. Why can’t they hire American workers?

It seems to me that quality is no longer an issue in this country. Everything boils down to the almighty dollar. In order to keep costs down, quality programs are left by the wayside. The American people need to wake up and realize that they cannot have the best of both worlds. If you want a quality product, you have to pay for it.

--Vicky Waskiewicz

 

Quality matters only to those who can recognize it or have the discretionary income to purchase “better.” Wal-Mart is an example of cost vs. quality. The only quality Wal-Mart strives for is that its products not be returned. This is fine for those whose shopping experience ends at best price and out-of-the-box quality. You also opened the door to the question, “Is quality so good that there is little differentiation?” That really is true for many goods if you have realistic expectations. I myself will go to some stores I hate but that offer equal products at a lower cost. Price is a big driver, and with the middle class squeezed more and more it becomes even more of a driver. It seems that a market-driven, capitalist society prefers more for less even if it destroys those in occupations affected by the compelling nature of lower prices.

--William Teat

 

I agree with some of the content of your article, but when it comes to outsourcing and the solution to buy American, I think you are a little naïve. In many cases, there isn’t an American-made alternative anymore because that alternative company is no longer in business. In addition, because many Americans have been outsourced out of higher-paying manufacturing jobs to lower-paying servicesector jobs, they don’t have the luxury of paying for a higher-cost item to support American business.

This is also an argument of business ethics. Is it fair for greedy executives to make even larger profits or bonuses for themselves at the expense of the American worker? Is it acceptable to go to a country where there are no labor, safety, and environmental laws, just to make a larger profit to buy that third or fourth luxury car or that beach-front condo?

Government helped get us into this problem with laws like NAFTA, and they should be accountable to change the law and balance the scales so the American worker has a competitive chance against foreign competition.

--J. Vander Laan

 

Quality has always been No. 3 to (1) political and (2) economic factors. Here in Canada we used to have two national airlines. One had a great quality culture and excellent service; the other had no quality culture and the experience of flying with them was noticeably worse. However, the better airline made some poor or unlucky financial moves and it ended up on the ropes. Quality was secondary to economic decisions. The lower-quality airline was also in bad shape. Eventually it came down to a political choice. Air Canada is closer to the government and it was the one that survived. Quality was secondary to political factors.

Our profession is like Abraham Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs” in the same way that self-actualization becomes operative only after we’ve satisfied our needs for shelter and food. Quality management only makes a difference when economic and political requirements are not the major factors.

--Andrew Smith

 

Errata

There were two misstatements in the News Digest article, “Canadian City Receives ISO 9001 Registration,” which appeared in our September 2004 issue. First, the city of Fredericton, Canada, is not a “small town” or the “smallest North American city to be recognized with registration to ISO 9001.” In fact, Fredericton has 50,000 residents, and is the second-largest city to be registered to the standard. Second, it did not take “five years to complete the auditing process,” as mentioned in the article. Fredericton began working toward certification in 1999. We apologize for the errors.