Content By Paul Naysmith

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By: Paul Naysmith

The menu has folded out into four sections. Each page has a picture next to the delicious option; however, I know the server will be taking the menu away from me after I’ve placed my order. I’m pondering how I can confirm that my order is the same as the picture. Perhaps I should ask if they have a quality system in place to guarantee satisfaction?

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What other elements of this restaurant am I relying on? Does the kitchen clean its surfaces per the hygiene code? Is the refrigerator’s temperature set as recommended by the FDA to reduce the risk of bacterial growth? Has the food been sourced from ethically and environmentally conscious sources? Here comes the server. I’ll take the opportunity to ask him a clarifying question or two.

“Excuse me, could you possibly enlighten me on something?”

“Sure can, sir, how can I help?” says the young man with terribly fashionable and precisely shaped facial hair.

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By: Paul Naysmith

Recently I visited the world-famous Tabasco sauce factory on Avery Island, Louisiana. We live approximately 30 miles from the global super-brand, and what else would a quality professional like to do on his holiday downtime than visit a factory to see what lessons he could learn? And my wife believed she’d be going on a nice day trip... well, I did, for sure.

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By: Paul Naysmith

Oh no, it’s happened again! Why do I do this to myself time and again? Do I need to seek help, professional assistance of a psychological nature? I must stop doing this; it’s is as if I don’t have control over myself. It’s a habit. No, it’s not that; it’s something different. It’s worse, a disease like a virus or parasite in my brain: I can’t stop thinking about quality in everything I see or do.

Today my wife found me looking at a document, and although I wasn’t aware I was doing it, I was audibly growling—a literal “grrrrh!”—at the words and pictures on the glossy document in my hands. Sometimes I can’t control my inner quality beast, and when it escapes, bystanders have two options: run fast or improve their process.

“So what has got you sounding like an angry squirrel this time?” my wife said. (Note to self: My inner quality beast must be a small animal.) What had come into my possession was a company annual financial report, along with a corporate social responsibility (CSR) report. Because I was a shareholder, this was the company’s yearly gift to me for investing in my future benefit. In effect I’m betting that this company will perform through time.

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By: Paul Naysmith

My cell phone was vibrating like a dryer set at hyper-speed, and my wife’s name popped up on the screen. My first thought was that something had gone wrong. I did tell her to call only if there were problems with the movers. I was on the other side of town, a prisoner at the Department of Motor Vehicles, waiting for my turn to be seen.

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There wasn’t much I could do if there was a problem, but I took her call anyway. “The removal guys are asking what a shed is,” she said, laughing. To date, that is the oddest statement my wife has made during our monumental move from Scotland to America.

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By: Paul Naysmith

In the business world we certainly like to toss around choice words to express our ideas. I don’t think I’ve ever used the term “strategic planning” in my home or personal life. I can well imagine my wife’s stare of death (inherited from her two teacher parents) if I ever suggested that we “strategically plan our future.” I’d get the stare not for suggesting we plan but for using meaningless business-speak just to say, “Can we talk about what we want to do later in life?”

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When I run into strategic planning, it’s usually attached to a decimal number of years. Perhaps you have 5-, 10-, or 15-year plans where you work. When we plan on serving new customers with new products in 10 years time, we can work back from that point and determine the steps needed to achieve these plans.

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By: Paul Naysmith

My wife and I were waiting near the departure gate at a miniature regional airport in Louisiana when the announcement blared: “Due to weather in Atlanta, your scheduled flight will not be disembarking for 15 minutes.” Dismayed by the news, we exchanged worried looks and prepared for the worst. We had two further connections to make after Atlanta, where we’d be dealing with a layover of 1 hour and 20 minutes. It wasn’t lost bags or missed connections that concerned us; it was the wedding in Scotland to which we’d been invited.

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By: Paul Naysmith

The human mind is currently the most intelligent device you will ever own. However, have you ever noticed how it has a filtering system? For example, do you remember the uneventful drive to the office this morning? I have no idea why the brain “forgets” these things, but in an instant you will be able to call on the memory of your first kiss.

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By: Paul Naysmith

In the mid 1970s to mid 1980s the Punk movement was an intensely bright burning star that fizzled out just as quickly as it came in. As I understand it, the Punk movement was the antidote to the excessive color and pageantry of the Glam Rock scene. Punk music was stripped back, rockin’ in your face, with full-on aggression. If you were really good, the crowd would riot, and fights would instantly break out. Gobbing on your band (spitting in their face) was a sign of appreciation. Those were the days. In the UK, the timing of this new music scene was coincidental to political change and de-industrialization of the British landscape. Disillusioned youth and mass unemployment only heightened the anti-establishment Punk ethos, creating waves of shock across the world, whilst without a care, Punk was flicking the middle finger at authority.

By now (hopefully) you are wondering “where is he going with this column” and “what the heck has gobbing got to do with quality?” Good.

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By: Paul Naysmith

While playing her role as Maria Kutschera in The Sound of Music, Julie Andrews once sang about her favorite things, among which were geese flying with the moon on their wings, doorbells, and brown paper packages. Remembering these things was how Maria would distract herself when times were bad, a useful technique to deploy when being chased by Nazis across Austria with children in tow.

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However, when things aren’t going to plan at work, it’s not kitten whiskers for me; it’s cause and effect diagrams and 5 Whys. You’d think that, with all their talent, Rogers and Hammerstein could have worked those into their tune. (And if you can fit quality tools and techniques into “My Favorite Things,” by all means share your lyrics below; 100 Quality Kudos points for the best submission.)

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By: Paul Naysmith

If W. Edwards Deming could see what you are doing, he’d punch you in the face. OK, not really. He may have been brutally honest in his lectures but I don’t think he ever punched anyone. However, he would have plenty to say about how often one business copies (I believe the term today is “benchmarks”) the good ideas from another business with no thought about context. Why is it in business that if we see an idea from another organization – that claims to have a positive influence on their business performance – we’ll try to copy it?