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Is quality dead?

A. Blanton Godfrey pretty much hit the nail on the head in his December 2000 column. Quality may not be dead, but it is suicidal, and the lethal allele is quality management. Management types more interested in short-term gain—a favorable bullet comment on a resume—than in standing up for doing the right things are at the root of this problem. I have an idea that Godfrey's comments will fall on the deaf ears of those who are in a position to turn around the condition of quality across all lines and applications.

—Bob Myers


The executive branch of quality

I found H. James Harrington's article in the December 2000 issue very interesting. He presented much information that would be very useful to candidates who believe government needs to be overhauled, reinvented or approached with a fresh, objective perspective. I had not heard of the degree of slackness of our senators' attendance, very long recesses and adjournments, or inability to agree on a time to reconvene following a recess or adjournment. This is unconscionable. I had also not heard of the Federal Quality Institute of the 1990s. What a shame that it fell through the cracks. It seems quality is very popular only when there is a tangible problem.

 I think Harrington's message is one that needs high-level attention. I don't know how one gets the attention of government officials, but I want to encourage him to try. His article is a start, but we cannot just hope that the right people read it (whoever they are or will be). Planning, and accountability to the plan, needs to be instituted. It sounds like we had some plans, but they dissolved or were forgotten, and consequently there was no planned accountability (or follow-up). I don't want more government, I want better government. And I want lower taxes. I don't want the degree of government I am currently paying for.

 I hope that there are others like Harrington who are influential and share these ideas with those who will be positioned to make a difference. At the very least, it seems that a plan, along with a measurement/accountability plan, would be a way to keep score.

—Bill Hardin


I have not read H. James Harrington's books, but after I read his Dec. 2000 column, I had to ask myself from what planet he might have come. Some consider me an idealist, but I stand (mouth agape) in awe of his vision/confusion.

 Harrington is not the first to propose quality in government, and I doubt he will be the last, but with his life experience… I would like him to direct me to the section in his book that describes a practical method of connecting the way things are with the way things should be, as he sees it. I would like to think that the book addresses how to deal with a Congress that is actively not interested in changing the way things are: Campaign finance reform? Term limits? Election of a wave of reformers? A quality-in-government lobby? Throw the rascals out? I can't connect the dots using any of those.

 One thing that seems to be working, as Harrington pointed out, is privatization (education is an example that I can see), taking things out of the bungling, disinterested hands of government.

 But how do you take defense spending out of the hands of government? Why is it that our government has already paid for a missile system that does not work? Why did the government not say to aerospace companies: "We have approved funds (x billion in a trust) to purchase a working missile defense system. Show us what you come up with." The answer is, as you know, bringing home the bacon.

 Quality in government? Planet, please?

—Steve Strazis


What do you think?

Quality Digest welcomes your comments and questions. Please submit letters by e-mail to ; by mail to 40 Declaration Drive, Ste. 100, Chico, CA 95927; or by fax to (530) 893-0395. Any letters sent to Quality Digest or through us to any of our contributors become the property of QCI International and may be selected for publication in an edited form.

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