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How Do I Fault Thee…

While reading “To Err Is Human; to Forgive, Divine” (“Quality Curmudgeon,” Scott Paton, May 2008), I wanted to stand up at my desk and say, “You tell ‘em Scott!” It’s so very annoying to me that people are willing to go to the ends of the Earth to point out others’ mistakes, as if they make none--ha! We all do, and if there is someone out there who hasn’t, his or her time is coming. I am a quality manager, and it is especially annoying to me that when I do make a mistake (which is almost never, of course), my co-workers are sure to drag it out and carry on for days, because how dare the quality manager make a mistake! Again, we are all just human, regardless of our position or title.

--Carol Gullick


I run into some fellow quality professionals that I swear live for finding fault with everything and everyone yet offer no ideas for improvement. Someone once told me (I am not even going to attempt to determine where the quote came from): “The definition of a quality professional is one who goes into war after the battle is lost and stabs the wounded.”

--Robert J. Fowler


At least you know that someone is paying attention!

As an instructor teaching quality classes during the evening, I would occasionally see that some participants were having a hard time focusing on the task at hand. One of my favorite tactics was to slip in facts that didn’t fit, arithmetic errors, etc., just to see if some were paying attention. Correcting those mistakes often was enough to rejuvenate a pretty lethargic crowd.

I don’t see your attribution error as significant in the least, but the number of responses, if not the content, should bring a smile to your face.

--Phil Clay


Right on, Harrington

Jim Harrington, as usual, is right on the mark (“The Decline of U.S. Dominance--Part 2,” May 2008). I have a slogan that is posted on my office door: “Performance: The highest level you can expect is the lowest level you accept.” Thanks for telling it like it is.

--Jim Krikau


Harrington’s editorial on the state of affairs in the United States and our declining role as the dominant economy is worth reading. We must, as a nation, wake up and become more responsible. If we lose the technology war, we can’t expect our leadership in other areas, such as sports, medicine, or agriculture, to continue.

--Chuck Ramani


AS9100 and Reducing Auditor Variation

I would like to take the opportunity to provide follow-up information and feedback regarding the article “AS9100: Reducing Variation in the ICOP Scheme” (Sidney Vianna, May 2008).

I think that Vianna did a good job of summarizing the issues today, and I welcomed his upfront and very pointed discussion related to auditor variation and the issues that we face in our ICOP sector scheme.

However, I also think that we should offer some clarification on the scope of this variation and remind stakeholders that there are very positive things going on in the ICOP sector scheme as well.

The International Aerospace Quality Group--Other Party Management Team (IAQG OPMT) has analyzed failure modes during a detailed FMEA exercise, and we are aggressively updating industry standards to provide clarification and revising assessment tools (AS9101) to assist aerospace auditors with audit conduct and reporting. The IAQG OPMT is also looking at ways to improve auditor training and increase auditor competency.

Also, the article, as written, may have presented a very negative perspective to our regulatory agencies and suppliers that may be wanting to supplement their subtier supplier control with recognition of ICOP certificates.

I know that all stakeholders in this process are working very hard, putting in long hours, and striving towards continual improvement. Again, we need to state the positive as well as the negative.

--Timothy Lee


The article by Sidney Vianna was complete and covered all aspects, except the auditor’s point of view. As a certified auditor with 15 years of experience, I have to add that auditors cannot verify variation in performance 100 percent of the time. In every facility there will be critical aspects that auditors will miss and/or that the supplier will hide from them.

--Victor Khosrowian


Lean Roots Unrooted

Your article on lean and the Toyota Production System (“Lean Roots--A Quick History Lesson,” Jerry Feingold, May 2008) totally ignores the critical contribution of the late W. Edwards Deming to the success of Toyota. Shoichiro Toyoda, chairman and former president of Toyota, said: “Every day I think about what he meant to us. Deming is the core of our management.” (For additional comments from Toyoda, see the article “What Deming Taught Toyota,” at http://managementwisdom.com/weddechofqua.html.)

As a professor of management at American River College in Sacramento, California, I place Deming’s teachings at the core of the effective quality effort. It would help if your articles better reflected the true history of quality management.

--Ardel Nelson

Editor’s Note: The author’s original and lengthy manuscript did reference Deming, MacArthur, Ford, and many other influences on Toyoda. The article had to be edited for length, however, and since the thrust of the story was the history of the Toyota Production System and lean, and not the history of quality, those sections were edited out .