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Questing for Zero Defects

“The Quest for Zero Defects” (Mike Richman, April 2005 issue) was an excellent article, except for the next-to-last paragraph quoting Quality Is Free. The quote compares dropping babies to a typo in a letter. It’s hardly the same thing; in fact, it’s a stupid analogy. It’s like the airlines using the number of people killed vs. the amount of miles flown. Using that example, my company has achieved zero defects for 25 years since we have yet to kill anyone. Anyway, it was a very well-written piece.

--Andy Pecota


Do You Know What Your
Software’s Doing?

Thanks for the article “It’s 7 PM… Do You Know What Your Software’s Doing?” (Randall Johns and Robert Watson, April 2005 issue). I especially loved the statements, “Although these applications make it much easier to run analyses, they do not come with the ability to choose the correct tool or interpret the results,” and “The most complicated part of running an analysis is organizing the data.” The second is true, organizing takes more thought and is more time-consuming.

--Jie Qiao


A Quality Life

I am concerned with the blind acceptance of Taguchi Methods within the United States (“A Quality Life,” Laura Smith, April 2005 issue). One reason is that much of his life was devoted toward developing principles and philosophies rather than practical applications. There have been problems with Taguchi consultants not finding root causes to chronic production problems, only to be fixed by others using applications that still haven't been widely accepted in the United States.

One prime example has been the work of Dorian Shainin. Unlike Taguchi, Shainin spent his career developing practical methodologies based upon tough quality problem-solving. I thought Taguchi was the best until I went to Dorian’s seminar back in 1992. From then on, I’ve been a disciple of someone whom the United States still hasn’t readily accepted. For me and many others, his works are far better, simpler and more practical.

I think it’s time for Quality Digest and other quality institutions to recognize real success based upon the actual accomplishments. Quality heroes haven’t been recognized properly. It’s time to give the likes of Shainin, [Shigeo] Shingo, [Alan] Mogensen and others their due.

--John Sladky


The article “A Quality Life” provided an excellent summary of Dr. Taguchi’s life and outstanding contributions to quality and productivity around the world. It also brought back many personal memories of knowing and briefly working with Dr. Taguchi and his son Shin at the American Supplier Institute in Dearborn back in the 1990s. Thank you for this insightful article.

--Bruce Simpson


The Way of Wal-Mart

Did Scott Paton send this article to anyone at Wal-Mart? (“Has Wal-Mart Lost Its Way?” Last Word, April 2005 issue). The head guy there needs to see it. Every instance like this comes down to management. None of the managers want to work the night shift so, in effect, no one is minding the store. There needs to be a responsible person on every shift, and the overall manager should be in the store at different hours to ensure the responsible person is doing his or her job. There needs to be someone from Bentonville periodically stopping by to check on the overall manager.

I’ve looked at www.walmart.com and could not find a method of complaining. Maybe they are getting too arrogant to think someone would have a complaint. Like Scott, I wonder what Sam Walton would have thought of that.

--Melvin Lester


I agree wholeheartedly that Wal-Mart has lost its way! Customer service seems to have vanished, especially when you need it the most. I’m sure that every company would like to reduce labor costs, but at what expense? I’ve grown so tired of being ignored at the Wal-Mart in New Albany, Indiana, that I refuse to go there ever again. I have four children and believe me, the prices are attractive. However, I believe it’s necessary to teach my kids the importance of being courteous and respectful to people. The Wal-Mart shopping experience doesn’t support these values.

--Teresa Medley


Great article. I shop at Wal-Mart only if no other retailer in town is open. I have never had a positive experience shopping there. I have found that the local merchants may be a bit higher in product costs, but you get much more in the way of customer service, along with higher-quality products.

--Bob Kem


It sounds like [Paton] is a whiny person who doesn’t realize the capability of a Wal-Mart greeter. It’s a simple case of getting what you pay for. I could get mad at a person working at Burger King for messing up my order, but I realize that they’re working there for minimum wage. Not exactly a rocket scientist!

Maybe the author should shop at Target, a company who gives nothing back to the community and is run by the French. I bet that would make him very happy!

--Name withheld


Editor’s Note: The Target Corp. is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The company states on its Web site that it gives more than $2 million weekly to U.S. communities through programs for education, the arts and social services.