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Holy Six Sigma!

Wow… "The Church of the Six Sigma" ("First Word," Dirk Dusharme, April 2006). I smiled, chuckled and then outright laughed through the reading. I grew up in a Southern Baptist church, so this was really identifiable to me, but more than that you hit the nail right on the head with all this business about Six Sigma and TQM. Thanks for such a wonderful sense of humor about a sometimes boring, overemphasized, redundant and misunderstood topic.

--James D. Vail

Editor's note: To present why some were offended by the piece (our sincere apologies to those who were), we have included an edited version of an e-mail discussion with one of our readers.

While I can appreciate the fact that Mr. Dusharme is attempting a humorous column, I believe that his analogy to soundly biblical-based teachings (referring to "tongues") has succeeded in crossing the line in this instance.

The article represents Christianity as a religion of big-haired preachers who hold their hands out at every opportunity and fleece the flock, as this is what many have seen time and time again on television.

Ultimately, I am concerned that the article continues to perpetuate an incorrect understanding of what Christianity is and what it really means. Perhaps this comes across as a little harsh. If so, I apologize. I appreciate the fact that you took the time and showed the concern to respond to me. I enjoy the magazine and find it most helpful.

--Frank Taylor


Satisfaction Guaranteed?

In reading about the ISO 9001 registration for Sears ("Sears Delivers a Better QMS," Pam Parry, April 2006), as a retired quality control manager and a consumer of Sears products, I find it quite interesting that Sears passed ISO 9001 requirements. I had an experience with Sears and a five-month-old refrigerator that I find appalling.

Four days to fix a refrigerator that is only five months old is totally unacceptable in today's world. But that's what they gave me until I made many, many phone calls to many, many different people within Sears.

I cannot understand how Sears was given an ISO 9001 certificate, given the experience I had with its service department. It doesn't even come close to the 9001 requirements for customer satisfaction.

--Carol L. Morgan


Catching the Wave

In Laura Smith's article "Riding the Offshore Wave" (April 2006), she touched on a very real scenario whereby companies easily consume any perceived cost advantage in sourcing offshore through grossly mismanaged projects that "reduce the quality of the customer experience, dilute the brand values of the company and fail to deliver cost savings."

I believe that this is the point in the process where good quality professionals can make their programs find their bite, first by capitalizing on cost-saving opportunities in waste reduction vs. sourcing offshore; and second by bolstering effective advance planning and supplier quality development for cost-saving opportunities that ultimately do go offshore. The risk is the perception that it's easier to invest poorly in offshore price reduction than it is to invest wisely in domestic waste reduction. Which one would be perceived as easiest in your organization?

--Troy Nesselrode


Quality Thrombosis

I have just completed reading "How Serious Is the Health Care Problem?" ("Performance Improvement," H. James Harrington, April 2006). I have been a nurse for more than 30 years and would not want to be a floor nurse for love or money. I did my duty before nursing was dominated by technology. Although all of these errors were committed by individuals, I have to wonder how much technology (or our reliance upon it) may have contributed. We still need to retain our basics, like the "five Rs" (right medication, right patient, right dosage, right route, right time).

--Deborah Denno, R.N.


I'm disturbed by your recent columns in Quality Digest regarding health care. Some of your comments seem inflammatory and sensational--meant to arouse irrational response, not valuable improvement. As an example, take your reference to the significant Heparin overdose. The error would definitely have caused the internal bleeding--however, by virtue of the error and the bleeding, it wouldn't have caused the clot. Those actions are mutually exclusive. If you expect to retain credibility, please have someone with process knowledge provide you with some oversight.

--Joan Nixon

Editor's note: We don't know the specific details of the case; however, there is a common adverse Heparin reaction that, ironically, can lead to clotting rather than prevent it: Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia.


Semiconductor Quality

ISO/TS 16949's lack of flexibility regarding which suppliers could be accredited was a major drawback of the automotive industry's transition from QS to TS and caused a lot of grief within the semiconductor supply chain ("Semiconductor Quality Initiatives," Chad Kymal and Praveen Patiyasevi, April 2006).

We at EKC Technology didn't want to lower our quality standards by falling back to ISO 9001. The solution that we reached with our auditor was to be audited to ISO/TS 16949 with the goal of a certificate or statement of compliance with the standard, and to also become ISO 9001-registered at the same time. This has been well received by our semiconductor customers.

--Bob Sherrill