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Devolving Quality

Thank you for the article "The Devolution of Quality" (Roderick A. Munro, Ph.D., April 2007). It's one of the most salient articles I've read in years. It has always amazed me why we have to reinvent the wheel every decade or so. The "Lessons learned" portion was also right on. It's too bad that, in most cases, they aren't learned. There is, in larger organizations, room for sophistication, but many small organizations seem incapable of wanting to learn the small lessons first.

--Robert D. Pilot


Overall, Mr. Munro made several good points and I enjoyed the history lesson. My organization just had a discussion on subgroups for control charts for untrained personnel this week. I have several 5S projects right now, and I'm amazed at how cleanliness, organization and preventive maintenance have decreased our defect rate on these projects.

Thank you for a good article.

--Carla Konzel


What Do Customers Want?

In the April 2007 issue of Quality Digest, Jack West asked, "Do customers know what they want?" He answered, "Yes, but they don't always tell you." I find that often to be true. However, in a significant number of cases, I would answer, "No, but sometimes they think they do anyway." Quality professionals often work on problems that are misstated by the customer! The problem usually occurs when the customer specifies a certain product or product property, instead of simply stating wants or needs. A key component of the solution to this problem is teamwork between customer and supplier, something that's easier said than done.

--Kurt Anderson


More on Customers

"Pesky Customers" (Denise Robitaille, http://qualitydigest.com/iqedit/qdarticle_text.lasso?articleid=12048) addressed a good topic that is not acknowledged in the field. There are many customers who do a lousy job of specifying their requirements. The author overlooked what I believe is the real key to this dilemma: A well documented and thorough contract review process that resolves all open issues prior to initiating the order. Contract review is when the problems should be caught (when possible) before they result in poor performance ratings by your customer.

--Brion Nantista


Measurement Matters

"Automatic = Accurate, Right?" (Frederick Mason, http://qualitydigest.com/iqedit/qdarticle_text.lasso?articleid=12049) is a very good discussion of variation in the calibration/measurement process. Another important consideration in using measurement data is the fact that technology is being improved constantly; consequently, "older" data may not be as accurate as current measurements. This is especially true in data taken over a period of years. Knowing when to screen out suspect or outlying data points can be key to arriving at an accurate representation of the state of a system.

--J.M. Drake


Quality Living

The article, "Value-Added Living," by Praveen Gupta ( http://qualitydigest.com/iqedit/qdarticle_text.lasso?articleid=12037) is a wonderful representation of reality. My compliments to the author, and kudos to Quality Digest.

--Dheeraj Mehrotra


"Value-Added Living" is a very interesting article. I tend to live my life as a "quality process" although I haven't put the process into the types of categories named by the author.

Very thought-provoking! I hope that people will take it in the spirit in which it was written.

--Lori Blande


Great idea! Even if the list is revised, it would still show how to positively evaluate life.

I just finished a great book by Robert I. Sutton, Ph.D., called The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't (Warner Business Books, 2007). I was surprised by the title, but I have long advocated that most companies need to start with better human resource management, and that quality and performance are greatly affected by the personal-interaction dynamics of any organization. No improvement initiative will succeed in a negative environment. This book points out the destructive influences in organizations that need to be dealt with before value-added living (and working) can take place.

--Mike Hall


Kalmar's Camel

"How Far Would You Go For a Camel?" (Bill Kalmar, http://qualitydigest.com/iqedit/qdarticle_text.lasso?articleid=12030) really hit the nail on the head. I am subjected to wretched service on a fairly frequent basis and believe that many of us have come to think of this as the norm. I am an operations manager and must frequently remind our employees that we don't just make a product. We have customers that we serve every day, whether we see them or not. The only reason that we are here, and the only reason we get a paycheck, is because of the customer. Employees complain because production schedules "don't make sense." Of course they don't. We aren't here for our convenience; we're here to address the customers' requirements. We are in a commodity business that eats up companies continually. We survive because of the value we add to the product, such as order reminders, remembering birthdays and anticipating our customers' needs before they even think of them.

--Judy Jones