'Quality' Is Not Dead - A Term paper - Survival of quality (your job)

Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#1
I gave this a read and it was interesting. Reminded me of my college days so many years ago... Comments?

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Date: Thu, 26 Nov 1998 01:53:38 -0500
From: Johan MAERTENS mineral.maertens wmich.edu
Subject: Quality is not dead.

--------
Thanks to everybody who expressed their concern for the survival of quality (their job).

Based on some recent literature review and your comments I resume:

Quality: Where are we?

There are several visions on the status of quality and they are disparate.

In the review of the 1997 Industry Week Census of manufacturers plant and corporate surveys (Taninecz, 1997), Brady assumed that today 'quality is a given' in order to compete in globally intensive markets. The Industry Week Census survey shows that this may be a false assumption. Over one third of the respondents consider quality programs only as somewhat critical or not critical at all to the achievement of world-class manufacturing. Quality seems not yet a given.

Even more, Stratton (1997) discussed the reduced interest for quality training at universities. They phase out quality minors and have little interest in an education quality system themselves. Companies are downsizing or eliminating quality assurance and quality control departments. The days of massive quality organizations in production facilities or corporate headquarters are outdated. There is still a role for the quality professional but it will be different.

Many view quality as a dying fad that never worked. Quality Progress reader Crystal (Stratton, 1997) fears that the US may be in a situation similar to the period following World War II, when advances in quality fell by the way aside. While quality has become deeply ingrained in some organizations' cultures, others believe it is going away.

In a time with a prosperous US economy, I feel that some companies get (too?) relaxed about quality, without totally forgetting about it. The first priority is getting as much as possible products out of the door. Shareholders fear an economical recession (Asian economical flue) coming to the door and try to get as much as possible wealth in the short term. This increased short-term financial pressure reduces the organizations' focus on quality.

I get support for this from consultant Marino (Quality, 37:8): "Times like now, when economic conditions are good =85 companies have very high profitability and start looking for ways to cut things to increase profitability to a higher level and, more often than not, they will start cutting quality." US manufacturers are letting their quality procedures slip, thinking things are so great that they can coast.

It may not be until we are in a period of economical recession that organizations will rediscover the advantages of quality and embrace them again to improve the bottomline.

Another measure of reduced popularity of quality is the decreasing number of applications for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. They peaked some years ago, but organizations seem to loose interest in quality.

When I take a broader view of quality versus time, I can come up with some views on the status of quality.

1. My first viewpoint is seeing quality as a wave. In this respect, I apply the life cycle approach to the quality movement. Quality is old - compared to the speed and shortlivedness of today's business methodologies - and we may have crossed the maturity phase and be heading now in the final decline phase. Quality is not (yet) dead. We see little developments and just some small variations on a theme.

Spencer (1998) suggests that we became used (immune?) to the quality stimulus. He writes "Over time we have gone from quality as a non-existing but wished for condition, to quality as a source but desired condition, then to quality as an available and anticipated condition and now to quality as a common and accepted condition."

2. My second viewpoint is seeing quality as a diffusion process. Not all organizations adopted quality method at the same time. Some organizations were quick to adopt the new quality concept - Japan in 1950s and 1960s, US in 1970s and 1980s - while others waited and still wait. The Industry Week Census (Taninecz, 1997) shows that over two thirds of the responding organizations have achieved 'some implementation' quality programs. The late majority is now getting into quality and the laggards may be able to keep it off. QS 9000 requirements boost a whole consulting industry for the Big Three automobile manufacturers' suppliers. More and more contractor organizations at various sublevels in the supply ranking get on board of the quality train.

Tamimi and Sebastinelli (1998) report about their survey on Total Quality Management. In 1997, the average period of involvement for a surveyed sample was three years and three months. As Total Quality Management is a long-term process, these efforts can dominate quality at the start of the 21st century. There is also diffusion in the acceptance and implementation of quality throughout the different economies in the world.

3. Another viewpoint suggests that quality is a cyclical approach to management. The cycles are maybe not as short as the market and economic cycles we see in industrial cycles. Instead, such cycles may correlate more to the human generation cycle (Taninecz, 1997). Each generation, in the name of progress, tends to reject some of the ideas of the previous generation. When we assume that quality got foot in the US in the 1970s then one human generation later we arrive in the 1990s. That could be a plausible explanation of what is happening now. We could be in a stage where quality is no longer the 'in' to do for younger managers. Quality is in a decline because it is no longer exciting or failing to produce quick-fix results. Ultimately, only a few new organizations pursue quality today before the arrival of a champion or a new need to revive the approach with a new twist.

In analogy with the business process reengineering methodology, Harrington (1998), the quality project cycle time could be too long in this decade of speed.

2.3 Quality: Where are we going?

The American Society for Quality Control Futures Team identified key forces to forecast life in the year 2010 (Luther, 1996). The drivers of change will be:

- values such as environmentalism, ethnic nationalism and loyalty
- globalization
- a new workforce affected by demographic shifts and contingent
workers
- continuing impact of the information revolution
- customized marketing to meet customer needs
- leadership
- expansion of quality into new sectors
- the embedding of quality in all aspects of work

It is not surprising to find reference to quality twice in the identified drivers of change by the American Society for Quality Control. They seem to believe in a future for quality, and so do I. I think quality is here to stay. However, it will not be the same quality as before.

I will not consider organizations that think quality is a fad or those organizations that lag behind in quality implementation. The companies with management believing in the future of quality (albeit cyclic) are the focus of my forecasts in the rest of this term paper.

In the next century, we can expect organizational structures to change. Modern bureaucratic, static organizations will give away to more flexible, smaller unit structures. These develop swiftly around a particular product demand and dissolve in the declining life cycle phase of the product to create a new structure around a new product. We will even see more cross-functional teamwork to reduce cycle times for product development. Several differently skilled people will work together to a common goal.

Continuous business process reengineering to leaner structures will permanently change the process and the ways to control their quality. Work simplification, automation, reengineered processes and other approaches demand fewer quality professionals and other quality management structures.

This permanent change of structure will be a major challenge for quality management systems. The systems like ISO 9000 are based on static and bureaucratic organization structures. Management and quality people will have to be creative to reorient their quality management systems to keep up with the speed of the ever-changing organizational structures.

Stakeholder expectations will change too. Management should align stakeholder needs with quality management system goals. All stakeholders must be considered, not only customers and suppliers, but also investors, the community and the environment. Radder (1998) points out that intensified competition and development in a turbulent environment necessitate a shift in the quality mindset to also include providing delight to all stakeholders by offering them superior value and satisfaction beyond what is expected.

With quality organizations reduced by costcutting measures, downsizing and rightsizing, the maker of the product is now responsible for the quality of the product (Dedhia, 1997). However, can quality be everyone's responsibility? It is common knowledge that a responsibility assigned to everyone becomes nobody's responsibility. To survive and to achieve long-term quality performance in the future, total quality should not be controlled by everybody (read =A74 below).

In the same line of thought about self-control of quality, I raise two more issues. First, I refer to the previous remark about the reduced number of applications for the Malcolm Baldrige Award. Drensek (1998) thinks more organizations use the criteria for self-assessment. Second, I hear about major companies that are no longer willing to pay large fees for quality audits to their consultants because they do not add value. I believe it is human nature that prevents people from auditing themselves. This is why organizations always have an outside accounting firm audit their financial statements, approvals are required for expense accounts and organizations cannot certify themselves to ISO 9000. These practices do not imply that corporations suspect their own accountants of dishonesty, but are only an acknowledgment that people cannot be totally objective when auditing themselves. Of course, self-auditing is a logical way to prepare for an external audit (Hoerl, 1998). In the next sections, I explore two potential quality management/management quality methods for the future:

1. six sigma: new challenges for organizations advanced in quality management and

2. Total Quality Management: the integration of quality into management. Total Quality Management in the future will redefine quality roles for every organizational member.

My statement implies that Total Quality Management is not buried in the line of past management fads like Management By Objectives or Business Process Reengineering (read below).

next sections: omitted

Johan Maertens

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D

Don Winton

#2
I have read this paper several times and each time I find it more and more interesting and fascinating. Great post, Marc. Some comments.

Many view quality as a dying fad that never worked.
Like many, I see the term ‘quality’ as some arbitrary term used, too often, as a description of this-or-that system that may, or may not, actually reflect upon the product. I believe that if more organizations would use a systems approach, they would be much better prepared to actually address ‘quality’ issues.

Also, many organizations see quality in terms of product quality. They believe that only quality of product out the door matters. This is probably (IMHO) where the ‘dying fad’ thing came in. It is much more than that. When system management tools are properly used for all aspects of an organization’s operations, increased product quality, productivity and profit follow. In all probability, if it ‘never worked’ it was not applied properly.

…the US may be in a situation similar to the period following World War II…
I feel this is probably too true. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it (or something to that effect). The paper makes an interesting point about many organizations. It is only when things are ‘tuff’ that begin to focus on systems management as potential solutions to the current woes. But, when things are bright again, they fall back into their old paradigm. This is called the ‘Shangri-La Syndrome.’

It goes something like this:

Things are bad >> Fire the quality manager >> Hire new quality manager >> Things are getting better >> Things are good >> Things are great! >> We do not have any problems, why are we spending so much money? >> Things are bad. (Start Over).

It is common knowledge that a responsibility assigned to everyone becomes nobody's responsibility.
I agree here in part. This normally falls in the ‘lack of comprehension’ category. The organization’s CEO or President or whatever kicks off a new quality program with much hoopla and fanfare. “Quality is everyone’s responsibility,” he exhorts over and over. But then, he fails to give clear, defined leadership. He fails to clearly define goals and objectives. He fails to offer the flexibility required for most of these programs to work. In other words, he does not practice what he preaches. And, that trickles down the spout. Soon no one cares about his ‘pet program’ and that is where the failure lies.

But, then again, how could he practice what he preached? How could he know? Who taught him? Sun-Tzu said, “One who, fully prepared, awaits the unprepared will be victorious.” The inverse of this is also true. One who is not fully prepared and awaits the prepared (entropy) will certainly not be victorious. I have the following excerpt from a Winston Churchill speech on my office wall. It reminds me that entropy will never give up.

The Enemy

“Remember, we are confronted with a foe who would without the slightest reluctance destroy us by any method open to him as he gets the opportunity. We are fighting a foe who would not hesitate one moment to eliminate every single awareness this afternoon if it could be done by pressing a button. We are fighting a foe who would think as little of that as a gardener would think of smoking out a wasp’s nest. We are fighting a foe of that kind and we are locked in a mortal struggle. To fail to be destroyed. Not to win decisively is to have to fight it over again, probably under less favorable circumstances.”

Then there is this from an old Celtic saying: “Whenever you first encounter the enemy, you must win or die.”

Entropy will never give up? Well, neither should we.

Just some humble ramblings from an old warrior.

Regards,
Don
 

Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#3
I post these 'gems' now and again as thought provokers. To some degree I liken the authors to 'pundits' - they have their views.

I see quality as a part of a whole. There's an evolution of sorts where the Quality word is of its self. There is a big difference in quality as it applies to diffrent industries and well as different company sizes and to different products and processes. ISO9000 has been, and continues to be, an attempt to provide some systems 'basics' applicable to all - and to a large degree succeeds IMHO.
1. six sigma: new challenges for organizations advanced in quality management and
2. Total Quality Management: the integration of quality into management. Total Quality Management in the future will redefine quality roles for every organizational member.
I'm not sure how either will affect a 45 person metal cutting shop for which volume is 1000 pieces a month of any individual part. Just like capability and minimal flash or mold alignment are not terribly important to an injection molding company making tiny toy soldiers which are packaged and sold 20 or so to a bag. At least not as important as if their product is a car dash board.
I believe it is human nature that prevents people from auditing themselves. This is why organizations always have an outside accounting firm audit their financial statements, approvals are required for expense accounts and organizations cannot certify themselves to ISO 9000.
I DID like this comment. Of courswe, it's practically a by-line for me as I continue to complain about institutionalizing Internal Audits the way the QS forces are doing. They remind me of false prophets: "I promise you if you put a bunch of people through out internal auditing registration process (and pay us mega-buckeroos), all will be fine." I look at the ISO-Serve list-serve and I look at this forum and think - Wow! What ass holes. Registratrars can't agree on interpretation not to mention individual auditors and they're telling me their course will enable internal auditors to interpret QS and that this will help me. Hog wash!

But that's another rant.

The bottom line is for each company there is a combination of things to consider. Don - your attitude is basically to fight and win in your business - which I agree with - and you take a path which has a foundation based upon 'being ready for anything'. In large part I see this as the acceptance of other ways and of acceptance of the evolution of a business.
Even more, Stratton (1997) discussed the reduced interest for quality training at universities. They phase out quality minors and have little interest in an education quality system themselves. Companies are downsizing or eliminating quality assurance and quality control departments. The days of massive quality organizations in production facilities or corporate headquarters are outdated. There is still a role for the quality professional but it will be different.

Many view quality as a dying fad that never worked. Quality Progress reader Crystal (Stratton, 1997) fears that the US may be in a situation similar to the period following World War II, when advances in quality fell by the way aside. While quality has become deeply ingrained in some organizations' cultures, others believe it is going away.
When I read something like this I think of the way I see things now. Quality is not a pure 'occupation' such as a HR specialist enjoys. Todays quality professional must be one of those who understands the business as a whole - purchasing to design to maintenance to shipping - and how each interacts. In the same way companies must evolve. Any company which allows 'quality' to fall by the way side will, its self, fall. Me? I say survival of the fittest. Let 'bad' companies die.

To use myself as an example, I am a 1 person company. What would ISO buy me? What is quality in what I do? If I pass out a questionaire after a course it's just an opinion poll - they typically don't know what 'should' be in that course. I sign up for Stat-A-Matrix and AIAG courses to 'benchmark' courses I give. On the other hand let's take a quickie at implementations. How do I judge quality there? What part do cost and a registration success play when a client declined to follow all advice? Who run seriously behind on the plan? Who don't have enough resources? Bottom line is I do what I can and if folks aren't pleased I (my 'company' - not me persoanlly, or at least so I hope) will die. What I do changes continuously with some exceptions (smile, be nice, etc).

And it's no different with a big company as far as the basics go. Motorola listened to an internal guru who said "Digital cell phones will not go over" and they have been seriously hurt by Nokia, Erricson and others. With big companies there are just more (many, many more...) things to consider. I do not think Motorola has a quality problem, though. They make pretty dependable, long-lasting, rugged products.

Now take Nokia - they made a good strategic decision to design and make digital cellular phone. But - I took one from ATT and the display went out. Got another - the display again went out. Got an Erricson. Terrible sensitivity. Hardly worked anywhere. Batteries hardly lasted 8 hours. Ended up with another (damn) Nokia. And look at ATT - you can only use Nokia or Erricson phones on their system when other manufacturers like Sony and Sanyo make more fully featured products.

Survival is not by 'quality' alone. And much has to do with our perceptions.

Todays quality 'professional' is an accountant, an engineer, a production specialist, a design engineer, a statistician, a materials management and packaging person, a seer and shaman - you name it.

In so far as quality failing - Ummm, don't think so. Companies are still fighting and winning. Look back 30 years and ask yourself how many things are build better than then.

End of ramble. For now. Back to life.

[This message has been edited by Marc Smith (edited 03-09-99).]
 
D

Don Winton

#4
Don-your attitude is basically to fight and win in your business-which I agree with-and you take a path which has a foundation based upon 'being ready for anything'. In large part I see this as the acceptance of other ways and of acceptance of the evolution of a business.
Right on the money. I have for many years now taken the Sun-Tzu, Celtic and even some Klingon philosophies into my business (and personal, for the most part) life. Whether the enemy is poor quality or poor business practice or having to deal with plebeians and morons on a daily basis (previous employer, not now, fortunately), all must be attacked with the same vigor and determination as in an actual battle. Win or Die. BUT, this does not mean that inflexibility (rules of war) must also be applied. Adaptation, evolution and flexibility are also key. If a business is to survive it must be flexible. Just ask Burroughs Computer or the turn-of-the-century buggy whip manufacturers.

As far as being ready for anything goes, that is also key. I have always emphasized and maintained that one key to success is to know the answers to questions (enemy’s battle tactics) before they are asked (before you are attacked). Know what the customer ACTUALLY WANTS, not what he THINKS HE WANTS. Just as you would study and analyze an enemy’s strengths and weakness, analyze your customer’s wants and needs. Just as knowledge of the enemy assures success in battle, knowledge of customer’s wants and needs assures success in business. “Whereas an army destined to defeat fights in the hope of winning but without any planning.” Sun-Tzu

Today’s quality professional must be one of those who understands the business as a whole…
Agreed. Quality is not just inspection or measuring every 5 of 100 widgets to determine a measure of acceptance. Nor is it strictly ‘conformance to requirements.’ It does not apply strictly to shippable product. It must be understood that success depends on understanding that any business must be, as a whole, superior to the sum of its parts. Statistically speaking, this is an impossible task. The sum of variation cannot be less than all input variation. Therefore, you must assure that each part is the best it can be. It serves no purpose if a superior product has lousy support or the inverse, superior support but a lousy product.

Also remember that poor quality is not the only enemy. There are your competitors as well! “Terror and ruin, murder and blood, the rage of the Gods in heaven and below the earth I will carry with me, I will bring the curse of extermination to the standards, weapons and arms of the enemy.” Celtic Battle Cry

Today’s quality 'professional' is an accountant, an engineer, a production specialist, a design engineer, a statistician, a materials management and packaging person, a seer and shaman - you name it.
And a Wizard. Just some humble ramblings from an old warrior.

Regards,
Don
 
B

betterlife

#5
I view quality in its broader term covering all aspects of any business. The product quality is an element of this all-compassing concept. As far as product quality is concerned, it is an in-thing now, a proven fact or else the business would not have been there.

All management tools earlier used for improving the product quality can now be used by re-focussing them to improve other aspects of the quality. Quality today has two major dimensions, in-side-quality (IQ) and outside-quality (OQ). Whereas OQ involves satisfying all interested parties located outside the company - customers, banks & financial institutions, people and society; the IQ is to be achieved to satisfy interested parties located inside the company - management, employees (interlinked by various processes in the form of a customer-supplier chain), work environment, human relations, occupational health & safety.

The best approach is the Process Approach to achieve IQ and OQ.

So in the end, I can say that "Quality Is Not Dead". It has acquired a new role.
 

JWenmeekers

Wishful thinker
#7
Quality is not dead…lucky.

I see everywhere quality systems, methods, procedures, instructions, audits, auditors with a personal view on the interpretations of norms.

Quality systems has to go top down, QA manager has to be in the top level of management, etc.

You can make a QA system as big and complicated as a gas factory, you can make it as simple as a little drugstore, when the attitude of the people ‘on the floor’ is wrong, every system has a potential to fail.

I found here that the attitude of people is ‘wrong’. The economy evolved in such a way that nearly nobody feels it as a responsibility to do his/her job ‘right the first time’.
If the job is done right (with effort) they get their pay check, if the job is done wrong (less effort, is easier ) they get their paycheck. So, why bother…why do the effort…why seeking to approach the zero defects, even other objectives…

Nearly nobody feels it as a personal responsibility to do a task good, right, clean, as it was for themselves. That’s why we need a ‘system’ to force them.
Is it right, don’t think so. But what is the alternative.

See during WW II, the workers found it a personal responsibility to deliver quality products, because the ‘users live’ could depend on it…where is that attitude now…

The interest in the job now is not the product, not the company, it’s the paycheck.

I found that in smaller companies, when talking to people, you don’t really ‘need’ a QA system implemented ‘from above’. Here quality, in all the aspects is not dead. They know when they deliver poor quality the company will be out of business in no time. Here it is ‘we are working for <<name of the company>>. It’s another story in big companies where the single one can hide in the crowd. Here it is ‘we are working as <<name of the function>>. A world of difference….

I think we have to work at the change of attitude, change of behavior. Do it right, do the effort to do it right the first time, and we will have the quality, always, and quality will never die.

Our job will be just 'steering' in the right direction.

My 2 centavos.
 

Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
Staff member
Admin
#8
JWenmeekers said:
Quality is not dead…lucky.

I see everywhere quality systems, methods, procedures, instructions, audits, auditors with a personal view on the interpretations of norms.

Quality systems has to go top down, QA manager has to be in the top level of management, etc....

I think we have to work at the change of attitude, change of behavior. Do it right, do the effort to do it right the first time, and we will have the quality, always, and quality will never die.

Our job will be just 'steering' in the right direction.

My 2 centavos.
Quite right. In my observation systemic quality management is different now because the systems for manufacturing don't apply line by line to nonmanufacturers. Of these, some are regulated and thus have their own need for systems, namely medical and financial organizations, but for the rest Quality very often means goodness of product or service and employee behavior is still the Grail they seek.

Of course, it is a delicate matter to tell them they need systems to boost that morale and ensure output is what the company needs. I sense the small business leaders locally (the overwhelming majority of employers) want their employees to come ready made with the right attitude, behavior etc. and eschew a proactive role in developing and maintaining it.

That's why I have been reworking myself in Stealth Quality mode, to provide what they want without fear of bureaucratizing (as one boss worded it) their businesses.

I've learned to just be someone else and let my quality background help me through an ability to plan according to strategy, measure results against forecasts, etc. I have recently applied for three Training Manager positions (fingers crossed) in which these quality-related abilities will be very important assets.

It's becoming a world where "Quality lies within, Grasshopper." But it will always need to be understood and managed in some way. Herding squirrels.
 
B

betterlife

#9
QMS is top driven

As ISO 9001 QMS is a top driven management tool, it requires top management of the organization to appoint a senior member of its management as Management Represenaive (MR). It is said that the QMS of any organization is as effective as its MR.

One of the jobs of MR is to make everybody in the organization aware of the importance of meeting customer requirements, and their individual and collective roles in achieving customer satisfaction through providing them the quality product/service which they need and expect. If the attitude of the people ‘on the floor’ is wrong then it should be seen as a failure of the management which has percolated down to the floor. No doubt, such system has every potential to fail. Quality in such an organization, if not completely dead, is certainly on the decline (slow death).

In many organizations where the attitude of people is ‘wrong’, I have found that the root cause is non-commitment or failure of the management. The solution, no doubt, lies in the change of attitude and behavior, but it should start from the top and that too through examples. First, let the management do it right and people down the line will follow and quality will never die.
 

JWenmeekers

Wishful thinker
#10
betterlife said:
As ISO 9001 QMS is a top driven management tool, it requires top management of the organization to appoint a senior member of its management as Management Represenaive (MR). It is said that the QMS of any organization is as effective as its MR.
That's why I focus sometimes on the 'toplevel minus one' = the secretaries.

Take 'the boss' out for several days: no harm done.
Take the secretrary out for a day: chaos.

The hidden person in charge is sometimes the secretary, if you can get that person 'pro QA', the boss will follow.
 
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