The Future of Quality - An Early Discussion


Fully vaccinated are you?
The Future of Quality

This was on a listserve. An interesting comment...


Subject: QUALITY Digest - 19 Nov 1998 to 21 Nov 1998
Date: Sun, 22 Nov 1998 00:00:20 -0500
From: Automatic digest processor
Reply-To: TQM in Manufacturing and Service Industries Discussion List
o: Recipients of QUALITY digests

Date: Sat, 21 Nov 1998 00:06:52 -0500
From: Richard Jennings
Subject: Is Quality Dead or is it Just Ill?

-------- Quality is not dead, but the APPLICATION of Quality is certainly cyclical.

For doubters, I urge you to read Vance Packard's book, 'The Waste Makers', circa 1960. Among other phenomena, Mr. Packard described the panic in the light bulb industry, in the 1920s, when managers realized that production capacity was outstripping demand and disaster loomed. The solution? A cartel pledged to REDUCE the lifetime of light bulbs! Truly, a unique quality solution!

>From 1946 until at least 1965, US manufacturers could sell anything th= at they could make because the manufacturing industries in Europe and Japa= n had been destroyed.

In 1963 at Texas Instruments, we manufactured transistors in massive quantities on single lines. If the device passed all tests, it was sent to the Minuteman missile program; the very last 'pass' station, just before the trash can, was marked 'Japanese Transistor Radios'. By 1980, the Japanese were pillaging the memory market to our anguished screams of 'unfair competition'. In a recent NY Times article it was reported that Japan's economy was now enjoying 'effectively NEGATIVE' interest rates! Anybody want to buy a seldom used golf course at Pebble Beach?

Sure looks like cyclical quality and economies to me!

If you wish to insure that Quality does not 'die', then tie the CEO's compensation package, in part, to Quality AS PERCEIVED BY CUSTOMERS. Watch how fast quality comes to the front! Don't believe me? Check how many Fortune 50 corporations have suddenly discovered Global Warming! And many of them are Fossil fuel processors and users!

On the other hand, if the 'Death of Quality' leads to fewer 'Quality Consultants' and fewer applicants for the Baldrige Award; HOORAY! Now perhaps people can get back to work. And don't all of you Quality Consultants try horning in on my new Global Warming consultancy. Go invent another Alphabet program!

Finally, since I started with a book reference, let me end with one as well. Remember, several years ago, we had 'Management Lessons of Attila the Hun'? Well.......

AT BOOKSTORES NOW: 'Cigars, Whiskey, & Winning--LEADERSHIP LESSONS fr= om General Ulysses S. Grant' described in the book blurb as '250 strategic lessons from General Grant's Civil War memoirs--essential reading for today's business leaders.

A failed soldier, a failed businessman, later the General responsible for the highest casualty rate ever in any one army, and finally, one of the worst Presidents in history.

Truly a model for the new millennium.

Dick Jennings

Date: Sat, 21 Nov 1998 00:18:08 -0500
Subject: Re: Is quality a fad? Is quality dead?

In a message dated 11/19/98 15:41:08, you wrote:
<< My question is: IS THERE A FUTURE FOR QUALITY IN THE 21st CENTURY? What news (or old) should I look for for next century's quality? What will be new to you?
Your thoughts are welcome. Johan Maertens, CSP, MSE Western Michigan University Engineering College

Is quality dead? No, but I think within business it has taken on different forms. IS TQM dead? No, but it certianly doesn't get the play it had.

There are a couple of issues that surround this topic. First, there are more distractions, ISO-9000, QS-9000, ISO-14000. These are certainly quality activities.... the number if ISO & QS 9000 companies are increasing, at it is becoming the price of poker in a number of industries.

Now, I certainly don't believe that a company with an ISO or QS rating is a quality company, but it does say something about the state of their quality system.

As for Baldrige, more companies inquire or use the criteria as a self assessment. They has also been significant growth in state awards that have drawn off some activity from Baldrige.

I think quality of product and service in the market place is as important or more important then ever. However, there are still managers who run corporations who don't and probably won't understand TQM, quality systems, MBQNA, or any of that. They still think that 93% of 14,000 units per day is better than 99% of 12,000, even thopugh the best estimates of the cost of quality in the organization is at or near 30% of sales. Inertia of thought is a tough thing to overcome, regardless of the reams of data avaliable.

Martin Luther King once said (loosely paraphrased), the old guard of any organization resists change since they wear the decorations and awards of doing battle in the accepted manner.

Most companies apprached TQM and all of the other "fads" in the same manner. They found what they like in the idea, regardless of the core assumptions (then usually violated), and had their underlings implement it without their active participation or leadership. Then they expected to have the benefits magically appear without any investment monetary or otherwise. Deming said there is no instant pudding.

Quality is not dead, but quality practicitioners need to communicate in the language of management, demonstrate results, and show that quality makes money both by reducing costs and improving customer value. Is it easy, no!!!!!!

Robert Drensek, CQE, CQA, CRE Quality Engineer


Fully vaccinated are you?
I liked this one as well:


Date: Thu, 19 Nov 1998 10:36:45 -0500
From: Johan MAERTENS
Subject: Is quality a fad? Is quality dead?

Selected citations:

In Quality Progress (Jan 1997) Sowell suggested that quality might be viewed as a cyclical approach to management. I am not sure if quality can be considered cyclical. If quality is cyclical, the cycles are 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. Each generation, in the name of progress, tends to reject some of the ideas of the previous generation.

Alson C.H. Look wrote: My perception is that quality is not as popular as it used to be. As evidence, I offer decreasing applications for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the recent history of layoffs of quality staff, and membership decreases in some ASQC divisions.

Kevin R. Crystal wrote: Quality is viewed by many as a dying fad that never worked. I fear we may be in a situation similar to the period following World War II, when advances in quality fell by the wayside. While quality has become deeply ingrained in some companies' cultures, others believe it is going away. I often note this attitude in The Wall Street Journal, which has tremendous influence on the business community.

Anonymous (1988). Are U.S. manufacturers becoming slackers? Quality, Volume 37, Number 8, August 1998, pp. 12-14 With the blossoming of the American economy, U.S. manufacturers are letting their quality procedures slip, thinking things are so great that they can coast. This is what Bob Marino has seen in many manufacturing plants. Marino is president of Pittsburgh- based TriTech Services Inc., a consulting service. "Times like now, when economic conditions in this country are very good ... 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," Marino said. He added that a bad economy triggers the reverse, causing companies to scramble for ways to improve themselves.

Are U.S. companies turning up their noses to quality? Many manufacturers are beginning to relax, yet they aren't totally forgetting about quality, said David Goetsch. Goetsch notices this with decreasing enrollment in quality classes.

Anonymous (1997). Transformation of quality efforts. Government Executive, Volume 29, Number 7, July 1997, pp. 66-68 TQM is now buried in the line of failed management fads, along with MBO, PPB, ZBB, BPR, and whatever comes next. Management fads deserve a fate like this for promising quick fixes and fast results to problems that have taken decades to create.

But while TQM is dead, the cornerstones of quality-process measurement, customer feedback, participative management and supplier cooperation-are still there. Each must play a key role in future quality improvement efforts.

Most admit that many lessons were learned the hard way-assuming that TQM would solve all problems without realizing that TQM is, more than anything else, an organizational learning process about change and competitiveness. But their experience proves that the commitment to quality management is quite strong, provided there is also a concomitant realization that this is, above all, a long-range process.

Indeed, there is a true bit of a renaissance in quality these days. Jack Welch, CEO of General Electric, is getting some press for his "back to quality basics" philosophy, in which he argues that managers should be evaluated on their quality prowess and awarded different color belts for accomplishments, like karate experts. Imagine managers listing "black belt in quality" on their resumes.

Johan Maertens, CSP, MSE
Western Michigan University
Engineering College


Date: Thu, 19 Nov 1998 21:24:51 -0500
Subject: Is Quality a Fad?

Johan Maertens poses a number of questions about whether quality is a fad, and is quality dead?

I don't think either of these questions apply to manufacturing or service businesses trying to capture market share, or hold onto the share they have. I think the perception of some that quality as a management philosophy or business discipline is in a downturn is due to what psychologists call habituation to a stimulus. We have had so much placed on us as providers and consumers in terms of giving and receiving quality that perhaps we are just a bit overloaded and maybe somewhat reluctant to acknowledge how really important quality is to us in what we make and what we buy.

Johan's comments on the bibliography provided suggested the following picture in my mind. Looking back 300 years or so the task of communicating using the written word was not at all simple. One used a quill pen and a bottle of ink. Certainly, many people who wrote letters and epistles probably Wished for a better quality writing instrument and paper. Then in the late 1800's came the fountain pen with a self-contained ink reservoir. Many people Desired this improvement in the quality of the writing instrument. Then in the 1920's the ball-point pen was introduced as an inexpensive and better quality alternative to the fountain pen. Many more people then Anticipated the better quality, convenience, and price of the ball pen. Today much of our correspondence is done on computers with word processing software and we Accept this capability as the quality solution for communicating quickly and accurately.

So over time we have gone from quality as a non-existing but Wished for condition, to quality as a scarce but Desired condition, then to quality as an available and Anticipated condition, and now to quality as a common and Accepted condition.

When quality was scarce it stood out to the masses; now quality is present throughout most of the products we buy and the services we are given and we as quality professionals have a more difficult challenge in obtaining the incremental improvements. Some businesses may take a rest on their excellence in quality, but a competitor somewhere will work a little harder and an little longer (we call that Continuous Quality Improvement) and thereby gain more of the market share. Quality will only be a fad or will only die out in those businesses that believe their quality is good enough for their customers.

Robert A. Spencer
Business Systems Specialist
Bergen Brunswig Corporation
Tele: (714) 385-6801
Fax: (714) 385-4011

Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!
Is there any room on that soap box? Good point on the attitudes of workers today. How do they feel? What is it about "just collecting a paycheck"? How many of us ask these questions to our work forces? How many know the answers?

The problem is with management. A lack of understanding the system, the focus on $$ and not on Quality. Everyone suffers in this scenario, the workers most of all. They are helpless in workplace governed by "the boss knows best" and organizational charts. No empowerment. After all, what can an ignorant line worker know about the company's problems? Why do you think Deming looked for his answers amongst the workers and not with management? Management doesn't understand the problem. If they did, then they wouldn't still be problems. That is why half-baked solutions meet with mediocre results or worse. Solutions go implemented for a couple of months until management grows board and lets it slide. Funny how these ignorant people figure out that it is a game not to take serious. Are they really ignorant or is management? Tough criticism here for alot of us. Tough to take the truth.

Why does it come down to just a paycheck? I have asked alot of questions here so it is only appropriate that I answer this one with another question. What is left after you have robbed an employee of job satisfaction?

Steven Sulkin

I see several issues pop up during this discussion.

Quality, as a buzzword, is getting worn out. I believe it IS a buzzword as used by many managers. Not that quality isnt a value added tool, but because SOME managers dont know what it is. I wonder how what percentage of managers have had a bad experience with quality. I bet a lot. Our profession is made up of people who had to go figure this stuff out on our own. There were no quality programs in place to tell you what to do. Theres a lot of challenging people issues to go through, complicated policies to challenge, tools to invent along the way. The result is that a lot of companies invested a LOT of money into this quality thing, and either didnt get anything in return, got something in return but never quite understood what they got for their money, or got more than they expected and were very happy. I imagine this last group is very few in number. Bottom line-- quality was a bad experience for many managers because of the maturity of our profession. The question I leave you is how good are you doing to show management the money? Every manager is trained to judge systems based on their cost and benefits. If you arent showing them the money, your going to leave that, "I just bought snake oil," kind of taste in their mouth.

I have been fortunate not to have worked in a Dogbert managed company. My folks care greatly about their work. They just dont have the systems to back them up. I guess I buy into the Deming philosophy. Quality is the work of removing the barriers that hinder the "work ethic." This kind of work (empowerment) requires that decisions be made at the point of control, clear lines of accountability, clear consequences for our work (e.g. SPC), process improvement (removing bad policies), etc. Could you have quality without this? I believe there is more to success that attitude.

This depends on your experience with quality. My opinion? If you dont believe in quality your in for a rude awakening from your competitors. This question is going to be answered in the marketplace and I know where I'm putting my money.

This forum is a start. I mentioned that our profession is immature. The principles and tools of our profession are being developed out in the marketplace, independently. Many of us are reinventing the light bulb, without anyone to show them the way. Its hard to believe, but this forum is only a year and a half old! Where did you go to learn how to implement quality systems before The CQE was some help, but there is still a lot that you have to learn out in the trenches.

I believe we are moving in the right direction. Quality tools and principles will become better defined through discussions like these and will be taught in the college programs that are popping up.

As our profession matures a couple of things will happen:

Successful quality companies will reshape the marketplace by beating competition , and
Quality as a tool for learning integration, continuous improvement, and policy deployement will become a prerequisite to being in the market.

Maybe I'm just an optimist, but thats where I am betting my money.

[This message has been edited by Steven Sulkin (edited 12-02-98).]

Leslie Garon


I find the posts (snippits) very interesting (WARNING, I'm about to get on my soapbox). I also find it particularly interesting that everyone I've read thinks of quality in tems of top down (upper management support necessary), quality is product related only and that it comes and goes. I bring this off the wall viewpoint to the forefront for comment.

What ever happened to the American Work Ethic? I was brought up on a work ethic that said that you came to work, put your best foot forward, did the best job possible (no short cuts, do it right the first time, don't be half assed about it, bring problems out in the open to be solved), and I would be rewarded with job security and advancement.

Unfortunately, I believe I was brought up unprepared for our current work environment. See I was reared on put in a quality day's work and you will rewarded, But that is not the world we live in. We live in a world that rewards the norm, the person that gets along, the person that doesn't rock the boat, the quiet, go with the crowd person. Now I ask you? Does this kind of reward system breed quality? NO.

Management is concerned with product quality, so look at design. This is where alot of consentration has been paid of late. Lets build quality into the design. Afterall, the US is known for innovation of design. But what about our quality mindedness? If I design something and do not pay attention to anything but my own needs, then I design to my own quality level. Does this meet the needs of my customer? Not necessarily. If I'm a manufacturing worker only concerned with producing the quantities required and getting my paycheck, is my qualitymindedness compatable with company quality standards? Does anytbody care? the answer again is NO. Why? because we have a work ethic that is sloppy, focused on getting by or focused on what is owed me the worker (blue or white).

Management cares about quality because the customer perceives quality. The easiest way to produce quality is to build it into the product. Something all of us have heard of for years and tried with some success to achieve. We focus on design, processes and theories that we really don't understand and try to implement. What does it leave us with? A work force that sees a new idea and say's "here we go again". Why arn't we concentrating on the perceptions of our workforce? Probably because most of management thinks that the workforce too uneducated, illiterate and incabable of grasping the simple princible in being proud of putting in a quality day's work. Then again, the meaning of a quality day's work has changed to be just a saying instead of having meaning.

Why do most quality programs fail? Because those working the system don't believe in it and only work the system because it means a paycheck and some socializing. I wish this wasn't the majority, but unfortunately it is. Quality is cyclical, not because of the world economy or management's commitment or lack there of or even the business health of the company itself, but because the people making the product, working with the customer, and supplying parts have lost heart.

Think of it this way, at one time Americans were patriotic. Today most of us couldn't care less, just look at our president and the voting turnout. Quality mindedness is a direct reflection of our own attitudes and priorities. So where are our priorities now? Short term turnaround, short term management style, no cultivation, no trust or unity. We get what we cultivate.

Quality is not a thing, it is a state of mind, if we feel we are quality, then we produce quality and the business community or management can do noting to stop it.


Fully vaccinated are you?
I understand the 'work ethic' as it relates to individuals. I do see top management as the 'KEY' (if you will) because it is those at the top who determine the tenor of the business.

The plant manager of one of my clients grouped the top brass in a meeting and said, "I know quality will suffer and I know output will suffer. I take hit (sic - meaning responsibility) for that. Now - get on with the QS9000 effort." People worked late into the night many, many nights. The plant manager made sure folks had sandwiches and drinks every evening (free, of course) and was very involved. After the audit, food in the cafeteria was free for 24 hours. A band played for each meal time. I was shocked when I was taken out to dinner and given a 'token of appreciation' for my help. The fella really cared about 'his' folks.

More typical is the expectation by upper management that the effort be part of folks regular routine and the expectation is that quality be kept up along with output - which is just plain silly. No snacks or other 'significant' recognition.

While my current view is from the eyes of someone trying to help get systems in and running and such, I think it is valid. I have never had a client (with one borderline exception) where the rank&file were not willing, ready and able.

I personally do not think quality is dead. I cut these excerpts out and posted them as they begged for thought. I was particularly triggered by the first response:

--> For doubters, I urge you to read Vance Packard's book, 'The
--> Waste Makers', circa 1960. Among other phenomena, Mr. Packard
--> described the panic in the light bulb industry, in the 1920s,
--> when managers realized that production capacity was
--> outstripping demand and disaster loomed. The solution? A
--> cartel pledged to REDUCE the lifetime of light bulbs! Truly,
--> a unique quality solution!

Which we know as the 'myth' of planned obsolence.

The only place I see that quality is really dead is in software development where 'bugs' are often described as 'features' as a matter of course, design is not a process, manuals are arcane, tech support is farmed out to unknowledgeable subcontractors and (in general) products are released before they are really tested.

Don Winton

I have been following this discussion with some interest. There have been many valid points raised which I, for the most part agree. Since the original post of the snippets, I have been giving this subject some thought and would like to add my two cents (worth the price or not).

Let me begin with the statement that the word "quality" may not be appropriate. The word, used as a singularity, may be a contributor to the perception of effectiveness (or lack thereof). But, that is neither here nor there.

As most have pointed out, the primary reason for failures in many quality management programs is the fact that they are treated as "fads," not on-going programs that must be attended to each and every minute of each and every day, 365 days a year for their entirety. Many organizations fail to realize this, thus not expended the resources required to maintain them. See if the following scenario sounds familiar:


The current "movement" of quality programs is receiving widespread publicity as an all-purpose remedy for industry's problems. In all essential respects, the effectiveness of the movement is grossly exaggerated; the unsuccessful programs have been more numerous than the successful: motivational programs have a narrow, not a broad range of application: the premises underlying the programs are suspect; the main purpose behind the movement has probably been customer relations, not quality improvement.

The Ingredients of the Programs

Despite some variation among companies, there is a discernible pattern to the programs. They embody two main ingredients, (1) a motivational package and (2) a prevention package.

The motivational package is aimed a persuading employees, especially the production operators, to make less errors. The outward evidences of this package are loud and clear. There is an advance publicity campaign: posters, loud speaker announcements, the bulletin board, and the company newspaper. Then there is a dramatic kick-of in a circus atmosphere, with participation by top management and visiting dignitaries of all sorts: political leaders, community leaders, industry leaders, the press, key customers.

The prevention package is aimed at removal of causes of defects. The programs do not seem to distinguish between sporadic and chronic defects, but the methods adopted are mainly aimed at sporadic defects.


The above is paraphrased from Juran's paper "Quality Problems, Remedies and Nostrums." Although this paper is over 20 years old, many of the points raised are valid even today. It is an excellent read for a reality check for those who wish to take on a quality management endeavor.

But, after all this, what happens? The programs die a quick and silent death. Why? Because after all the hype and hoopla, few, if any, follow through. Many (not all) managers say something to the effect, "OK, my part is done. Let's get on with business."

When I discuss true quality management programs (not simply ISO, QS, TQM, TQL, SQC CWQC or whatever, in and of themselves); I deliver to the top managers of the company a parable. It goes something like this:


An individual is visiting, against his will, the National Art Gallery in Washington DC. With a look of smug cynicism on his face, the reluctant visitor visited painting after painting, until at length, he approached a stately old security guard. "I do not see anything great in these stupid paintings," he said antagonistically, to which the guard politely responded, "Sir, these works of art are not on trial…YOU are!"

After which, I inform management, most directly and firmly, that once they decide to begin the road to quality management, they will forever be viewed by their actions, not their words. The Quality Management System is not on trial, THEY are. Support it and employees will follow. Do not and they will not. Simple, straight and to the point.

Well, that is my $0.02.


Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!
Many interesting thoughts above. It gives me food for thought. Steve, remain the optomist. You are not alone.

Is Quality dead? Marc, your comments on the software industry ring true with me. No focus on delivering a defect free product, just a focus to deliver to the market first. The sad fact is that the customer, desperate to maintain daily business activities, has to purchase this defect riddled software. Solution to the problematic software application - release another half-assed effort to correct the problems of old and give you a new set of frustrations. What is the incentive for software manufactures to produce Quality products if they can get away with this tactic? Pure profit, got you coming and going. Make money inspite of yourself. What a deal. Just like having a monoply. No need to improve, you're the only game in town. Deming said it best, everyone loses in this scenario. The same can be said of most any industry, but software hits pretty hard with Y2K looming and the computer rage so it receives much attention.

I can't help but think that Quality can't be dead. It is just difficult to find here in the USA. It lives with all of us every day of our lives as consumers. We require it in all our decision making. So why is it that something we use daily can not penetrate the business arena? Business is not interested in Quality unless it has an immediate payback. Short-term profiteers know that the best way to show big dollars is by maximization, not optimization. That is why Bill Gates is a rich man. Maximizing output of substandard software by preying on on the Customer. Good business!! Best of all, no accountabiity. What drives the Quality process at Microsoft? You don't have to be better than the next guy, just buy him out and close his doors. Maximize everything! Who suffers the most - the Customer. Where is the Customer focus, where Steve pointed out earlier. The Customer. The Customer should set the Quality expectations for a company, not Bill Gates and his money. Don't worry, Bill doesn't have a monopoly on bad business practices if that is any consolation.

Enough of the pessimist. I'd much rather be an optomist than where my cynics cap. How do we fix this problem? A national Quality culture. How can you change a nation if you can not influence the company you are working in? Educate the young to understand that the future exists in collaboration of Quality practices in the workplace. We may never live to see the fruits of our labors, but this is the stuff that saves nations. Just ask Japan. Being the best in the Marketplace is just a matter of where the chips fall. Someone is on the top of the list, someone on the bottom. Where you are is matter of how you optimize your system for the benefit of mankind which in turn solitifies your position in industry (constancy of purpose). What is the law of averages? Half above, half below (in a somewhat stable process anyway). If all of business works toward raising the bar, with good business ethics, the win-win environment can take over the poor business practices of old. I plan to do my best at raising the bar by participating in information sharing, such as this forum, and by sharing my feelings with just about anyone who will listen. You consultants out there can do the most good, I think, with your wide exposure to all types of industry and services. It all starts somewhere. Why not with us?

Back to the group......


Fully vaccinated are you?
Don: I'm going to use your parable in the future.

I, personally, am optomistic - but then I see quality as a function of technology as time goes on. There will always be REDACTED companies and there will always be giants. Some companies will be stable in their tenor. Others will vary with time.

I have a Mazda 626, 1989 model year, turbo 2.2 liter with close to 275,000 original miles - no engine rebuild. It is a gem. Back in 1971 - the year I bought my first new car, this would have been unthinkable.

On the other hand toasters haven't really made a lot of headway in that time - but they are better than back then.

This may be a bit philosophical (spelling?) and in part it may be that I'm almost 50 years old, but in general I'm pleased with the progression of quality in products that I've seen in my llife so far. I credit this mostly, however, to technology.

I will state that QUALITY is a bullshit term which has little value any more. For a number of years I have told clients to name their Quality Systems Manual simply Systems Manual or [Company Name] Systems Manual.

The issues include design to packaging and shipping with everything in between - and all in all, 'quality' is EVERYTHING as a whole [including customer expectations].

I will also say customer extectations are another issue altogether. In part these are tailored by advertisements and promotional material (such as industry expos and such, but also includes TV and other commercial medium). I just bought a 3Com/USR modem which advertised that Rapidcom Voice software was included at no cost. So that in part sold me on the package. So - I get everything up and running and find that the version of Rapidcom voice software (MicroSmith is the software author, as I remember) included is a 'lite' version, if you will. Which I felt they should have stated. In addition, the users manual included was for the 'full' version - so as I looked at the manual and looked at the software they were similar but there were differences. It took a call to 3Comm/USR to ask how to add mailboxes. They then said it was the 'lite' version. As much editorializing as Bob Metcalfe does (, I'm somewhat surprised. At any rate, their advertisment effectively set expectations which were above what I would have expected (I would have been happy) had they been more 'truthful' in their advertising. Note that this says nothing about the actual product - which appears to be a fine piece of hardware.

Some expectations are more subtle. I upgraded a Compaq computer from windows 95 to windows 98. After that upgrade I kept getting a fault alert "WIN32SL has caused a page fault in module NETBIOS.DLL and will be shut down". My perception of Compaq as a company is that of a well organized, high tech firm which produces solid products and which maintains a well organized and accessable support staff. I call them and ask them about the error. They tell me it's not their file [their search for WIN32SL yeilded no hits] and that some program must have put it in there. As much as I dislike Microsoft in general [this is my first DOS machine in 13 years] I called their Win98 tech support. The guy spent about 40 minutes with me [I paid for the call - not an 800 number but no Microsoft charges] and walked me through a troubleshooting process. I learned an unbelieveable amount about windows in that time. And at the end the guy said he would like a comment of my feelings - did he help me or did he confuse me - was I happy with his support in general. Considering my expectations, and I told him I was not a Microsoft fan - that I am basically a Mac person - I was very, very impressed. I will look at Microsoft with a bit more 'respect' in the future. They haven't made a real supporter out of me, but they definitely changed my view of Microsoft as a company.

3Com support [I called them early in the game assuming program files might be the cause of the conflict] was abrupt and seemed downright disinterested. I surely think less of them for that as well as the 'crippled' software.

The problem turned out to be 2 Compaq-specific files from the Windows95 setup. Compaq should have been aware of this conflict in a Windows 98 upgrade (I can't believe I'm the only one to have the problem). The fella at Microsoft took me thru finally to edit the registry and since I disabled those 2 Compaq no problems - everything running smooth. Guess what I think about Compaq now - thus what my expectations are now...


Don Winton

I am glad you liked the parable. Actually, it is not mine. It is from an old television program. Details are lost now. If I find the reference, I will forward. Anyway, it is amazing some of the responses I get when I toss that on the table. Talk about your "deer in the headlights." Anyway, I find it useful to let them know that an effective QMS is not something that is delegated. They started it, they must finish it.

I also agree with your "QUALITY is a bullshit term" statement. When I observe statements that "quality is this" or "quality is that" it makes me smile. I just wonder who actually defined "quality" as it relates to the particular story at hand. I am going to follow your "systems" suggestion in the future.

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