What Does “Made In…” Mean To You?

This is a guest post by Laurel Nelson-Rowe, ASQ managing director.

ASQ was among the invitation-only participants at a conference this month in Shenzhen, China, that carried an imposing title: “Huawei Big Quality International Seminar.” The brainchild of Victor Li, vice president, quality and operations, for the multinational telecommunications company, the event had lofty goals. It called together quality experts from a number of nations (China, Germany, Japan, the U.K, and the U.S.) and industries (including academia and business) to help define, map the implications, and create the call-to-action of “Big Quality” for the company and for the universal quality community.

In opening what he called a “milestone meeting,” Li said he hoped the sessions—attended by 50+ Huawei leaders as well as his invited guests—would help “build the foundation of Big Quality” and prompt Huawei thinking, planning, and action in areas such as its culture of quality, management systems, and the capabilities of its people, now and in the future. Li said he envisions an “architecture for Big Quality that will be for the globe, not just one enterprise, not just one supplier, not just one country…Big Quality and Big Quality Management Systems will be systems and services delivered through, accessed in the cloud.”

Li and Huawei are not alone in challenging the industry—and ASQ—to change, to rapidly move the tools, techniques, management, and systems ahead, and to develop new approaches and innovate in the era of big data, Internet of Things, industry 4.0 and cloud computing. In a series of country-specific reports, each speaker described the country’s quality root structure, how far the profession, practice, and the industry have come in their native lands, and the barriers and opportunities facing quality, management systems, business, and economies in the fast-change, technology-infused, big-data driven global economy.

I joined ASQ China General Manager Fred Zhang for a panel discussion where the common ground philosophies and the diverse characteristics of countries and of quality surfaced. We were asked to describe what “Made in ____” (fill in your homeland) means.

I’ve captured some of the words and themes (with input from seminar organizers Jack Pompeo, Huawei director for quality and customer advocacy and ASQ fellow, and  Nigel Croft of TCA Global Ltd, one of the leading authorities on the forthcoming ISO 9001: 2015 standard,):

Assurance
Attention to Detail
Brand Image
Competition
Confidence
Customer-Driven
Design
Efficiency
Ethical
Emotion
Feeling
Genuine
Get-It-Right-The-First-Time
Ingenuity
Innovation
Patriotism
Persistence
Pride
Precision
Process-Driven
Standard
Sustainability
Teamwork
Trust

Perhaps you can match the word or theme to the country for a little mental exercise. Multiple answers per country allowed.

But more importantly, how would you fill in that phrase—“Made in ___”—for your country, your culture, your quality? Did it mean something else yesterday? Do you want it to mean something else tomorrow?

To prep for the Huawei event, I posted a prompt on my LinkedIn profile, asking for answers to what “Made in the USA” means today. Lots of views, not too many takers. Now that I’ve added Big Quality, Big Data, China, Japan, Germany, and some voices, let the games begin.

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2 Responses to What Does “Made In…” Mean To You?

  1. Les Huber says:

    Made in USA and Federal Agencies lack of
    Enforcement

    As citizens of the United States, how many of us look to purchase products with the aforementioned labelling? Better question; do those that shop for these products know the requirements necessary to make this claim?
    Made in USA is wholly “owned” by the Federal Trade Commission and is a very simple document to locate and read through, it’s not full of complicated jargon or legalese that only an attorney would understand.
    For the purpose of this article I wish to focus on two of the major components of the regulation: 1) For a product to be called Made in USA, or claimed to be of domestic origin without qualifications or limits on the claim, the product must be “all or virtually all” made in the U.S. (The next paragraph defines “all or virtually all” as all significant parts and processing that go into the product must be of U.S. origin. The product should contain no–or negligible–foreign content). 2) The product’s final assembly or processing must take place in the U.S.
    I recently contracted at a medical device facility of a major electronics manufacturer that labels their products as Made in USA despite the fact that nearly all items used for these life-saving systems are made in other countries (a partial list of which includes–China, India, Japan, Mexico and Singapore).
    Chronologically, I make them aware of my knowledge of their wrong-doing and subsequently reject the parts in my jurisdiction. They discount the rejection and continue on without correction. I file a report with FTC (remember, Made in USA belongs to them). A month or so later I file a report with Food and Drug Administration (the product is a medical device) as I had earlier contacted them and confirmed this as a misbranding issue from FDA perspective.
    Item 2 in previous paragraph is more or less an item of reference in this case, put in simply because I would guess this to be an argument they will try to use as to why they can claim Made in USA but let’s face it they fall very, very short where item 1 is concerned. I also wish to comment on reports of companies that have the assemblies built elsewhere but they install a piece to it here so they feel they can affix the Made in USA nomenclature, obviously wrong (see item 1).

    To date, neither agency has done anything, it’s been more than a year since I filed reports (I found indication of deceptive labelling going back to 2006). I followed up with FTC and received an explanation of “we are a reporting agency, when we get several complaints from different sources, then we’ll investigate”, in fact, they actually told me to go to the companys competitors as they could file lawsuits against this type of activity. From FDA I was told “we’re like the FBI we can’t discuss an ongoing investigation”; as if there were one, confirmed by a later response of “Oh, sorry about the oversight”.
    I have pictorial and documentary evidence as well as various components from the final assemblies.
    I guess it’s true what my friend says “They’ll (referring to the government) come after us (private citizens) for a couple hundred bucks but they won’t go after the big guys for millions”.

  2. Pingback: What does “Made in the USA” mean today? | Quality Time

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