A Pat on the Back For Quality Progress

Congratulations on a superb issue ("The Future of Standards," July 1999). For the first time in years, I read every article and found them all interesting and timely. I may not have agreed with a few of the authors on all points, but they were all worth reading.

Chesapeake, VA

ISO 9000 Debate

Thank you for an enlightening July issue of Quality Progress. I particularly appreciated the comments from J.M. Juran and Blan Godfrey ("What They're Saying About Standards," p. 28), plus the article on ISO 9000 revisions by Amy Zuckerman (ISO 9000 Revisions Are Key to Knowledge Age Excellence," p. 35). Apparently, the debate rages on: Is ISO 9000 good or bad? I would like to offer yet another view based on personal experience.

I was a quality manager at a manufacturing division of Motorola. Unlike many other parts of the corporation, this division was strictly traditional in its approach to quality, rewarding firefighters and treating proactive pursuits as wasteful. Despite that, we were able to upgrade from ISO 9002 to ISO 9001 during my tenure there. The organization that performed the assessments is well known and well respected.

When ISO assessments revealed that corrective actions were required, we implemented them in the minimal way necessary to satisfy the assessors. However, since these were among the very few corrective actions that were ever addressed, they at least received some positive attention. Thus, the division derived some benefit from the externally applied incentives.

Clearly, this is a far cry from a world class approach to quality. We were proof that the gurus were right: Management has a much greater impact on quality than any external standard. Detractors of ISO 9000 would be remiss to blame the standard for its inability to end world hunger.

There also remains the matter of whether the corrective actions targeted our most substantial issues. Sadly, the answer is an emphatic No. At one extreme, we dealt with matters that were truly ridiculous. After one assessment visit, we were told to place stickers on pocket rulers stating, "No Calibration Required." This stupendous waste of resources had become almost legendary throughout Motorola. On the other hand, our blatantly flawed approach to quality made it simple for assessors to identify a number of real issues.

However, the question remains: Did these corrective actions make major inroads in our needful quality system? The response is still resoundingly negative. Let me explain.

Motorola developed a Quality System Review (QSR), originally based on the Baldrige criteria of the late 1980s. As it evolved since then, the QSR has become an excellent means to identify and prioritize the strengths and weaknesses of an organization's entire quality management system. To support a corporate push toward self-certification, I participated on a team that ensured that all ISO 9001 criteria were incorporated into the QSR Guidelines document.

Such intimate comparison of ISO 9000 and QSR led to an inescapable conclusion: The ISO criteria are, to use technical parlance, necessary but not sufficient. In fact, the ISO criteria are vastly, hopelessly inadequate. When Motorola conducted the QSR at my division, our critical weakness--a weakness that impeded customer satisfaction and ate into profits--was almost entirely outside the scope of ISO 9001.

The weakness was also nearly identical to those identified during a QSR conducted two years before. We drew up some pretty looking proposals, but resources allocated demonstrated that upper management's lips and hips were not moving in the same direction.

Here are some of the lessons I learned from this experience:

* Any assessment tool can be made to benefit the customers of an organization whose management takes an enlightened approach to quality. Likewise, any tool will be a waste of resources if management is determined to ignore the findings. It would be grossly unfair to blame ISO 9000 when such a sorry state of affairs arises.

* An external assessment can force an organization to implement corrective actions, and this can be a good thing. Unfortunately, even enthusiastically implemented corrections may be irrelevant to the most pressing quality needs of the organization and its customers. Corollary: ISO 9000 criteria are worthy but woefully inadequate to help an organization achieve world class quality.

* Even a below mediocre organization can achieve and upgrade ISO 9000 certification despite the best efforts of a competent and honest assessor. It's downright frightening to consider what kinds of abuses are possible, and I have heard some horror stories. Considering the existing potential for abuse, it is pure conjecture whether self-certification would significantly exacerbate a situation that is already far from ideal.

In conclusion, I could not identify any way in which ISO 9001 had improved the quality of a single product we shipped; nor did it reduce waste. In fact, unless somebody can produce strong evidence that ISO 9001 certification enabled us to penetrate markets that would have been inaccessible--and the evidence to date has been tenuous at best--a persuasive case can be made to regard the certification process as a colossal waste.

For a vastly smaller commitment of resources, tools such as Motorola's QSR Guidelines provide substantially more value--but only to those organizations poised to act decisively on the findings. Of course, the other kind of organizations can save money, too--by ignoring a QSR instead of ignoring the more costly ISO 9000 assessment.

Andell Associates

Be a Leader, Then You Can Be a Manager

After reading the article Greg Hutchins wrote for Career Corner ("Our Work Future," July 1999, p. 105), I must start out by saying that I have followed Philip Crosby for a number of years and I agree with his statement that quality management is active while quality assurance (QA) is passive. It is more important that a person learns and prepares to be a good manager first and a good QA person second. I believe it is even more important that a person be, first, a good leader, then a manager, then a QA person in order to be an excellent quality manager. There have been too many times when we tried to box QA systems with a one size fits all and wound up with a one size fits no organization properly.

In my case, I started my undergraduate work at 40, earned my BA in business administration and went on to earn my MBA. While I was doing this, I also worked as a quality manager, a division quality manager and a corporate quality manager. I found the management training invaluable to my success as a quality management professional. Now that I learned the basics, I can start on the certification that is offered. These certifications will mean more to me now that I know how to use them effectively.

EXIDE Corporation

Deming and Juran's Influence Is Still Great

This is with reference to the July 1999 issue of Quality Progress. In the Career Corner by Greg Hutchins (p. 105), he began by saying, "Deming is gone and Juran is less active, but Crosby is standing head and shoulders above most in the quality profession." This sentence has either not been phrased properly, or has not gone through any editorial screening because it is written in poor taste.

The Quality Progress issue in July 1998 carried a photograph of Juran on page 12 alongside an article indicating how Juran moved the Juran Foundation to the University of Minnesota. Also, Juran just published the fifth edition of his great handbook, Juran's Quality Handbook, now in its 48th year. Juran appeared in a teleconference in 1996. Anyone who watched that program would say his powers of insight were extremely intact. The reason I feel he has become less active (something I won't agree to) is because he is working on his memoirs. These memoirs will surely be worth reading, especially due to the fact that Juran was the first quality engineer on this planet. His contributions are too great to be listed here.

In regard to Deming--well what can I say? He was rediscovered in his native America at the age of 79. He then went on his mission of transforming management with a drive that was second to none. His System of Profound Knowledge and his 14 Points are legendary. The fact he kept on learning, thinking and working until the day he died speaks volumes of his contributions to the world of quality. In The Deming Dimension, written by professor Henry Neave, my guru and long-distance friend, he states, " ... any book on Deming is bound to be out-of-date before it gets published. I know that ... " He also states, "Most people don't continue much learning or development of new thinking after their 86th birthday. But Deming, as I know well from my meetings with him during recent years, is still learning.... "

Also, there are other stalwarts who are largely unrecognized but continue to contribute to the cause of the quality profession. They are: Genichi Taguchi, Hitoshi Kume, Kosaku Yoshida, Myron Tribus, Masaaki Imai, Tom Peters, Donald Wheeler, Peter Sholtes and so forth. Incidentally, all of these gentlemen were, at some time, inspired by Deming or Juran. In fact Deming is not gone, he continues to inspire people like myself. I never met him, but I was so inspired by his life and teachings I started The Deming Forum--the first body of its kind in India--on Jan. 22, 1999.

Deming and Juran are the grand old men and pioneers of quality. No one dead or alive (with the exception of Walter Shewhart) can stand head and shoulders above these two men. ASQ was formed, I believe, at their behest. Phil Crosby has done his share for quality--I will not deny that. However, I still don't think he should be up there with Deming and Juran.

The Deming Forum (India)

What About SA 8000?

After reading "The Future of Standards" July 1999 issue of Quality Progress, I was surprised to find no mention of SA 8000, the social accountability standard! Most quality practitioners seem to be avoiding SA 8000, even though it would have a broader impact than ISO 9000:2000 or ISO 14000. Amy Zuckerman has discussed SA 8000 in Quality Progress in the past.

SA 8000 is a global workplace accountability standard based on International Labor Organization (ILO) principles, UN human rights treaties and inputs from international business and public interest advocates. It was developed by the Council on Economic Priorities (CEP) Accreditation Agency, an affiliate of the CEP, a nonprofit interest group based in New York and London. CEP is best known for its annual Corporate Conscience Awards and recently participated in a Fortune magazine evaluation of diversity friendly companies.

In 1999, the ILO proposed a treaty, endorsed by the U.S., to ban abusive child labor practices. On June 12, President Clinton signed an executive order prohibiting federal agencies from acquiring products produced by forced or indentured child labor. Two U.S. university based organizations have formed alliances with corporations to prevent sweatshops. One group in particular, the Fair Labor Association, has a code of conduct for apparel factories.

All of these social accountability standards of conduct, initially focused on the apparel industry, require outside, third party factory compliance audits or monitoring. A global system of social accountability standards is evolving.

Medina, WA

Standards Article Horribly Lopsided

What They're Saying About Standards" (July 1999, p. 28) was a horribly lopsided article. Of the 14 quality leaders only two truly represented industry. The rest had something to gain by pushing the ISO certification process. If you really want to know what the quality community thinks of ISO standards and the certification process, you must provide a representative sample of that community. Otherwise, you are just another marketing tool for the money hungry consultants.

Standardization can be a good thing, if applied properly. Under the current methods, money and profit for the consultants and auditors appear to be the driving forces.

I urge you to examine this further.

Antioch, IL

Management by Numbers Useless and Damaging

In his July 1999 letter (QP Mailbag, p. 10) G. Sundararaman wrote, "For example, if management has set a monthly target of 0.2% rejection in assembly line 1. ... " In making this statement, the author implies that this is a routine managerial action and provides no criticism of it. W. Edwards Deming spent quite a bit of time discussing why such managerial action, management by the numbers, is not only useless, but also damaging.

In an example I personally witnessed, the big boss (many levels up) stated that he wanted percentage of waste to be under 5% for every division for a given date. When that date arrived, all divisions reported their percentage of waste to be under 5%. Now, in order to reach such figures, some had to redefine waste, others had to reject some suspicious data and others over sampled the good lines. However, everyone, especially the big boss, was happy and work went on as usual. Did the customer benefit from this in any way? No way!

Deming discussed this problem in several places in his book Out of the Crisis. Clearly, more people need to read and study this remarkable book.

Londonderry, NH

ISO 9000 Standards And My Barbecue Sauce

Reading the articles in the July 1999 edition of Quality Progress left me an enormous feeling of disappointment. I think the articles as written were excellent. However, the focus of the future of the standards was on the product. ISO alone will not improve the product. Element 4.4 (design) is the only element that directly approaches the product. In my training classes and consulting service I emphatically emphasize that ISO 9000 is a tool designed to review the quality system. With consistent quality reviews, the process for making the product will improve, therefore improving the product.

This stuff is not complicated. In fact, if you look at the list of chores you do at home, you will find that everything you do that has input and a desired output is a system, and the ISO standard can be applied to every system. Let's take a look at how I approach my secret secret barbecue sauce (see Table 1).

If it sounds as if I am bragging about my secret secret sauce, I am. However, in a much broader context, I want to show the important benefits I have received from ISO 9000 standards as a method to continuously review any system.

Quality Focus

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