Juran Questions "Pareto Head" Name

I would like to respond to the Quality Progress invitation to comment on the concept of "Mr. Pareto Head" (Miles Maguire, "'QP' Introduces Mr. Pareto Head," March 2000, p. 16). The idea of spicing QP up with a dash of humor has merit; however, I must point out that the term "Pareto Head" may be offensive to those who employ the Pareto Principle.

I plead guilty to having attached the name of Vilfredo Pareto to the universal principle of "vital few and trivial many" (J.M. Juran, "The Non-Pareto Principle; Mea Culpa," May 1975, p. 8). A myriad managers have adopted the Pareto Principle as an essential part of their tool kits. The Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers includes the Pareto Principle in its list of "Seven Quality Control Tools." The name "Pareto" is now in the management lexicon.

The term "Pareto Head" was presumably selected because of its similarity to "Potato Head." Unhappily, the latter has an uncomfortable resemblance to terms that refer to a member of a demented species--someone whose wits are addled such as a cabbage head, pumpkin head or fat head. Such terms have international counterparts, and in any language they elicit hilarity for everyone except the person on the receiving end.

I respectfully urge Mike Crossen to drop the name "Pareto Head" and invent some new character that avoids implied offence to a distinguished Italian engineer and economist whose name I once elected to apply to a useful concept in managing for quality.

Juran Institute
Wilton, CT

Artist's Response

The use of the name "Pareto" in connection with the word "head" was never meant to give offense to anyone. In fact, it was meant to be a way to win even greater attention to this extremely powerful approach to problem solving. I hoped I would have a better chance of doing so by using humor.

Several years ago, while I was an electronics technician working toward becoming a quality engineer, one of my associates introduced me to Pareto analysis. After a while I found that this tool was helping our company identify problems and achieve significant improvements in reducing defect rates, on the order of 20% to 50%. Over the years I have used and promoted this tool whenever the opportunity presented itself, and I was thinking of writing a paper to describe a particular application when the idea for "Mr. Pareto Head" came to me.

Comic characters quite often take on forms that are not normal. In the arena of children's toys, my Mr. Pareto Head has a far more famous cousin, Mr. Potato Head, who is a quirky character who brought joy to generations of children (and parents).

Mr. Potato Head is endearing, and his quirks are what attract people to him. I would like to think of Mr. Pareto Head in a similar way. He is a quirky quality engineer who just happens to have a bar diagram for hair and a triangle shaped face.

I contacted Dr. Juran to assure him that no insult was intended and to try to persuade him to see the character in a different light. Dr. Juran responded that he had "no quarrel with the strip per se." But I was unable to change his view that Mr. Pareto Head would be seen as an insult to users of the Pareto Principle. His view is that "the insult was (and remains) an unintended consequence" of an effort to bring some humor to the pages of Quality Progress.

Dr. Juran added, "Having in my lifetime encountered no limit to human ingenuity, I trust you will find a way to relabel that character without doing damage to the enthusiastic feedback reported by Quality Progress."

While I am not sure that my ingenuity is up to Dr. Juran's standards, I have decided to take up his challenge and see if I can find a way to make suitable revisions to the strip. Look for such changes to appear in future issues of Quality Progress.

Certified quality manager, CQA, CQE
Concord, OH

Editor's Response

A wise man once said, "Humor is a funny thing." That's because what's funny to one person may be distinctly unfunny to another. That seems to be the case here.

The "Mr. Pareto Head" strip has clearly touched a nerve with many of our readers (well, actually their funny bone) as we have received more and stronger positive feedback for it than for any other material QP has published during my time as editor. That's not to say that others, in addition to Dr. Juran, have not criticized it.

As editor I am between the proverbial rock and a hard place, comforted only by knowing that whatever I do will bring opprobrium from some corner. Under the circumstances, I appreciate Mike Crossen's willingness to consider ways of modifying his cartoon strip, and I also appreciate Dr. Juran's faith in the ability of QP and its contributors to reach new heights of ingenuity.

Editor, Quality Progress

Critical Factor to Corporate Web Site Quality Missing

After reading Miles Maguire's "Up Front" column in the July 2000 issue of Quality Progress (p. 6), I quickly turned to the article "Benchmarking the Home Pages of Fortune 500 Companies" (Nabil Tamimi, Murli Rajan and Rose Sebastianelli, July 2000, p. 47). I was disappointed.

The article identified 13 factors that the authors believe are critical to the quality of corporate Web sites. The one factor that is missing should be the first one on the list: effectiveness as a means of communicating with customers and stakeholders. I use the Internet extensively as a means of getting product and company information. It's far faster than requesting product literature, is available 24 hours a day and offers a means of contacting the company for more specific data.

It's the effectiveness of the Internet that's important. I am routinely surprised by the lack of response I get when I use the feedback mechanism on certain sites. For example, I used the "Contact Us" box on the Web site of a major supplier of temperature measurement devices to ask if it sells a mole device to track temperature history during an autoclave run. I received no answer.

I believe the authors missed a major opportunity to assess the effectiveness, not just the technology, of Web pages published by major companies. This is the most important quality factor in a company's Web site.

Mendham, NJ 

Author's Response

In our article we identified certain quality factors critical to corporate home pages. Many of these factors deal with providing end users with a quality interface that enables them to efficiently retrieve information.

Our study, however, did not deal with end users' experiences with such sites. Prompt responses to customer inquiries are indeed critical and can ultimately lead to the failure or survival of retail Web sites. In fact, recent research by Bizrate.com, which collects customer feedback on thousands of retail Web sites, suggests that retailers need to improve communication with customers in terms of product availability, order status and order tracking.

Scranton, PA 

Article Describes Technique For Developing Useful Ideas

I want to call Quality Progress' readers' attention to an article I wrote for the Journal of Management in Engineering titled "Beyond 'Six Sigma'" (Vol. 16, Issue 4, p. 28).

The article describes a three-step procedure for achieving rapid, significant gains in productivity. This methodology is unique because it taps the insights of outside experts in totally different fields, creatively briefs them in advance and then brings them together to participate in an "expert innovation session." The resulting concepts, setups and processes proposed by the experts are then selected, modified and adapted to the task at hand by those inside the organization who are most familiar with the parameters of the present process used and responsible for achieving the desired end result.

British Airways increased productivity by 67% by using this method. Frito-Lay adopted new technology from outside the food industry that not only increased productivity, but also provided the basis for an entirely new product line.

The procedure described in my article may be the consummate technique for developing useful ideas outside of the box. It could just be the next, next thing!

Lake Wylie, SC 

There Are No Panaceas In Management

Gregory H. Watson's column ("Toward a Central Tendency on Six Sigma," July 2000, p. 16) piqued my interest and reminded me of a discussion I had with a student regarding Six Sigma. The student works at GE and is heavily engrossed in its Six Sigma efforts. He spoke so glowingly of Six Sigma that I wondered why the other students were not racing back to their companies demanding that Six Sigma be installed.

The first point that came to mind while reading the column was the thought that I observe so many nonquality and nonstatistician professionals picking up the Six Sigma charge because they think they have found the panacea for business problems. I have seen this many times, including when there was a rush toward reengineering and total quality management (TQM), for example. My point is that each of the programs is legitimate in its own way. One of the dangers of rushing headlong into Six Sigma is that, just as was done in the case of TQM, people may not pay enough attention to the cultural aspects of making the change.

Another aspect of Six Sigma implementation worth heeding is the cost benefit analysis. If manufacturing is given orders to achieve Six Sigma without consideration of the costs, something will eventually give. The executives behind the implementation must accept that some areas will simply not achieve Six Sigma.

There are no panaceas in management. Value creation can be achieved through disciplined practice rooted in sound theory with continual attention paid to the cultural aspects of implementation.

Boulder, CO 

American Offices Have Little Natural Lighting

I was excited to see the article "Quality Lighting Means Quality Work" (John P. Bachner, July 2000, p. 67). As an engineer at a multinational corporation, I have been on assignment in Germany for almost three years. Among the many pleasures of living and working here is that the workplaces are always well-lit by natural means. The difference becomes apparent after I return to the United States. Many of the offices, stores and restaurants in America have little or no natural lighting.

I decided to research the matter and discovered that there is a German requirement issued by the state that requires offices, factories and break areas to have windows at a minimum of 10% of the floor space. Also, cubicle partitions must not limit the daylight from any other part of the room.

Waterloo, IA 

Lack of Enthusiasm In Quality Field

I have been in the quality industry for several years and have recently noticed a cloud hovering over many businesses. The cloud of quality includes Quality System Requirements, known as QS, and the International Organization for Standardization, known as ISO.

In the beginning, companies were enthusiastic because they saw QS and ISO as having many benefits, which they do if they are fully supported and implemented. However, how many people enjoy doing what they are told they have to do? Furthermore, how many people give 100% when they're told they have to do something? The same thing has happened in regard to the mandate to implement a QS or ISO system in certain companies.

A majority of companies don't like quality systems. The systems are just seen as "another thing to do." I am still new to the quality field and admit I have a lot to learn. Still, I don't need years of experience to see the war in quality and to realize whose side I'm on. It is frustrating to be seen as a necessary evil rather than a welcome addition in companies.

Many companies think the QS and ISO systems are a joke. How can a company completely fail an internal audit, yet pass its certification requirements a few months later? Give me a break. This situation gives companies the false impression that the auditor is only there for a paycheck.

I have been losing my interest in helping companies define and improve their processes because I know they'll forget about everything six months later.

Clinton Township, MI

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