Critical Questions

When we started planning for this issue more than a year ago, our purpose was fairly straightforward. We wanted to focus attention on the ways in which quality is being used around the world.

But our plans were overtaken by events, specifically the events following the August recall of 6.5 million Bridgestone/Firestone tires. For one of the few times in recent memory, this recall put the quality profession on the front page and focused national attention on concepts such as root cause analysis and quality system standards.

Obviously, not much of this attention was welcome. And it created a bit of a quandary for us here at Quality Progress. On the one hand, the massive tire recall and the attendant publicity constituted a story too big for us to ignore. On the other hand, the situation was and is still fluid--with many critical details yet to be made public.

It is far too early to know where the responsibility should properly be laid for the tire failures and highway accidents that have led to more than 100 deaths. In fact, most of the questions that have been raised about rollover problems involving Ford sport utility vehicles--by journalists, lawyers, congressional investigators, corporate executives and others--are still waiting for answers.

But that doesn't mean that it is too early for the quality profession to be thinking seriously about how this high profile case of product failures will affect its future. Starting on page 30, you will find a series of short articles from a variety of perspectives on this topic. They were put together by Associate Editor Susan E. Daniels, who has also contributed an introduction that recaps some of the most important developments in this story.

As important as this subject is, we didn't want to let it completely overwhelm our original topic for this issue, global perspectives on quality. For many years ASQ has had an International Chapter (see page 63) and has maintained ties with quality professionals around the world. But the Society has recently decided to expand its global efforts with several exciting initiatives (see p. 57.)

As ASQ reaches out to lend its expertise abroad, however, it's important to remember that there are many lessons to be learned from the experiences of quality professionals in countries around the world. Turn to p. 49, to see one recent example from Hong Kong. 

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  Miles Maguire

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