Airline Security Should Have Zero Defects

I enjoyed reading the December 2001 article "Members Talk About Terrorist Attacks" (Susan E. Daniels, p. 57), and I think Quality Progress should take up the issue of zero defects in airline security, with zero defects meaning the prevention of terrorist access to airplanes.

The entire subject of passenger inspection would make for a fascinating exchange. Here the public expects an effective, thorough inspection, and, still, dangerous passengers with weapons get through. I'd like to hear ASQ members talk about improving the inspection and designing quality in so inspection doesn't take the entire burden. How many times have we heard, "You can't inspect in quality"? Quality professionals should be expected to share opinions on subjects of this importance.

I also enjoyed the exchange on the Ford/Firestone debacle (R.W. Hoyer, "Why Quality Gets an 'F'," October 2001, p. 32). I think you should publish as much opinion on this subject as possible. Encourage your readers to be controversial. Quality professionals can be trusted to go beyond griping and suggest some concrete improvement steps.

Certified quality manager
Einfield, CT

Editor's Note: ASQ was recently invited by the Federal Aviation Administration to submit a proposal for a possible certification for baggage handlers.

Interpretation at Odds With Quality Fundamental

Once again, the Society's most widely read publication includes an interpretation that's at odds with a quality fundamental--specifically, the unfortunate and unjustified leap from correlation to cause and effect. The clearest example appears in the introduction to Section 6 of the "2001 Salary Survey" (December 2001, p. 20), where it is unequivocally stated that ASQ certification leads to higher salary.

If there is any kind of analysis behind this conclusion--even the allowance for the influence of the variables isolated in other sections, such as education, years of experience or size of business--please publish it. That would make a stronger case for the assertion, though it would still leave room for other possible reasons, such as employee effort or an employer policy that allows the employer to pay an above average salary.

It's better to be cautious and err on the side of understatement than appear to turn a well-regarded survey into an attempt at self-promotion.

Please note, I value my ASQ certification. The confirmation of knowledge it represents is worthy, and it may be seen as a plus by employers. I might even intuitively say certification could lead to a higher salary. However, our profession is not about intuition, but about data and facts. It is hypocritical and reflects poorly on ASQ's independence and validity of articles in QP to stray from that purpose.

Shorewood, WI

Editor's Note: Thank you for your comments. We'll consider your suggestion to do more analysis and combine certification with other variables for next year.

It's GD&T, Not Design For Manufacturing

In the fifth paragraph under the heading "Maintenance" ("A Road Map to Six Sigma Quality," November 2001, p. 24), John M. Gross mentions design for manufacturing.

The standard for design for manufacturing is ASME Y14.5M-1994. This is also the standard for geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T). I think the author meant to say GD&T instead of design for manufacturing.

Affiliated Educational Consultants
Chicago, IL

Author's Response: Thank you for your comments. In the paragraph you referenced, my intent was to highlight the general need for the continuing education of Black Belts and Green Belts. Too often organizations lose sight of the need to continue to develop and maintain the proficiency of their trained staffs. This lack of foresight can also hamper retention efforts as people move to other organizations that offer more training and are perceived to offer more chances for career advancement.

The list of topics in the article represents a shopping list for consideration. The continuing education programs an organization selects should be based on the organization's strategic plans and a gap analysis of employees' knowledge levels.

Relative to the specific reference to design for manufacturing in that paragraph, I was referring to the more general process of developing new product designs that take manufacturing constraints and factors into consideration.

Certified quality engineer,
Six Sigma Black Belt
Washington, MO

"A Message for Everyone" Hits Home for Technician

I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading Teresa A. Whitacre's article "A Message for Everyone" in the November 2001 issue (p. 31). One of our quality technicians found it worthwhile reading, and I agree.

Nestlé USA
Cleveland, OH

Production Vs. Quality: Production Often Wins

I thoroughly enjoyed R.W. Hoyer's article "Why Quality Gets an 'F'" in the October 2001 issue (p. 32).Unfortunately, I've encountered the same basic tug of war between financial and quality paradigms in a variety of facilities during my more than 20 years in product safety.

One of my favorite true stories goes like this: A production manager at a large, well-known manufacturing facility stormed into the quality manager's office after a quality control inspector placed a large number of defective units on hold. The production manager glared at the quality manager and said, "Look, all of this talk about quality is fine until it affects my production. Now take these units off hold so I can ship them." In a production vs. quality standoff, production often wins.

However, ISO 9000 is not the "snake oil" of quality. It is just a tool that can be used, misused or unused.

Certified quality associate
Memphis, TN

Quality Leaders Expanding Influence Beyond Tradition

Debbie Phillips-Donaldson did a great job on the article "Champions of Quality: The New Breed" (November 2001, p. 35). I am pleased to see ASQ and our fellow quality leaders expanding their influence beyond the traditional areas of manufacturing and engineering. There are so many reasons why quality and improvement are useful for the whole organization and community.

Keep up the good work.

ASQ Quality Management Division, chair
Trident Technical College
Summerville, SC

ISO 9001 Is Not "Snake Oil" or a Scam

In the article "Why Quality Gets an 'F'," R.W. Hoyer refers to ISO 9001 and QS-9000 as "snake oil." He also quotes Bert Gunter, who said ISO 9001 is a scam. As a quality professional who has spent several years dealing with these standards, I am disturbed by his characterizations.

I agree the current state of the quality profession is deplorable, but for Hoyer to say it is the standards' fault is akin to saying accidental firearm deaths are the firearms' fault. His position is simply ludicrous.

The responsibility for quality failures lies where it always has--squarely in management's lap. ISO 9000 is meant to be a quality improvement tool, not a panacea that would forever remove management's responsibility to personally attend to quality issues.

Over the years, I realized many executives imagine ISO 9000 certification as something that can be implemented by subordinates without a manager's involvement. They also think it will be a one-time inoculation against quality problems and will not require further involvement beyond the initial mandate to implement the system. However, I can unequivocally say the root causes of at least 80% of the quality problems I have seen over the years are due to management's failure to use the quality system properly.

Two years ago, Philip Crosby predicted Ford would be plagued with quality problems after it dropped its slogan "Quality Is Job One!" (Kristen Johnson, "Philip B. Crosby's Mark on Quality," October 2001, p. 25). Ford's current problems are related to the failure of its management to advance the pursuit of quality over short-term profitability.

The state of quality in America will only improve when executive quality managers take personal responsibility for the success or failure of the quality program, before the fact. Hoyer's remarks do an injustice to the standards. If we must find fault, let's place the blame where it belongs. Let's not blame the hammer if we fail to drive the nail.

NDE Quality Systems
Houston, TX

Author's Response: I don't see how anyone who read my article could think I believe the deplorable state of the quality profession is the fault of ISO 9000. That gives ISO 9000 more credit than it deserves. I believe I said the problem is a function of the fact that back in the 1970s and 1980s some major American corporations flirted with the idea of instituting quality paradigms that would drive business decisions and then later abandoned those flirtations in favor of emphasis on shortsighted financial paradigms.

My complaint about ISO 9000 and QS-9000 is that they have become substitutes for real continuous quality improvement initiatives. A first-rate corporationwide quality assurance program would have a few of the functions of QS-9000, but to think an automobile or a tire manufacturer that is 100% QS-9000 compliant has an exceptional quality assurance program is nonsense.

Who should be blamed for quality failures: managers who don't understand the issues or quality professionals who claim to be selling a product that will cure the corporate quality problems with which the hapless managers must contend? In the area of continuous quality improvement, most managers haven't got a clue, and that makes them more susceptible to the elixirs pushed by ISO 9000 and QS-9000. Does that mean, as McReynolds claims, the responsibility for quality failures lies squarely in the lap of management? I think not.

McReynolds seems to believe Bert Gunter and I are holding ISO 9000 and QS-9000 responsible for the world's quality deficiencies, all the while absolving managers of responsibility. I think he missed my point that ISO 9000 and QS-9000 are surrounded on all sides by more important quality considerations. ISO 9000 may be necessary for the creation and maintenance of a first-rate quality assurance program, but it's not even close to being sufficient for such accomplishments.

Associate Professor of Management Science
Shenandoah University
Winchester, VA

What About the Lack Of Accountability?

So much of what I read in R.W. Hoyer's article "Why Quality Gets an 'F'" rings true. However, aside from a comment about the retreat of ethics, I don't recall Hoyer's mentioning the lack of accountability in today's business world.

I learned about quality while inspecting submarine and surface ship repairs. In the six years since my discharge, I have gone through a string of heartbreaking and bank breaking disappointments as I pursued my calling. Quality is clearly in retreat, and there is no apparent reversal without strong, committed leadership from the United States president on down. I think the current financial paradigm is ruining American business health, and as long as quality remains a political exercise, we can expect the decline to continue.

A notable lack of accountability for fraudulent and flawed decisions is reinforced by handsome compensation and exit packages that reward executive failure. ISO 9000 will stand accused as a sham until the International Organization for Standardization, known as ISO, can assure the certified companies are actually using the principles toward effective results. I applaud the organization's movement toward Baldrige principles, but suspicions will continue to overshadow successes until our organizations are compelled to show the results of those principles.

While regulation may not be the answer to protecting both consumers' and businesses' interests, the freestyle, open market approach will likewise disappoint. If the certification cycles ended by noting, in the style of Baldrige type awards, that the systems were performing as they were intended to, we might begin to promote the real meaning of progress.

I can already hear the chorus of reasons why this approach is impossible, and I appreciate the enormity and nature of the objections. We can use those objections to explore meaningful alternatives, or we can continue to wring our hands and point like weather vanes. Good luck. I will be here if anyone wants me to help.

Certified Quality Inspector and quality engineer, auditor and technician
Central Maine Solutions
Sumner, ME

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