Humor Breaks Down Barriers, Opens Doors
When I receive my copy of Quality Progress, I usually skim the cover to see which articles are highlighted, and then I read "QP Mailbag." The cover of the July 2002 issue has a title that contains the words "tool belt." Then, in a response to a chastising letter in "QP Mailbag," Debbie Phillips-Donaldson mentions her attempt at humor was lost. At first glance, one may deem these two separate issues, but I don't think they are so different.

I shudder at buzzwords and buzz-phrases, and when I hear and read about tool belts and toolboxes I shut out anything having to do with them. I personally place a lot of value on humor. Humor breaks down barriers and opens doors where otherwise there may not be even a glimmer of acceptance. Even though I have yet to use this phrase, the source of my skills comes from my "toy chest." Only I can open my toy chest, and when I do, everything works well and, more importantly, everyone has fun.

I have yet to see or experience anything fun concerning tool belts or boxes--maybe that's a reason humor is lacking for some. Give me toys any day, and we'll play.

SPH (smiling practitioner of humor)
Pierce Manufacturing
Appleton, WI


Tool Belt Article Answers Important Questions
The article "Organize Your Quality Tool Belt" by Duke Okes (July 2002, p. 25) gave very good answers to some of the questions I have always had. Thanks for publishing this excellent article.

Certified quality engineer
Quality manager
Guelph, Ontario


DOE Should Ideally Precede SPC
In "Organize Your Quality Tool Belt," in a paragraph beginning with "SPC vs. DOE," the author says "SPC (statistical process control) would typically be used earlier than DOE (design of experiments) because a process should ideally be in a relatively stable condition before you attempt to study it in more detail." While this statement has some merit in the broader sense that test results become meaningless unless the process under study is in stable condition, it sends an incorrect signal to quality practitioners.

It so happens that DOE should ideally precede SPC even in production process studies because its output serves as valuable information for SPC decisions made by quality control personnel. As it is, the major benefits from DOE can be seen in concept design (structural and vibration analyses such as finite element models), design development and process development, all of which are stages that come before the thought of SPC is even entertained.

Bloomfield Hills, MI


Reader Corrects Errors In Quality Glossary
I noticed errors in the definitions for Cp and Cpk in your "Quality Glossary" (July 2002, p. 43).

Cp is the ratio of tolerance to six sigma, or the USL (upper specification limit) minus the LSL (lower spec limit) divided by six sigma. It is sometimes referred to as the engineering tolerance divided by the natural tolerance and is only a measure of dispersion.

Cpk equals the lesser of the USL minus the mean divided by three sigma (or the mean) minus the LSL divided by three sigma. The greater the Cpk value, the better.

I also noticed the omission of Ppk, which is a potential process capability measure used in the validation stage of a new product launch. It uses the same formula as Cpk, but a higher value is expected due to the smaller time span of the sample.

I hope this can be used as part of your continual improvement of the glossary.

Cardin Quality Training Associates
Dallas, NC

Editor's Response: We regret the errors and have corrected the Web versions of the glossary. Thank you to everyone who submitted feedback and suggestions. We will evaluate and consider all the ideas when we next update the glossary.

Q&A Article Provides Guidance to Practitioners
The article "ISO 9001:2000's Process Approach" by John E. "Jack" West ("Standards Outlook," July 2002, p. 103) caught my immediate attention, and I read it with great pleasure. I like the fact it was written in Q&A format, and I'm sure it will provide guidance to a lot of quality practitioners.

West, as always, has done an immense favor to quality practitioners by providing us with this clear understanding. I hope he will continue writing these types of articles to clarify concepts of the ISO 9001 standard.

Nortel Networks
Research Triangle Park, NC

Can Customer Satisfaction Improve Customer Loyalty?
I have two comments on Jack West's article "ISO 9000:2000's Process Approach":

1. I strongly agree with the author's suggestion to use flowcharts and process maps as an integral part of quality system documentation. This is a great way to make the quality system documentation more user friendly, process oriented and visual.

2. There is a hidden assumption in the article that has been refuted by scientific research. The assumption is that increasing customer satisfaction will also increase customer loyalty. Yes, customer dissatisfaction can cause customers to leave, but improving customer satisfaction scores has not been shown to improve customer loyalty. One study concluded that 25 to 75% of satisfied to very satisfied customers defect to the competition on the next purchase (in HMO renewals and new automobile purchases).

There are proven ways to increase customer loyalty, but increasing customer satisfaction may not be one of them.

Director, operations
and business improvement
Menasha Corp.
Neenah, WI


Author's Response: Yes, organizations should not assume increased customer satisfaction will result in increased loyalty. The point of my example was simply that policy statements are empty unless implemented with actions to meet measurable targets.

The Woodlands, TX


Four Troubling Implications In July Feature
I found myself troubled by four implications after reading "Is Time Running Out for Quality?" by Jay Wilbur (July 2002, p. 75).

First, he uses total quality management (TQM) and cost of quality (COQ) interchangeably. COQ is a subset of the TQM process, and his examples of places where TQM doesn't work don't consider TQM's entire definition. Wilbur focuses only on the cost component. TQM is all about value for the customer and stakeholders of the company--it is not strictly based on COQ.

Second, his statement that benchmarking is not applicable to a new business incorrectly limits the scope of benchmarking. If you correctly benchmark, you spend a lot of time looking at businesses that are best in class for particular types of processes. Any start-up has many core processes similar to those of other businesses. Accounting, sales and customer support, for example, are core to almost every business.

Third, the emphasis of the article is on speed to quality, and I am concerned some readers may read this article too quickly and conclude it is OK to shortcut quality to be first to market. Anyone in the quality profession knows of cases where the strategy to get a new product out the door as fast as possible produced undesirable results. Everyone knows the first to market, start-up, dotcom types of businesses have had a rocky road and a high failure rate.

Finally, I read about the three generations of quality a few years ago. The first generation is to inspect out the defects; the second generation is to engineer them out (catch them before they occur); and the third generation is to become variance free (apply the principles of Six Sigma). A new business must build in quality from the start in processes, products, customer service and the company culture.

Continuous improvement is the basis of any TQM or Six Sigma approach, so the quality effort needs to always be alive and active. A new business should use quality tools and continuous improvement to improve the process of timely implementation of quality into a business. Contrary to Wilbur's belief that the quality body of knowledge (BOK) does not cover time to quality, I believe it does and gives us the tools to do the right things and get them done right the first time.

Certified quality manager and quality auditor
Director of IT business systems
Productivity Point International

Author's Response: Let me respond to each of your four points separately:

1. I did not intend to imply TQM and total COQ are equivalent. Total cost of quality is only one component of TQM, but it is an essential component. The other components can certainly be applied effectively to various situations, but a full application of TQM involves the use of total COQ.

My article addresses the need to supplement TQM and total COQ methods with other methods that target specific time critical situations. It is not an attack on total COQ or any other component of TQM. Saying total COQ is not applicable in some situations does not imply it is flawed or not applicable in any situation. It does say we sometimes need something else besides total COQ.

2. Benchmarking has many applications and is a valuable technique. My article does not say new businesses cannot apply benchmarking. It uses benchmarking as an example of a standard quality technique that does not apply in the situations discussed.

3. My article does not emphasize speed to quality. Rather, it points out the inapplicability of many standard quality methods to situations where speed is mandatory. It calls for the development of new quality methods to fill this gap and suggests some possible avenues for finding these new methods.

One point the article does make is that we quality professionals too often throw up our hands in situations that require speed and say you can't have both. Instead of denying the need for speed in some situations, we should be looking for quality methods that improve quality while shortening time to market.

Perhaps the "rocky road and high failure rate" you refer to in conjunction with the dotcoms would have been avoided if such methods had been available. It seems pointless to blame a dotcom's failure on something inherent in its very existence, the need to get innovation to market quickly. In the article I suggest the root cause of a lack of quality in these situations is not the need for speed; it's the lack of quality methods applicable for such situations.

4. You could more effectively assert that the quality BOK addresses time to quality if you could provide a reference to a time to quality metric or method in the quality literature. It is easy to say quality should be built in from the start, and you suggest continuous improvement as the way to do this. Certainly that will work if there is time available to put down one layer of bricks after another until the quality is built. I would like us to find ways to insert a prefab quality edifice for those situations where there isn't time to build layer by layer.

Certified quality manager
and software engineer
Director of systems engineering
and validation
Texas Department of Human Services
Cedar Park, TX


Contact 'QP'
We welcome your letters. Send them to EDITOR, ASQ/QUALITY PROGRESS, 600 N. PLANKINTON AVE., MILWAUKEE, WI 53203-3005; or e-mail them to editor@asq.org. Please include address, daytime phone number and e-mail address. All letters will be published on the QP Discussion Board, or you can post your comment on the QP Discussion Board directly at www.asqnet.org. We reserve the right to edit letters for space and clarity.

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