Which Organizations Make Quality a Way of Life?

Nearly a decade ago, the literature on quality and performance improvement frequently made reference to the need for quality initiatives to be a way of life.

For an organization to sustain long-term success, it was necessary not to think in terms of a program or programs. It was especially important to avoid both the perception and the reality of initiating the quality program of the month. There was ample evidence this was a prescription for failure.

The concept of a program tends to convey to top leadership that the quality program can be delegated. To employees it conveys that, as a program, it has a beginning and then it too will end and in time pass away like many programs before it. Of course, as Einstein said, we will then keep getting what we have always got. In this case it's decreasing quality and performance.

Success will come when leadership accepts, understands and commits to quality and performance improvement as a way of life that is cohesive, comprehensive and systematically integrated into the fabric of the organization, including its leadership. Reliance on programs, no matter how well-intended or how well-constructed, will only lead to limited success for a limited time.

I would like to suggest we modify one of J.M. Juran's thoughtful recommendations (Debbie Phillips-Donaldson,
"On Leadership," August 2002, p. 24). Rather than having the field teams visit companies that launched quality programs in the past two decades, I suggest we focus that resource on identifying those organizations that have successfully made quality and performance improvement a way of life and ask, "How did you do that? Why did you do that? What were the benefits from doing that?"

Visiting professor
Chulalongkorn University International Business Program
Bangkok, Thailand


Leadership Is Definitely People Driven

I don't believe I have ever seen a more succinct statement of the truth of leadership than that presented by Paul O'Neill's three points in "On Leadership." These points all relate to people and how to cause people to work well.

Some people perceive leadership as program driven. That is absolutely wrong. Leadership is people driven, and people conduct the programs. Nothing gets done except through people.

I am glad such a person is representing our government today.

Independent quality consultant
Chirp Associates


Business Professionals Should Know Quality

I want to commend you on publishing the article about J.M. Juran in the August 2002 issue. Although I have worked in quality focused organizations for the last seven years, I do not and probably never will call myself a quality professional.

I am an ISO 9000 auditor, have run corporate ISO 9000 programs and have run large quality process improvement projects at Unisys, Sequent and IBM, but I was and am first a business management professional.

I learned about process management and quality systems to see how they could help us improve our businesses. And I still insist it is more beneficial and easier to teach a business person something about quality process management than it is to teach a quality professional anything about business management.

Juran said quality professionals need to speak the language of money, but I disagree slightly. That is harder to do effectively than Juran implies. The more successful route is to convince management to train a business professional--one who knows how to do and present return on investment--to work with the quality professionals and establish a position defined to perform that function for business improvement initiatives.

I am speaking from experience because that is exactly what I have done. I spent almost 18 months on a project almost exclusively building business cases and presenting them to all levels of IBM server group management. The purpose was to get the money for the IT projects the quality engineers and analysts needed to improve product quality management. We were able to get changes made for issues that had been around for years.

Sounds good so far, but there is a dark side. Just as the project was getting implemented, I and others involved were laid off amidst the economic downturn.

Even so, the quality engineering people who still work at IBM say what we started is moving ahead, and it never would have happened without the business side of the equation being there. It feels good to make a difference.

Northwest Analytical
Portland, OR


Familiar Examples Bring Point Home

I enjoyed reading Dan Reid's "Standards Outlook" column in the August 2002 issue ("Purchaser and Supplier Quality," p. 81).

The article contained a strategic viewpoint on the use and misuse of standards in today's quality world. The section on process auditing was especially insightful because of its natural place in the evolution of auditing.

Reid's inclusion of such diverse topics as Six Sigma, HR management and the events of Sept. 11, 2001, provided me with examples that were familiar from a tactical perspective.

UAW-GM Center for Human Resources


Current 'QP' Layout Is Difficult To Work With

As a member of ASQ since 1979, I value QP's articles. However, I seldom keep a whole issue intact. I like to pull articles out of each issue and file them under subjects of interest for future reference.

The current layout has different articles on either side of the same page, and this forces me to have to scan pages and then print them. It would be better if each article were positioned so it could be removed without affecting other articles. Can you reconsider the layout?

Palatine, IL


Editor's Response: Thank you for your letter. We have received a few similar complaints before and try to accommodate by backing articles with advertisements when possible. However, with the advertising market slumping for the past year and a half (and not just for Quality Progress, but for all media), there are fewer ads to work with, and backing some articles with other articles is simply unavoidable.

Rather than scanning in the print edition of the magazine, you might want to consider instead accessing the articles on ASQ's member site, www.asqnet.org. You'll find full-text versions of each article each month (click on "news," then "Quality Progress").

Thank you again for your input. We can certainly use it as we strive for continual improvement.  


Who Owns Rights To the KJ Method?

I believe I found a mistake in the July issue of QP (Edna M. White, Ravi S. Behara and Sunil Babbar, "Mine Customer Experiences," p. 63).

Reference four says, "'KJ' is a registered trademark of the Kawayoshida Research Center." In actuality, the KJ method is a registered trademark of the Kawakita Jiro Institute.

Manager, corporate planning office
Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers
Sendagaya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Author's Response: As far as I can tell, the KJ method was developed by Kawakita Jiro, a Japanese anthropologist. However, according to The Management and Control of Quality (James R. Evans and William M. Lindsay, South-Western, 2002, p. 217), the KJ method is a registered trademark of the Kawayoshida Research Center.

Florida Atlantic University



In the August 2002 "Annual Quality Awards Listing" (p. 48), the last sentence in the description for the Distinguished Service Medal should read, "The Distinguished Service Medal represents the highest distinction that can be accorded by the American Society for Quality for service."

In the October 2002 issue ("House-hold Appliances Top Latest Satisfaction Survey," p. 22), we said Maytag's American Customer Satisfaction Index score declined 3.5% from its 2001 score. Actually, Maytag's score stayed the same, and Kenmore's declined 3.5%. Both had scores of 83.

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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