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Practitioner Should Be Recognized

To Courtland T. Kelly, the former General Motors (GM) employee who was demoted and saw his department disbanded because he mentioned he might report an alleged safety defect ("Keeping Current," "Whistleblower Sues," March 2003, p. 23), I say, "Bravo!" You did what any true practicing quality professional should do; you made yourself an extension of the customer. There was a potential problem, and it was identified due to your work.

The problem could have been responsible for putting GM vehicle owners in life threatening or fatal situations. As a consumer and fellow quality professional, I applaud and appreciate your efforts. The bottom line would have been sacrificed if these defects were not identified. How many consumers would purchase the product if other users were injured or killed?

I am sorry your employment situation was affected. I, too, have experienced similar situations for trying to do what was right and live the doctrines we quality professionals preach. Your next venture will afford much better rewards. Keep up the good work!

TERESA A. WHITACRE, CQA, CQE, CQM
Marketech Systems
Latrobe, PA

tawcqt@aol.com

Certification Need Not Be Lengthy, Expensive

The article "13 Steps to Certification in Less Than a Year" (Tammy Landon, March 2003, p. 32) covered a timely topic. In many respects my organization and the implementation processes we used to achieve ISO 9001:2000 registration are very similar to those used by Ultratech Stepper. It was refreshing to read about a company that went through an experience similar to ours.

We were able to certify to ISO 9001:2000 in five months at a cost of $70,000 (Canadian dollars), and we find it increasingly frustrating to read about the amount of time and money necessary for achieving the ISO 9001:2000 standard upgrade. For example, my predecessor was quoted requirements of 7,600 man-hours with a total investment of $342,000 (Canadian dollars).

We approached the exercise with a limited understanding and a desire to apply the standard in a simple, user friendly, practical and cost effective manner. We studied the standard, reviewed the work processes current at the time and accepted that change or improvement to the system would be ongoing.

We just completed our second audit to ISO 9001:2000, and the registration auditor heaped praise on the intuitive understanding and commitment demonstrated by the employees, suggesting the program had embedded itself effectively in the organization.

Our message is simple: Registration and certification to ISO 9001:2000 need not be a lengthy and expensive endeavor. We recommend using the opportunity to simplify a quality management system and improve buy-in from employees and senior management.

PATRICIA TAKACS
Enerflex Systems
Calgary, Alberta

pat.takacs@enerflex.com  

Most Important Change To ISO 9001 Overlooked

I was disappointed after reading "A Quality Manual for the Transition and Beyond" by Mark Kaganov (March 2003, p. 27) because the major change practitioners need to make to their quality manuals under the new ISO 9001:2000 standard was not addressed. Instead, the article gives the impression that all you need to do is mention the new requirements in the quality manual and identify the new procedures.

The major change (4.2.2c) is that companies now have to identify and show the interaction among their processes. This helps make the quality manual a useful piece of documentation. Now companies have to better understand what they do, not necessarily what the standard says.

Unlike the 1994 version, the new version does not require companies to mention all the "shalls" in the quality manual. All the quality manuals I reviewed as a lead auditor under the 1994 version of the standard were almost an exact copy of the standard. The only people who cared enough to read such manuals were us, the third-party auditors. The manual was not of much value to the company, except to be used as a means to find the referenced procedures. It was full of nonvalue added documents.

Even so, I believe there are registrars who want all the shalls mentioned in an ISO 9001:2000 quality manual just to make sure someone in the company is aware of the requirements. These registrars should find another way to ensure the company is ready, perhaps through phone interviews, written questionnaires or visits.

JOSE R. LUJAN
Quality Assurance Services
McAllen, TX
qasjrl@aol.com

Story About Juran Proves Enlightening

I would like to start by saying Quality Progress is much improved in my estimation. I find more useful articles each month, and I now read more than 50% of the magazine. Thanks for the improvement.

I also really enjoyed reading the excerpt about inspection fallibility by J.M. Juran in the March 2003 issue (p. 54). It is enlightening to learn the problems we deal with day to day are not new and that Juran dealt with inspection problems back in the early 20th century.

We're even experiencing this problem at my company because people still believe inspection is infallible and can solve quality problems.

Thanks for sharing the memoirs of Juran. I hope you will continue to publish findings from the other quality pioneers, such as Walter A. Shewhart, W. Edwards Deming and Kaoru Ishikawa.

COLIN HURL
AGCO-Hesston Operations
Hesston, KS
colin.hurl@agcocorp.com

ASQ Has Its Finger On Healthcare's Pulse

Mike Stoecklein's article "ASQ's Role in Healthcare" ("Emerging Sectors," March 2003, p. 90) confirmed that members of the healthcare industry should work together as a whole to address better healthcare services for their patients. The grand idea of better healthcare is nothing new, but there must be a consistent approach to managing and achieving this goal. I am now thoroughly convinced ASQ has its finger on the pulse of what the healthcare industry should consider to better serve the patient community.

Rather than looking at healthcare as being divided into specialties, the industry should come together as a whole and embrace the quality management principles that will allow it to strive toward what's most important--the patient.

MARK T. ADAMS
Horizon-Mercy
West Trenton, NJ
madams@horizon-mercy.com

Quality Situations Expertly Addressed

I just finished reading "Roadblocks To Quality" (Roderick A. Munro, February 2003, p. 49) and was impressed to see my 15 years of quality experiences summed up in one article. The more I read, the more I smiled, grimaced and chuckled as Munro expertly described situations I have been a part of. As he discussed everything from zero defect programs to QS-9000 directives to auditing to the Automotive Industry Action Group's five pillars, Munro's comments were right on the mark. He did an excellent job, and maybe someday we'll learn from our history so we won't be doomed to repeat our mistakes.

ERIK KEIM, CQA
International Truck and Engine
Fort Wayne, IN
erik.keim@nav-international.com

Big Three Should Improve Their Company Cultures

Rod Munro's article was refreshing and insightful, though he will undoubtedly be lambasted, mostly by the Big Three, for daring to say the things that need to be said.

The American automotive industry has suffered from a dual personality that has perpetuated the "do as I say, not as I do" philosophy. As a quality professional who has worked in a variety of industries over the years, I have always been amazed to discover the very best and very worst of quality practices are alive and well in the automotive sector.

Munro wonders who can possibly pass ISO/TS 16949 now that the standard has new requirements and a new scope, and that's a good question. Toyota and Honda have never required anything more than ISO 9000 certification, and they enjoy the top spot in J.D. Power and Associates' quality surveys year after year. In my opinion, three things create this sort of attention to detail and commitment to quality: culture, culture and culture. The Big Three need to develop a little of their own and lead by example.

THOMAS HUMPHREYS
QMR Plastics
River Falls, WI
thumphreys@qmrplastics.com

Automotive Article Rife With Assumptions

A short retort to Rod Munro's article is in order. TS2 or ISO/
TS 16949:2000 is not impossible to achieve. Some auditees have
already received certification. The information Munro has received is most likely hearsay and innuendo from people not closely related to
the workings of the International Automotive Task Force. His article is rife with incorrect assumptions that are not supported by correlated data and facts. It is sad that Quality Progress would publish such drivel without data and facts to support the premise.

RAYMOND J. NESS
Grand Rapids, MI
rness9@attbi.com

Everybody Wants To Have Six Sigma Charisma

I would like to introduce a new Six Sigma buzz phrase: Six Sigma charisma. It can be used to characterize people, processes and services that have extraordinary appeal and charm as a direct result of Six Sigma.

If, for example, a process improved to a world-class level through the application of Six Sigma, the process has Six Sigma charisma. Likewise, a person directly responsible for the deployment of a successful Six Sigma initiative would have Six Sigma charisma.

The someone or something that received this title would view it as an honor.

BRIAN LANNING, CQE, SIX SIGMA BLACK BELT
South Shore, KY
lanningbm@ports.usec.com

Correction
The quote on p. 16 of the April issue ("ASQ News: Texan Wins AQC Trip in Membership Contest") was from Peter Teti, not Harry Kirkpatrick. We regret the error.

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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