Small Business Quality Model Proves Helpful

Grace Duffy’s “Quality From Scratch: A Model for Small Business” (July 2004, p. 27) is one of the most informative articles on quality I have read in a long time. I work for a large company with a small business atmosphere and was just promoted to quality supervisor, so I will be able to implement a lot of these ideas.

Transwall, a unit of Kimball International
Clifton Heights, PA

Inspection Article Paints A Perfect Picture

I just passed Darin J. Craig’s article “Stop Depending on Inspection” (July 2004, p. 39) to my company’s management staff. It describes our current situation and illustrates where we truly need to go.

We are in the course of implementing lean manufacturing techniques and have yet to find a solution on how to maintain the quality control department. I’ve tried to describe it, but this article paints a Rembrandt. It should help us map the strategy to transition to a prevention based quality system.

Wenthe-Davidson Engineering
New Berlin, WI

Lighter Approach To Basics Appreciated

I wanted to let you know of my favorable reaction to “Back to Basics: The Birth of Document Control” by Richard Grime (July 2004, p. 104) . For years, I have believed a lighter treatment of the basics could serve the Society much better than technical, complex, scholarly subject material in selling the need for everyone involved in any process to do a better job. This article is simple and entertaining, yet it has a good message.

Thank you for the lighter and more appealing approach. I hope other readers agree, and down the road QP will show quality, too, can have a sense of humor. We need a few laughs these days.

Carmel, CA

History Behind ASQ Certification Process

Debbie Phillips-Donaldson’s excellent editorials, including her June 2004 editorial “O Canada (and China and …)” (p. 6), are the first thing I read each month.

The relatively slow introduction of ASQ certification examinations into foreign countries given in the native languages was strategically planned and was driven by serious legal, ethical and liability demands.

The initial (and only) certification program was for the quality engineer to promote recognition and acceptance of certified quality engineers (CQE) by most state, federal and international legal bodies. These groups, including many universities, did not recognize a CQE unless he or she was a graduate engineer in one of the usual accredited disciplines who specialized in quality engineering. At that time there were no quality engineering curricula in the United States. In fact, all but one of the legal court challenges, ASQ ethics violations and investigations by the Society Ethics Committee from 1945 until at least 1990 dealt with certification issues. Thus, many examinations were conducted in foreign countries, but they were always in English.

The first move toward the direction referenced in Phillips-Donaldson’s editorial was in response to the French Canadian’s insistence we conduct certification exams in French Canadian. I arranged for three independent (and very secret) translations of an exam previously published in QP as a training guide. None of them agreed.

We then proceeded at the direction of the certification committee and the Professional Development Council to get advice from the executive office of the European Organization for Quality as to how they handled their multilingual members and official publications, minutes and standards. We were strongly advised to conduct our examinations in our mother tongue only. Why? Given the legal issues of that time, and even with good psychometric practices, we would always be faced with an examinee who blamed our faulty translation for his failure.

This history should help explain some of the deliberate, careful and professional care taken with the ASQ certification process that helped make it the renowned program it is today and built the solid foundation for its expansion into foreign countries and languages.

ASQ director, professional development, 1970-1982
Libertyville, IL

Two Statements Cause Concern

I was concerned with two statements made by J.P. Russell in “Standards Outlook: 12 Ways To Add Value to Audits” (June 2004, p. 78):

  1. In the first paragraph of “Audit Action Item 2,” he says, “During a business crisis it may become necessary to temporarily waive quality criteria. …”
  2. In the third paragraph of that same section, he says, “Manage-ment must be prepared to make short-term compromises for the long-term good of the organization.”

But there is no mention of the assurance that the temporary waiving of quality criteria is acceptable to the customer. And if it is acceptable, why would the waiver be only temporary?

I assume I have not fully understood the written word and would appreciate the author’s clarification.

Ontario, Canada

Author’s Response: Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns. I am sure others will have similar thoughts.

Because I did not define the quality criteria, they were left to your imagination. The complete sentence from the article reads, “During a business crisis it may become necessary to temporarily waive quality criteria, but management should carefully weigh the consequences and be sure employees don’t misinterpret decisions to bypass controls.” Management would not want to make decisions that could result in customer complaints or customer dissatisfaction. The customer interface process was beyond the scope of this article.

As for your second concern, I think you should read the sentence prior to the one cited. Both sentences together read, “As a follow-up, management must change the process to avoid or be better prepared for future crisis situations. Management must be prepared to make short-term compromises for the long-term good of the organization.”

In other words, management must take action to prevent the crisis or develop a process to better deal with it. This is the preventive style of management. Instead of waiting for the next crisis, management should redirect organizational resources to address the issue now, for the long-term benefit.

For this article, I assumed management’s objective was to achieve and sustain continual improvement (p. 78). The article was about how auditing can support management and add value.

Quality WBT Center for Education
Gulf Breeze, FL

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