Quality Digest  |  06/24/2008


Rooting for Analysis

Would somebody please ask Mike Micklewright to stop making sense (“Why Root Cause Analysis Sucks in the United States,” http://qualitydigest.com/IQedit/
)? He’s at risk of exposing a vast cottage industry of what Deming called “hacks,” and that could have incredible repercussions thereunto.

Just kidding about the hacks, of course. The real hacks, as Micklewright points out, are leaders who prefer tried-and-false methods of problem-solving. I liken it to how Congress blathers on about an issue and then passes legislation that has zero effect whatsoever, such as the “Airline Passenger Harassment Act of 2001.”

-- Jonathon Andell


I might not have chosen that title, but the article itself sums up the misconception or the inadequacy of how companies practice root cause analysis.

I have wondered for many years why our very own government cannot locate the root of a problem, break it down, and resolve it to prevent it from occurring again. If I have a leaky faucet at home, I don’t put duct tape on it and hope that it won’t leak anymore. I take it apart, replace the problem component, make sure it doesn’t leak anymore, and go on to other things. If it leaks soon after the repair, then guess what? It’s not fixed.

The same concept applies to running a business, a government, or our lives in general. So come on, folks. Let’s dig up some dirt when trying to problem-solve. You may not like what you find, but in the end, the results will be much sweeter.

-- Cynthia Page


I thought the attempt to correlate going to war as a quick fix was too opinionated and not fact-based. It can easily be argued that war is a long-term fix to prevent further wars vs. appeasing world dictators by pretending to negotiate and solve problems.

I would suggest that the author stick to what he knows best, which is obviously quality and not global issues.

-- Trent

This was the best article I’ve ever read about getting to the heart of a problem. Micklewright’s comments about our society, although sad, are absolutely true. Fifteen years ago, I worked for an organization that truly walked and talked quality. My boss gave each of her employees a quality calendar listing a different quality ideal each day. One of those days gave an excellent script about using the five whys to find the root cause of a problem. That day was removed from the calendar and now sits in a frame. Unfortunately, that organization was bought out by one that “talked” but never “walked” quality. It is a sad state of affairs.

-- Judy Ploszaj


Quality and Risk

Greg Hutchins’ recent article (“Risk Management--the Future of Quality,” June 2008), albeit imperative, is hardly a revelation to business culture. Quality gurus from days gone by (e.g., Deming and Crosby) instilled the idea through employing management principles. As an example, see Deming’s 14 points to management. The Department of Defense, especially the U.S. Navy, fully embraced total quality management (TQM) and the quality “bandwagon” in the late 1970s. That was a seismic shift for us; the very idea that management should be bottom up was the real culture shock. Too bad most managers saw this as “the next thing” and ducked it until it passed. Now we are in the throes of lean Six Sigma. The U.S. Navy has embraced operational risk management (ORM), but it really has nothing to do with the quality management system. Perhaps, as many of my colleagues read Quality Digest, there will be an added emphasis. Thanks for a good article on an old subject--however, the future is now.

-- Roger Creamer


In It for You--and Me

I was excited to read this article (Joseph J. Caylor, “What’s in It for Me?” http://qualitydigest.com/IQedit/QDarticle_text.lasso?articleid=12721) and was prepared to send it to the president of our company until I realized that once again a manufacturing company is the example. Don’t get me wrong--Caylor’s article is good and I concur with the reasoning. Numerous external auditors have told me that auditing a service company is no different than auditing a manufacturing company. That just isn’t true! I have yet to see an auditor or article demonstrate the “cost of quality” or how a QMS saves a service company money--especially when the product happens to be people!

-- Marge Purnell


This article seemed to focus on how a QMS could help when something goes wrong. That is a tactical view. A QMS needs to operate at the board level, not just at the worker or manager level. A QMS should not just be focused on manufacturing. It should cover everything within the four walls of a company, from what and how the board of directors does things to when the product has breathed its last breath.

The author states: “The return is greater for manufacturing vs. nonmanufacturing, but the effort requires substantial energy from all levels of the organization.” I disagree. I have seen much greater value derived from a QMS in the information technology and health care environments than I have seen in a manufacturing environment.

It’s a good article, but I think that we in the quality profession are doing ourselves, our companies, and society at large a grave disservice by not fully leveraging what we know.

--Bob Kem


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