Quality Digest  |  08/30/2008


Regarding H. James Harrington’s video interview with Dirk Dusharme (“Profiles in Quality: Jim Harrington--Episode 2,” www.qualitydigest.com/inside/standards-video/profiles-quality-jim-harrington-episode-2.html): Harrington is highly recognized in the quality management society of China and has made significant contributions to Chinese quality management progress.

The Chinese government plays an important role in business, as pointed out by Harrington. Its responsibility is to ensure that products made in China are safe for consumption.

The Chinese government does not dictate what business should do. Like all business in other countries, Chinese business is led by market demands and consumers’ requirements. If a U.S. importer decides to order lower-grade products for its customers or fails to provide adequate quality specifications that meet U.S. standards, the U.S. consumers will get precisely what the importer ordered. It is not fair for the news media or consumers to blame Chinese producers for providing exactly what they were asked to produce.

By the way [regarding Harrington’s comment on the Chinese official who was executed], the person who got shot was a retired director of the Bureau of Drug Administration. He was convicted for taking bribes while in power.

--John T. Wu


Energy Crisis?

There are multiple ways to deal with this current “crisis” (“Energy Crisis or Opportunity?” “Quality Curmudgeon,” Scott M. Paton, August 2008). In my humble opinion the most important thing to do is to conserve, but in a nation of excesses, “conserve” is a four-letter word. Question: Why do you need to see a lot more data on global warming? Fact: It is getting warmer. Fact: Humans are contributing to the warming. The percentage is arguable. Fact: We can do something about our contribution now. What does a lot more data provide toward solving the “crisis”?

--Michael Johnson

The answer is to do [all the things Paton mentioned] except ethanol, which is a net negative energy, and biofuels, which could never have enough production to matter. You cannot ignore cost-effectiveness. Yes, we can save oil by driving slower and walking, but the time lost will probably be worth far more than the cost of the fuel used. The problem with oil is it’s just better than its alternatives at the moment. Nuclear is the best alternative, except, as the author said, What do you do with the waste?

--Don Sumners

The Bureau of Land Management, Report No. 3, May, 2008, states that, “Public lands are estimated to contain 31 billion barrels of oil and 231 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.” We are swamped in crude oil resources. The politicians are playing political games with the citizens, and until the voters wake up and kick them out, nothing will be done.

--Carl Backe


Negative Attraction

Regarding the article “I Attract Poor Service” (Bill Kalmar, www.qualitydigest.com/inside/quality-insider-column/i%E2%80%99m-a-magnet-poor-service.html ): I work with the Canadian equivalent of NIST, and I find that the regimented policies that the government and other large companies impose on purchases invite poor service. Companies that do get on the list to service large companies find that the bureaucracy is costly to them, and that they likely had to price themselves so low that the service attitude is, “If we have time we will get back to you (what do you expect for nothing?)”

--Mary Anne Frenette

You might find it helpful in a future article to focus attention on management, which is responsible for the culture within an organization, rather than on the staff, who are doing as they have been taught. In your story about a polo shirt, you referred to “…a classic example of an employee adhering to company policy and thus losing a sale.” Most companies expect their employees to adhere to company policy. It’s the company policy that is the problem, not the employee.

--Larry Beckon


Outsourcing Quality

Thanks for your article on outsourcing and, specifically, internal and supplier audits (“Outsourcing the Quality Function,” Nicolette Dalpino, July 2008). Performing internal and supplier audits is primarily what I do as a consultant. There is an additional reason why some of my larger clients hire me. As an outsider, I’m not involved in any of the internal politics of the organization, so the audit findings are never interpreted as being politically motivated.

--Wendy Parr


Article Needs Calibrating

On the whole, I enjoyed reading “A Practical Approach to ISO/IEC 17025” (Nicolette Dalpino, August 2008), which highlights a number of problem areas for accredited laboratories. In fact, many of these problems also apply to any company that uses calibrated inspection, measuring, or test equipment, and is or wants to be registered to ISO 9001.

The article was marred by one serious error. The first point in the “Know & Go” box on page 33 includes the statement, “The key to having a successful quality system is to become accredited by… NVLAP….” This misleading statement implies that there is only one accreditation body in the United States. In fact, there are six in the United States, plus three others in Canada and Mexico, that are signatories to the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) mutual recognition arrangement (MRA) and the MRAs of various regional accreditation cooperations.

--Graeme C. Payne

Editor’s Note: You are absolutely right, Graeme, and thanks for the correction. The North American list of ILAC signatories can be found in this month’s News Digest section, under “Errata.”


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