Quality Digest  |  01/29/2009


Giving Thanks

I have been a faithful and interested reader of Quality Digest and the “Quality Curmudgeon” column for many years. As is usually the case, I breeze through the magazine and then cut out the last page so I can take my time with it at a later point in time. I started this back in the day when I realized I cut them out for future reference or to forward to a colleague anyway.

I had not taken the time to read the “Give Thanks” column (December 2008) because, as vice president of sales and marketing for my company, I was too busy working my crazy hours keeping things afloat. Ironically, I have plenty of time to read old items I have saved, such as your column, since today is my first day of unemployment. As the 88-year-old patriarch of the family-owned business told me this past Friday, “Look at this as a learning experience. We can now get three college kids to do the work of a six-figure executive such as yourself.” With that they showed me the door. Ouch!

Even with my small severance package and no immediate prospects, I am writing to tell you I am still quite thankful for what I have. My wife and three kids are healthy, happy, and great to be with. I am healthy and reasonably intelligent. I too am thankful for the things you mention (except that “job” thing, at the moment), and I’m also thankful for one more: Even in the Great Depression, many people made their fortunes. Opportunity is available to all who are willing to sacrifice. I count myself among those.

Thank you for your inspiration.

--Jim Malone


Scott Paton responds: I just read your letter, and I was very moved by it. In fact, I showed it to my wife and it brought tears to both of our eyes.

Thank you for taking the time to share your experience with me. It’s very moving to know that something I wrote meant something to someone. These are difficult times for so many people. As a self-employed father of three young kids, I have to admit that I’ve had my share of sleepless nights in the last year.

I wish you much success in the job hunt. Please keep in touch and may God bless you and your family.


Taking Blame

Very succinctly put (“I’m Sorry--The Recession Is My Fault, Part 1, www.qualitydigest.com/inside/quality-insider-column/i-m-sorry-recession-my-fault-part-1.html ). I think that this article should be published where everyone, not just quality professionals, can read it. We truly have lost our soul to greed.

--Lorna M. Dobson


Hi Mike. Thanks tons for good thinking and great articles. I would like to somehow be part of the solution for this “I have yet to hear or read about a CEO with a quality background” problem. What actions in addition to your writing are you taking to address the issue? Is there something I can do to help?

--Paul Gerdes


Bravo! I loved your article on the recession. I have been in quality for 40 years and can tell you that profit has become more important than quality. Remember, these are the boys from institutions of higher learning. What did they learn that caused our society to fail so miserably? “Good enough” was their statement and their credo. It was more important to drive around in the latest luxury car and impress their friends than to realize how their products affected our society. “The party crowd,” I call them.

Believe it or not, this crash could be good. It will force them back to the quality drawing board and start them down the road of using that college degree in quality, economics, and business--in other words, for what is was intended.

Also, can they stop getting rich off necessities and invent something new? It seems that they are just cashing in on the previous generation’s work. Back to the lab, guys.

--Michele Chaney


I am about to buy a new vehicle. I was considering looking at a General Motors vehicle until I heard an interview with GM vice chairman Bob Lutz on NPR. It is transcribed at www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=99253055 . Here’s the part that made me decide not to try GM:

“Lutz has been in the car business for 45 years, so it’s a change for him to operate on the federal government’s nickel.

“‘I’ve never quite been in this situation before of getting a massive pay cut, no bonus, no longer allowed to stay in decent hotels, no corporate airplane. I have to stand in line at the Northwest counter,’ Lutz says. ‘I’ve never quite experienced this before. I’ll let you know a year from now what it’s like.’”

--Jane Fraser


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For 40 years Quality Digest has been the go-to source for all things quality. Our newsletter, Quality Digest, shares expert commentary and relevant industry resources to assist our readers in their quest for continuous improvement. Our website includes every column and article from the newsletter since May 2009 as well as back issues of Quality Digest magazine to August 1995. We are committed to promoting a view wherein quality is not a niche, but an integral part of every phase of manufacturing and services.