The holidays celebrating parenthood may seem totally disconnected from the disciplines involved with the quality assurance profession, but parenthood may have more to do with quality than anything else.
Parents lay the foundation for their kids’ understanding of right and wrong.
Parents usually play the main role in helping a child develop and value
personal integrity. This training that parents give the next generation forms
the root foundation of the quality profession.
One simple definition of quality is that quality is the measure of the goodness
of something. To measure quality, goodness needs to be understood-and that
understanding comes from what your parents taught you.
Some measures of quality and goodness can be straightforward, such as measuring
a dimension on a part. The challenging issues in quality, where QA departments
play a key strategic role, are much more difficult and really come down to an
issue of character and personal integrity.
As a quality professional, will you go over your boss’s head to stop a shipment
that you and your staff don’t feel good about? Will you oppose a well-liked
cost savings because it involves a supplier with a bad track record? These are
the tough quality issues where you draw on what your parents taught you, not
what you learned during your ASQ certification training.
It is interesting to compare the value of good parenting to the value of some
well-established element in the quality profession such as ISO 9000. As readers
of this column know, I’ve never been a fan of ISO 9000. Even the most ardent
ISO 9000 supporters agree that there are many ISO 9000-registered companies
that produce poor quality products. Supporters and opponents to the standard
often agree that the adoption of ISO 9000 has little impact on the overall
quality culture in an organization.
What matters is the intent and the approach to quality that the company takes.
If the key people in the company care about the merit of their products, then
quality will be good and will continue to improve-with or without ISO 9000. If
they don’t have pride in their work or don’t care about what they push out the
door, implementing ISO 9000 won’t make a difference.
I often wonder about the people that make decisions or go along with pushing
bad product out the door. Did they have bad parents or have they disregarded
what their good parents taught them? What do they teach their kids?
In any event, when bad product knowingly goes out the door, it is not an issue
of a paragraph of ISO 9000 being violated or an incident that needs root cause investigation.
It’s an issue of character that is developed and molded by parents at an early
One might think that not taking a stand on a tough quality issue is the easy
way out, but that’s never been my experience. Making poor quality decisions and
not standing up for what is right usually snowballs into a much worse situation
down the road. Good parents teach their
kids that doing the right thing from the beginning is the way to minimize
problems-and simply the right way to go through life.
I’ve faced some tough quality problems over the years. As I wrestled with these
issues, I didn’t reach for the ISO standard or Juran’s Quality Control
Handbook. I had to access what my parents taught me as a child to get the right
answer to the product quality issues I was facing. The right answer was usually
the most difficult one in the short term but was always the one that left me
feeling good about myself in the long run. That’s important because I’ve got to
live with myself.
These holidays are a good time to think about how you are helping the kids in
your life grow and develop into quality individuals. Do you talk with them about right and wrong? Have you shared stories about the
implications of making quality decisions and bad decisions in your life?
Take a moment and think about the role your parents or other people special in
your life have played in your ability to make quality decisions and to feel
good about yourself.
Probing the limits: Quality Holidays
June 1, 2007