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It starts with a question: “What’s the worst that can happen?” Sounds like the sentiment underlying any over-the-top movie centered on a buddy’s bachelor party.

However, the question has a life of its own, permeating just about every facet of our lives. It’s become a mantra, made popular by poet and activist Maya Angelou and sales wizard and speaker Zig Ziglar—“Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.”

In its most elaborate form, it is part of exposure therapy, a cognitive behavior therapy. Imagine a person with a fear that if they do not do something seemingly inconsequential, such as remove a bracelet or go outside to get the mail, they will die. It’s called thanatophobia. It is irrational, but very real for its sufferers.

Therapists will begin by asking the question, delving into the specifics of what if. When every possibility is conjured along with a way to overcome each one, confidence will grow in our ability to deal with the situation. In essence saying, even if the worst happens, we will know how to deal with it.

Exposure therapy takes it a step further and, in a very controlled way, turns going out to get the mail into a reality. As we experience going to the mailbox and retrieving the mail over and over again and realizing it does not result in our death, our discomfort with getting the mail begins to subside.

Individuals, businesses, and governments do roughly the same thing. Have you ever tested an unfamiliar chair by pressing on it to get a sense if it can hold your weight or pulled on a door after you’ve locked it to make sure it is secure?

“Ever experienced a fire drill? I’m sure you have.”

Governments and other organizations perform drills to ensure security in a crisis. Ever experienced a fire drill? I’m sure you have. These drills are our way of ensuring we will be ready if the worst should happen and “experiencing” it gives us confidence that we will be able to handle it if the worst should happen.

Possibly nowhere else is this preparedness more evident than in manufacturing, particularly in quality. Today, putting products through the paces of its soon-to-be environment goes without saying. Knowing a product meets specifications and can withstand the stresses it will be put through is an unquestioned part of the manufacturing process.

Quality processes not only increase our confidence in the products produced, but also in the health of the organization producing them. As Arthur Smith writes about color measurement, “When a product doesn’t meet color specifications, it leads to rework, wasted materials, added costs, delays, and impatient customers. With a supply chain already stressed and materials costs rising and in short supply, manufacturers can’t risk incorrect color.”

One of the processes helping us tackle these risks is Lean manufacturing. As contributing editor Genevieve Diesing writes, “Lean manufacturing applications have evolved greatly since the 1980s, when the term was coined in association with the Toyota Production System. Lean was originally focused on the manufacturing floor, but its methodologies have reached all levels of operations, from procurement to marketing. It has been adopted across a range of industries, from healthcare to hospitality.”

So, check out Arthur’s article, “Is Your Color Workflow Resilient for Today’s Supply Challenges?”, Genevieve’s article, “Why Lean Principles Stand the Test of Time” and everything else we have to offer in this month’s Quality.

Enjoy and thanks for reading!