Pumpkins are chunkin’, the leaves are changin’ and Thanksgiving cornucopias are being filled by the second. There’s something about autumns crisp air that makes me romanticize the ‘coziness’ of it all, but can you blame me?
As an ex-pat American, I sometimes forget that my associations with the autumn season don’t align with those of my friends here in Stockholm, Sweden. But, if there’s one thing we’ve all come to an agreement upon, it’s that Thanksgiving dinner is a must.
I introduced the tradition a few years ago and it’s been an annual event since then, hosted at my place- in potluck fashion. I fix the bird, stuffing, and taters, and each attendee stands for their own dish. It is a feast of epic proportions, and there’s a spread of food big enough to feed Coxey’s Army (as my Grandmother always says).
The Division I had just joined was enjoying great success in Sales and Development. They had created a modular building block design for their products. Simply there were over two dozen different building block designs which could be configured in innumerable combinations to create the end product.
Each building block was designed to be a low-cost item. Based on the customer requirements and specifications the building blocks could be combined in varying quantities. Then a custom outer case, with the appropriate inputs and outputs, would be created to house all of the building blocks, interconnected on a master mother board.
It sounded great on paper and on Powerpoint slides. But what came next was an absolute nightmare.
The CEO came in to my office carrying a product and said, “The label is off centre on this item. It has a quality defect.” I responded, “Is that actually a quality defect? Quality is a measure of conformance to a standard, and we have no standards.” The CEO didn’t quite understand the distinction. Certainly the item was mis-labelled. But there was absolutely no Quality management process in the company.
I toured all of the company’s facilities around the globe. It seemed like we had a tremendous amount of resource working on quality. But they were spending 100% of their time on inspection. A report subsequently confirmed my concerns. Over 10% of our entire direct workforce was spending the vast majority of their time doing 100% inspection. We had a Quality management system but it’s only principle was to inspect in quality.
Whichever the situation was, proper Quality management objectives required something to change in both cases!