Could it be that producers lost focus on the customer as their raison d’etre? Or are they not aware that they are consumers too? How can they be so dumb as to deceive themselves by creating a vicious circle that engulfs them-among other things- in a bad quality environment? Perhaps this last point is the key to enhancing the quality of our lives, i.e. businesses will have to set the example by becoming true believers in quality and by insisting to only produce and sell quality products.
Following the fashion
It all started in the early fifties when a frustrated US professor, W. Edwards Deming, gained the attention of the Japanese with what he had been trying to preach in his own country without success. He was lucky that the Japanese, being natural positive listeners without getting bored, not only listened but also acted favorably to Deming’s breaching. They adopted his views, deeply believed in them to the extent of becoming a second nature and a style of life for them. They also developed the concept into a product that they exported all over the world with a ‘made in Japan’ sticker of their own. Since then quality became Japan’s secret weapon to outsmart the international business competition. Quality Circles became a brand name to a Japanese invention. It took almost thirty years before American businesses began to respond when in 1980 concerns about American competitiveness steered many companies to new interest in quality. It took the Americans that long to realize that in order for them to survive, they had to change their ‘we know what is best for the consumer’ attitude to genuine awareness of their customers’ needs and expectations from the product. Deming believed that ‘the cause of sickness in American industry and resulting unemployment is failure of top management to manage.”
In addition to the other two quality gurus: Joseph Juran and Philip Crosby, who had taken further steps to improve on Deming’s Statistical Process Control (SPC) method to process and measure quality, corporate ‘seagulls’ flew to all ventures and branches all over the world with quality menus in their pockets to have the CEOs of these ventures join their quality salvation teams and apply quality programs in their organizations. They had to follow the fashion. As soon as the corporate seagulls fly back to their nests, panic will be felt throughout all management in each venture; a manager will hastily be knighted as ‘King Arthur of Quality’ except that he would not even have a toy sword to emphasize his authority; banners will be up with flashy slogans promoting the new management philosophy that miraculously changed overnight. Training mangers will soon be rehearsing before their bedroom mirrors, and company workers will be taught to follow the lead and form a good chorus chanting in unison: ‘quality, quality, we love quality.’