Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I received a comment on my posting of Science? Hardly!  It was a great comment; so much so that rather than post a response as a comment, I thought it better to create a new post.

The comment read in part: "PS. I am very interested in Quality concepts. Recently, I have tried to share some of my finding with people I encounter on a regular basis. The answers or comments have been shocking to say the least. With so much attitude working against quality, how have you been able to keep sane and to continue teaching this subject day in and day out against all odds?"

I appreciate the sentiment intended, but disagree with the premise.  My experience is that the number of folks NOT interested in Quality is very few, and most that are truly not interested pretty much fall into a category of dangerous behavior.  They are the folks who wake up and do say, "I wonder what I can  do today to screw things up?"

It is my distinct impression that most are interested, Most think they are working within the bounds of acceptable Quality and don't realize that small changes can reduce error and the amount of time they spend fixing and repeating. Many have never connected the dots between applying quality principles to their actual work, and making their own lives better. 

Small changes in Quality result in big TEEM savings.

Its kind of like golf lessons.  A small change in alignment before you hit the ball results in a lot less time looking for your ball in the weeds and woods. SMALL change - BIG affect.

Part of this is the fault of qualitologists who talk nonsense. We all have met those  "small q" quality people who say things like "Well CLSI says you have to write all SOPs in 35 pages."  or  "Well we have to keep all records forever.  If we don't then we will loose accreditation, get fined, or sued, or worse." or "If you make a change in a document you have to use red ink and no scratch-outs are allowed.  All changes must have a single line that goes through all the characters but does not obscure their readability."  or "I don't care what we do with regular specimens, test that PT sample again; in fact do it 3 more times".

No wonder Quality gets a bad reputation.

None of this is about making the laboratory work better; none of it is about being making the task easier.  That old style quality was more about power and making up rules and arrogance than improvement.   Laboratories have some serious issues to address.  Costs are sky-rocketing, the light of public awareness is making some of us very uncomfortable, and we are talking about ink colors!

In the golf lesson analogy, its like focusing on if you don't keep score with a 3 inch pencil then it doesn't count.  Wrong information and wrong message.

New Quality,  is about setting understandable and achievable goals and objectives and  policies and then setting out mechanisms to follow through.  New Quality is about creating simple techniques to capture problems and seeing if we can prevent them from happening again.  New Quality is about working with Quality Partners, not against them.   New Quality? Deming Quality? ToMAto - Tomato.

So I don't see Quality as against all odds.  I see it as a challenge and a mission, but one for which I have a lot of time and a lot of patience.


PS: TEEM: Time,Effort, Energy and Money.

PPS:  On a some what related note, visit Mike Mickelwright's RANT "We Gotta Make Quality Cool Again" at wwwlqualitydigest.com

1 comment:

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