Thursday, 27 October 2011

Yup, if you don’t have a QMS, well, you don’t’ have a QMS

I have often wondered why we put up with the number of consumer devices that fail to consistently perform the functions that they are designed for. The most common ones are computers that freeze up and cell phones or similar wireless devices that are "buggy" or have short battery life, computers that frequently need re-booting, software application that need patches to continue to do what they were originally designed to do. Imagine Boeing and Lockheed selling commercial jets planes need refueling every 200 km and cannot successfully complete a take off and landing without having the entire landing gear replaced every fifth cycle.
I acknowledge that the complexity of these devices have grown, and the greater complexity, the greater the probability of errors and omissions. I do however posit that the philosophy of Quality by Design (QbD) when embraced and properly implemented should show a decrease or elimination of such failures. Included in the QbD tool box should be at least one if not a series of specifications that defines what parameters the production process and the product should meet for the product to conform to the company’s definition of Quality. Its recent problems with connectivity aside, an example is how Research In Motion (RIM), the company that makes the once popular Blackberry devices acquired and used an operating system for the Blackberry Playbook that was originally designed for other mobile environments like automobiles and network equipment. Battery life was not a consideration when the software was designed for those applications. Installing it in the Blackberry Playbook meant that it was a power hog for the size of the battery. No design process or product can be perfect, hence along side these specifications should also be a risk analysis that identifies the risks and the how these are mitigated.
A quick look at the technology news reports and it appears that many of these companies rush to release their next generation of me-too devices before they actually complete their product design and testing phase. Given the high number of consumer complaints with these devices, it appears that with some of the makers of these products, either the companies do not actually have a definition of Quality that matches their consumers’ expectations, do not have a Quality Management System or arrogantly believe that the consumers simply do not have any other choices but to buy their product despite how poorly they are designed and made.
Having a Quality Management System is kind of like being pregnant, you cannot have a partial one. I am reminded of the Apple’s iPhone advertisement where you are shown an interesting array of Apps you can enjoy with your iPhone. The voice over ends with “Yup if you don’t have an iPhone, well, you don’t have an iPhone”. Similarly, “Yup, if you don’t have a Quality Management System, well, you don’t have a Quality Management System”.

Saturday, 1 October 2011


One of my favourite radio programs is Terry O'Reilly’s Age of Persuasion on CBC. One of the best episode “Do This or Die” was air in November 2008 where Terry O’Reilly discusses the advertisment written by Bob Levenson of Doyle Dane Bernbach in a TIME Inc. advertising contest. Terry regards this as a manifesto for those in marketing. The value? INTEGRITY. Written in the late 60’s, this value is as relevant today for Quality Management professionals as it is to the advertising industry, indeed to any industry.
Judge for yourself:

Is this ad some kind of trick?
No. But it could have been. And at exactly that point rests a do or die decision for American business. We in advertising, together with our clients, have all the power and skill to trick people.
Or so we think. But we’re wrong. We can’t fool any of the people any of the time. There is indeed a twelve-year-old mentality in this country; every six-year-old has one. We are a nation of smart people. And most smart people ignore most advertising because most advertising ignores smart people.
Instead we talk to each other. We debate endlessly about the medium and the message. Nonsense. In advertising, the message itself is the message. A blank page and a blank television screen are one and the same. And above all, the messages we put on those pages and on those television screens must be the truth. For if we play tricks with the truth, we die.
Now. The other side of the coin. Telling the truth about a product demands a product that’s worth telling the truth about.
Sadly, so many products aren’t. So many products don’t do anything better. Or anything different. So many don’t work quite right. Or don’t last. Or simply don’t matter.
If we also play this trick, we also die. Because advertising only helps a bad product fail faster. No donkey chases the carrot forever. He catches on. And quits.
That’s the lesson to remember. Unless we do, we die. Unless we change, the tidal wave of consumer indifference will wallop into the mountain of advertising and manufacturing drivel. That day we die.
We’ll die in our marketplace. On our shelves. In our gleaming packages of empty promises. Not with a bang. Not with a whimper. But by our own skilled hands.
Doyle Dane Bernbach Incorporated

Great Stuff!