Views from the Hills by R. E. Stevens, GENESIS II (The Second Beginning) E-Mail

Am I not Seeing Things Correctly or is There a Serious Disconnect in the Business World?

Primarily in the 1980s there was a strong movement towards quality in the business world.  As a result, many programs were created to achieve this business world quality.  I can remember being sent to study "Total Quality" (TQ).  Implementing Total Quality (TQ), and "Quality Function Deployment" (QFD) to name a few.  Programs within companies were created to ensure that the steps in the Quality Programs were followed.  In P&G we called our program the Product Launch Model.  Behind these programs wa the promise of new products that got to the market in record time with a much higher degree of quality.  (Played out in increased customer satisfaction.)  From where I am sitting, I see great promises with poor implementation.

During the past three years, I have seen more companies fall than ever before.  This is especially in the dot com arena.  I have heard management say, "Put it on the market and we will correct any problems when they come up."  As I mentioned in a Views this past summer, many companies today do not even adequately Beta Test their product before introducing it into the market.

The above was stimulated by comments from a very good friend, Ms. Janet Pizzarello.  Actually along with my wife, Janet reviews all of my Views before they are distributed.  They correct my spelling and punctuation as well as content.  In response to my article on simplicity, Janet wrote me about an experience in Boston.  It seems that they were going to replace their old trolley cars with new modern cars featuring up-to-date technology.  The contract was awarded to Boeing-Vitrol of Philadelphia.  The company had never made street cars before and were starting from scratch.  (Now should this have not been a very big Red Flag?)  The cars were late in coming because of problems working out the bugs.  So the city ordered some new cars made in the old design to tide them over.  The old cars were simple, heavy-duty, and had few electronic parts.  The doors opened and closed with a hand-operated lever system much like those of a school bus.

Once the Boeing cars were delivered, it took a long time to get them up and running.  There were constant breakdowns.  Then it happened, a typical Boston Snow.  These new electronic feats of marvel had many safety features, one of which was that the doors must be closed in order for the cars to move.  With all the wiring under the car, along with the snow, guess what happens when the electrical stuff comes in contact with the moisture?  Yep, shorts.  Cars would not move.  Lights would go out, and that is not good when you are traveling underground.

Janet goes on with good examples concerning why these cars should not have been made and the old reliable stand-bys should have.  She raises many good questions about the thinking of the city administration in ordering something as complicated from an inexperienced manufacturer without adequate pre-testing before purchase.  Actually we may ask the same thing of the Boston Administration when it comes to the expressway they have been building for years through Boston.  What has happened to all those steps in Total Quality that are required before implementation of a project?

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