On Six Sigma, Defects, and Quality

Posted by: meikah | 4 September 2007 | 9:04 pm

I’m sure you’ve heard about the massive product recalls of Chinese products. A few months ago, also, a US-based pharmaceutical company distributing formula milk in the country had recalled their milk products because of rusting tin cans and possibly contaminated milk.

In one of the Six Sigma meetings that I attended last time, I knew that that pharmaceutical company was into quality methods, and was going into Six Sigma. Yet, defective products find their way into the market.

As in the Peter’s Principle where anything that works will be used in progressively challenging applications until it causes a disaster, it tells us that it really pays to implement a wholistic quality management initiative.

I was talking to a friend last night, and he mentioned about how China can learn from Japan. There was an era that Japan’s products were deemed inferior. But Japan didn’t stay long in the dump. Its government started revolutionizing how they operate things as late as 1946 when the U.S. Occupation Force’s mission was to revive and restructure Japan’s communications equipment industry.

General Douglas MacArthur was committed to public education through radio. Homer Sarasohn was recruited to spearhead the effort by repairing and installing equipment, making materials and parts available, restarting factories, establishing the equipment test laboratory (ETL), and setting rigid quality standards for products (Tsurumi 1990). Sarasohn recommended individuals for company presidencies, like Koji Kobayashi of NEC, and he established education for Japan’s top executives in the management of quality. Furthermore, upon Sarasohn’s return to the United States, he recommended W. Edwards Deming to provide a seminar in Japan on statistical quality control (SQC).

Read more about the history of Japan’s quality movement.

W. Edwards Deming, an American statistician, college professor, author, and consultant, made his greatest quality impact in Japan. In fact, he’s often referred to as the man who brought quality to Japan. We learned from the Japanese how to do SQC, TQC, ISO, 5S, Ishikawa, Kaizen, Gemba and many more.

It’s not too late for China, although it’s going to be an arduous journey to quality for them. They just need to find their Deming. :)

*Photo from MorgueFile

Filed under: Deployment, Processes, W. Edwards Deming

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