Quality Progress - May 2013 - 45
QualiTy in The FirsT Person
BY Fitz-GeorGe a. CartY
Who’s on Top?
Quality can be an uphill battle
I’m puzzled by the approaches that
the foreman, so I left it up to the inspec-
his surprise, frustration and dismay—his
many leaders use to engage their employ-
tors to find the damaged parts.
supervisors were angry at him because he
gave suggestions to the engineer. Going
ees. Instead of inculcating the pride of
workmanship, initiative and openness,
forward, they forbade him to stick his
many leaders encourage a fear-driven
A few years later, while working as a
nose in quality-related matters again.
and reactive work culture by instituting
laboratory shift technician for another
limiting and detrimental work systems
manufacturer, I experienced another
A quality revelation
and policies. Throughout my career, I have
disturbing event. I found that a process
I am sure that most of us have found
witnessed these counterproductive efforts
had continually generated off-target
ourselves in similar situations. Maybe we
again and again.
results—but not during the other techni-
conformed to shoddy work practices be-
cians’ shifts. My persistence in reporting
cause we feared being different or feared
The real world
the off-target results caused my supervisor
ridicule from our peers or supervisor.
My first summer job in college was as
to berate me.
an assembly line worker at a major auto
My eyes were opened and my confi-
After a major customer complained
dence was revived when I discovered
company. On my first day, the supervi-
months later, it was discovered that my
the world of quality management and
sor introduced me to the foreman, who
results were correct and that the other
the teachings of W. Edwards Deming. I
provided me with a 10-minute training
technicians—who feared criticism from
experienced a feeling of redemption when
I realized that two of Deming’s 14 points
padded their results.
on quality management reinforced the
Recently, a friend
importance of reducing fear and called
turned to me for advice.
for the elimination of mass inspection
My friend, who is em-
of products. I discovered there are work
ployed by a parts manu-
systems that supported employee involve-
facturer, explained that
ment, initiative and empowerment.
an overseas customer
Many organizations are still populated
had rejected incom-
by supervisors who manage with an iron
ing parts. An engineer
fist. They continue to produce timid and
at my friend’s com-
crisis-driven organizational cultures. As a
pany enlisted his help
result, organizations destroy the commit-
to resolve the problem.
ment of their employees and the pride of
We discussed some ap-
workmanship that maximizes creativity
proaches to find the root
and innovation. The quality professional
cause and implement
must not be discouraged. We must fear-
a solution. My friend
lessly promote the power of quality in
session before I was left on my own to
passed on the suggestions to the engineer.
work. Inexperienced and new, I followed
At the company’s management meeting,
the procedures as carefully as I could.
the engineer presented the ideas and gave
My slower pace attracted the attention
my friend full credit. The plant manager
of my co-workers and the assembly line
ordered that the suggestions be imple-
foreman. They shouted, “Let the bloody
mented immediately. Soon, the number of
parts run, the inspectors will catch them.”
rejected parts fell.
I feared ridicule from my co-workers and
My friend called me afterward to share
transforming the workplace. QP
FITZ-GEORGE A. CARTY is a behavioral
and organizational change practitioner in Decatur, GA, and an associate
of Interact Performance Systems Ltd.
in Anaheim, CA. He holds a master’s
degree in management from Antioch
University in Seattle. Carty is an associate member of ASQ.
May 2013 • QP 45
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Quality Progress - May 2013
Mr. Pareto Head
Avoiding an Avalanche
What Makes You Tick?
Quality in the First Person
Special Section: ASQ Enterprise and Site Members
3.4 per Million
One Good Idea
One Good Idea
Quality Progress - May 2013