For example: We recently leased a car from an organization with an exceptional quality reputation. On the day we picked up the car, the general manager decided to move his financial staff into sales positions and vice versa. No training was involved; it was strictly “on the job training.” The end result was a financial package that was rejected by the bank and had to be re-written and signed by us three times. For this branch of the organization, quality was not integrated as a conscious thought pattern. Quality IS knowledge; they failed to comprehend the conceptual pattern and connection. Quality IS also many other things, check out the CONTENTS tab on the menu.
Quality has been defined by some, practiced by most, however; its meaning has eluded all but a few. According to Ann Lamott “We write to expose the unexposed. If there is one door in the castle you have been told not to go through, you must.” That door, for me, is meaning, and quality is the castle — I propose providing a key for opening the door and conducting an inquiry for management in all functions. The meaning of quality has escaped notice due to the noise and confusion of multiple definitions and practices that are purported to be the harbingers of organization sustainability. This book is written for the 15,250,000 men and women that were reported to be employed in management occupations in 2011 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, and for anyone seeking the meaning of quality.
This will be an important book for my community because it will provide the seeds for developing principles that drive unbiased practices. I am not talking about the community of quality assurance or quality control leaders; I am talking about all management in all functions. For example…
- The purchasing manager that changes a supplier for a part that meets specifications but is so highly variable that it shuts the line down.
- The human resource manager that decides to base an important change in policy on an unrepresentative sample of employees.
- The operation manager that ships a product to a new customer, who samples all incoming product using statistical methods, and questions why the shipment is rejected.
- The engineering manager that uses data from random samples drawn by the quality assurance department to design a new line and then discovers that the line won’t produce product in specification.
These are all problems associated with just one field of knowledge that can be prevented with a few simple conceptual patterns that will drive principles not needing practices. Unbiased practices are principles.
Abraham Kaplan in his book, The Conduct of Inquiry, captured the essence of why we need to create conceptual patterns and express them in theory.
“When we are told the color of a substance we have learned little, but when we are told its chemical composition we have learned a very great deal—all the known reactions that depend on that composition. There is chemistry, as it were, for all things, and our scientific conceptualizations aim at identifying the elements and compounds of this chemistry. We are caught up in a paradox, one which might be called the paradox of conceptualization. The proper concepts are needed to formulate a good theory, but we need a good theory to arrive at the proper concepts.”
The color of a substance is a concept and a pattern is a composition. We can identify the proper concepts by creating patterns. Patterns contain the elements and compounds of quality theory. The chemistry, DNA, and the subsequent theory of quality presented on these pages can be used to avoid keeping quality open to interpretation by anyone, at anytime, for any purpose. To reveal meaning, managers, in all functions, need to understand that…
Patrick Lou Kelly, MSQA