Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Tietz's Law

Years ago I promulgated a law of manufacturing and quality assurance that I think would be approved of by C. Northcote Parkinson. The law states "Whoever finds the defect is responsible for it." As a young engineer, I detected a major material flaw and wrote it up. The first words out of managements mouth was "What are you going to do about it." During my wanderings through this life, I have encountered this management attitude innumerable times. This law has been taught to quality assurance students as a precautionary tale by friends of mine in academia.

There is a similar quality situation where the same words mean different things. The charter of Purchasing is to buy low dollar. If they don't entirely understand the specs, Purchasing has been known to buy items that don't meet the requirements. Quality will generally detect the sub standardness and reject it. Meanwhile, Manufacturing, trying to make or keep schedule will say they can make it right. This puts a big load on Quality to ensure they do just that. Note now that Purchasing looks good because they have saved the company money, Manufacturing looks good because they keep their schedule, and quality is over budget. The Customer, if there is in-shop inspection, notes that Quality is working their asses off to get them a good product, but the company has lousy quality. The MBAs and CPAs get hold of this and give pay raises to Purchasing, more time to do the job to Manufacturing (because they get their estimates from past performance), and fire the Quality manager, because the customer says the company has lousy quality (with a small q).

The same thing happens even if Purchasing is not involved. The lousier the job Manufacturing does, the more nonconformances occur and the more over-budget Quality goes.

With all the advance degrees Management has; with all the years experience; and often being born in the best of families, it has never occured to them that Quality Assurance has never made one product - that is the job of Manufacturing.

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