Re: YOU are responsible, even when YOU are not to blame (long)

Subject: Re: YOU are responsible, even when YOU are not to blame (long)
From: SteveFJong -at- aol -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 13 Apr 2003 12:26:58 EDT

Andrew Plato <gilliankitty -at- yahoo -dot- com> has more to say about root-cause
analysis and workers in general.

>> Consistency is a FACET of quality work, but consistency alone does not lead
>> to quality product. Consistent crap is still crap.

I won't argue with you about the central importance of consistency to
quality. Rather than make the effort to read any of the URLs I provided, you
seem to have repeated your opinion, so I won't waste time providing more;
I'll simply state that you don't know what you're talking about and move on.

>> Root cause analysis, Steve is mostly a buzz word. Another in the endless
>> diversions that consume corporations and organizations desperately
>> for improvement. I applaud the concept, but its mostly a diversion. The
>> of this is that root cause analysis rarely leads to the true root cause of
>> problems -- morons. Morons in positions of authority are almost always the
>> reason there are problems ... Most organizations are dysfunctional because
>> the people in those organizations are irresponsible, lazy, or ignorant.
>> And they build processes to cover up their laziness, ignorance,
>> or irresponsibility.

Wow! Tell us how you *really* feel about people 8^(

You seem to lack knowledge of root-cause analysis or any other
quality-management technique. Ignorance is not a point of view. I'll simply
say that it's one of the tools for quality improvement; that I've
demonstrated how it would work in an analysis of a trivial tech-writing
problem (typos in documents) and a significant one (late projects); and that
the results of such methods speak for themselves. I can't make you drink. But
the true irony is that you actually are agreeing with a tenet of Deming's
teachings: that process, the responsibility of management, is almost entirely
responsible for quality problems.

I, on the other hand, do *not* feel that people are "irresponsible, lazy,
ignorant morons." It is axiomatic in the work of Deming, Crosby, and others
that people fundamentally want to do good work. Deming, in particular, saw
the best and worst of people over an extended career (he worked in quality
right up to his death at age 93), yet he thought people were fundamentally
good. Once again, the success of his methodology speaks for itself; the
quality of products produced by those irresponsible, lazy, ignorant, moronic
blue-collar workers is pretty damn good these days. Maybe people are better
than you give them credit for? I am content with my world view. We'll have to
agree to disagree.

>> [Y]our entire argument is based on faulty assumptions. You cannot en
>> masse apply manufacturing-centric concepts to environments where the
>> job-tasks are fundamentally different.

The remaining issue you raise is whether software development or technical
writing (or indeed, any white-collar or knowledge work) fits into the factory
model. No one believes Crosby at first, but he's done pretty well for
himself. (He was originally the quality director at ITT, which has a lot of
white-collar components; he saved them hundreds of millions of dollars a
year.) The URLs you ignored were mainly from high-tech industries. But is
tech writing really the only place where quality cannot intrude? It's a
matter of perspective. As I said, if you produce one product, or write one
book, it seems like art. When you do it again, and discover that other people
do it too, it seems like craft. Once you start cranking it out, you realize
it's a business like anything else.

I think the output of even a modestly sized group is more alike than
different, certainly in the process and even in the overall aspects of the
product. If you're not seeing and encouraging commonality in your company's
work, you're missing a huge opportunity to streamline your operations, reduce
scrap and rework, and increase your profits. But you're responsible for your
own happiness; I'll stick to working on mine.

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