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Mark Graban

And what do you say when a typical manager at a typical company asks, "What is the ROI on that quality improvement?" Most of us have a narrow view on cost and quality, thinking that there is some tradeoff. Do you believe in the "quality is free" idea, as many teach? I tend to believe it because I've seen it in action! But not all do, unfortunately.

John Hunter

Aiming to limit defects for the customer is a good idea. I agree continually improving your products and service is a good idea. I think applying poka yoke concepts is a great idea to eliminating mistakes internally (in your organization) and in the design of your products and service so your customers avoid potential problems.

I believe it is possible to have systemic ways to reduce defects that are effective and a wise expenditure of time and resources.

I do not believe you succeed by declaring your goal to be zero defects. You succeed by creating a culture of never ending improvement, of customer focus, of fact based decision making, of learning, of "empowerment"...

Part of that improvement is reducing variation, reducing defects, implementing smart new mistake proofing - but innovation is too. Effectively zero defects is not really achievable in many cases. Defects are largely a matter of definition. As performance improves expectations will often rise. When you eliminate anything you would have called a defect years ago, standards are higher and things that would not have been called defects are no longer acceptable. At some point the system process advances to such a level where zero defects is possible in some cases but in many (say medical care, air transportation, education, computer software, restaurants, government, management consulting, civil engineering, legal services...) I really think it is basically impossible.

for more see:

http://curiouscatmanagement.blogspot.com/2006/01/zero-defects.html

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