The Twain Should Not Meet : Addressing Chronic Loss of Quality and Excuses For It

Another in a series:

Do Not Tolerate Poor Quality!

Raise Your Voice! Do Not Be Silenced!


…the essence of the work of Dr Juran is “The Juran Trilogy”

Quality Control
• Quality Improvement
• Quality Planning

The Juran Trilogy is a very powerful conceptual diagram. On the surface, it
appears to have much in common with Deming’s special and common causes
of variation. Sporadic spikes relate to special causes, so people react to bring
the process back within the original zone of control. The “zone of control” gives
conceptually the notion of process capability, or the extent of common cause
variation present in a system.

Additionally, the Trilogy has conceptual issues in common with the Taguchi
loss function. The loss function says that the more process output falls away
from the nominal aim of a system, the greater the loss incurred by society.
Sometimes Juran uses “Performance, Good to Bad” as the vertical axis of the
Trilogy diagram, sometimes he uses “Cost of Poor Quality”. Either way, Juran
is saying that the more performance moves from “good” to “bad”, the more
chronic loss is built into the system.

Deming says on page 217 of The New Economics:

 “Use of a loss function is restricted to the realm of losses that are
measurable.......The most important use of a loss function is to help us
change from a world of specifications to a continual reduction of variation
about the target, through improvement of processes”

The real power for the loss function for me, therefore, is conceptual. This goes,

too, for the Trilogy, and one might say:

“The most important use of the Trilogy diagram is to help us change from
a world that regards poor performance as inevitable, to a structured approach to
quality improvement – getting performance toward the nominal ideal.”

It is this structured approach to quality improvement that Juran calls “Project-byProject Improvement”.

Thus Juran is trying to draw attention to the “Heavy Losses” incurred by
companies not effectively managing the systems they are charged with leading.

*** *** *** ***

From Wikipedia:

Juran’s Trilogy

… the “Juran’s trilogy,” an approach to cross-functional management that is composed of three managerial processes: quality planning, quality control and quality improvement. These functions all play a vital role when evaluating quality.


Quality Planning: The quality planning phase is the activity of developing products and processes to meet customers’ needs. It deals with setting goals and establishing the means required to reach the goals. The various steps in the quality planning process are as below:

  • Establishing quality goals
  • Identify the customers- those who will be impacted by the efforts to meet the goals
  • Determine the customer’s needs
  • Develop processes that are able to produce those product features
  • Establish process controls, and transfer the resulting plans to the operating forces

Quality Control: This process deals with the execution of plans and it includes monitoring operations so as to detect differences between actual performance and goals. It consists of three steps:

1. Evaluate actual quality performance

2. Compare actual performance to quality goals

3. Act on the difference

Quality Improvement: The process is for obtaining breakthrough in quality performance, and it consists of several steps:

1. Establish the infrastructure needed to secure annual quality improvement

2. Identify the specific needs for improvement- the improvement projects

3. Establish project teams with clear responsibility for bringing the project to a successful conclusion

4. Provide the resources, motivation, and training needed by the teams to- Diagnose the cause, Stimulate establishment of remedies, and Establish controls to hold the gains.

*** *** *** ***

Don’t Offer Excuses for Poor Quality

If/when Quality issues are pointed out to you/ to someone – and you/they take to a defensive stance – insisting that “your/their process” did this or that, and that others – your/their stakeholders “signed off” – yet the outputs were riddled with RED BEADS: obvious spelling errors, conflicting information (such as due dates or the number of awards available or the names of the awards) on the same page –  it is obvious that your/their Process doesn’t work – and that you/they are part of the problem rather than a part of the solution.

Others in the Process – the specification Process and the creation Process and the review Process – should not be blamed – for the Process does not work. Take the blame and get on with it – with “it” being to address the problem.

The late Geary Rummler has written: “Put a good performer in a bad system and the system wins every time.” Of course there a heroes and their heroics – who save the day despite the odds against them, stacked up against them by the Process, the System, the Management, the Leadership.  And I believe Deming would also pin those red beads on Management – who control the system.

Leadership, when confronted with a Quality Issue (Problem or Opportunity) should thank the sender of the insight/ information/complaint – rather than push back with excuses.

Benjamin Franklin: “I never knew a man who was good at making excuses who was good at anything else.”

Me, I agree with this quote – from anonymous – as I used to (before the days of Wikipedia) attribute this quote to Mark Twain/Samuel Clemens: “There are Two Kinds of Excuses. Poor Excuses. And Damned Excuses.”

What he, Samuel Clemens wrote was, “There are a thousand excuses for failure, but never a good reason.”

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