Friday, September 30, 2005

The Three Sins in Quality

It's the end of the month. For most of us that means time to work on our monthly quality reports. As I tally up the defects (sorry, nonconformances) against production, by category, by plant, by month; my mind starts thinking about something I learned at church.

In the Catholic faith, we are taught that sins are divided into two categories: mortal and venial. Mortal sins are serious offenses against God. Venial sins are pardonable, lesser offenses. Mortal sins are split into two degrees of seriousness, spiritual sins and carnal sins. Of course, as this topic was being discussed, guess what the first thing that came to my mind was?

"Hey, this is just like quality defects (nonconformances) at work: Critical, Major and Minor defects. We track them in great detail on the monthly quality reports."

Imagine God reviewing our sins on a monthly basis like a quality report.

"Ok Mike, let's go over your sin charts for last month. Looks like under Mortal-Spiritual sins (Criticals) your are at 0 PPM...Very Good. It says here that your Mortal-Carnal sins (Majors) are also at 0 PPM, excellent month to month trend for the fiscal year. Keep up the good work."

What in MY name is going on with your venial (minor) sins? You are posting a 13,568 PPM for the month. Just look on Friday the 16th. Good ME, you had a big spike on that night."

"Can you explain what were the root causes attributing to this spike?"

"What are your countermeasures?"

"I expect you to fill out this Corrective/Preventative Action Form out completely and return it directly to me within 10 glory days."

"Overall, Mike, I am pleased with your progress however you have to focus on your venial sin PPM. Thank ME that I possess infinite forgiveness for all sins that your soul is saved."

Funny as it may seem, I just don't believe it works out that way. As humans, we are granted the gifts of reason and free-will. Therefore, we can choose. We also can easily rationalize our thoughts and actions, putting things into degrees so they don't seem so bad. For our mortal minds, I guess that helps us sleep at night.

According to the Bible (NAB John 8:11), "Then Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you, Go and from now on do not sin anymore." Jesus did not say, go and do not commit any spiritual sins, keep your mortal sins down and try to stay below "xx" number of venial sins. Based on this passage, all sins are the same in that all sins are undesirable and we are directed to simply sin no more.

Looking at the quality world on earth, we should have the same belief in that, just like with sin, all defects (nonconformances) are undesirable. Breaking defects into categories is a waste of effort.

For business products and services, instead of judgment day before God, we answer to our customers. Unlike God, our customers are not so forgiving. They do not possess infinite capacity to forgive us for our nonconformances (sins). They will abandon us for others and we will no longer have a relationship with them. In other words, our business will go to hell.

With this in mind, we should not worry so much about what constitutes a major or minor nonconformance. We should not waste time and effort putting a spin on degrees of our quality performance.

To repeat the words of Jesus, we should "Go and from now on do not sin anymore."

1 comment:

gillisch said...

a big old amen on that one...there is no level of acceptable non-conformities. Some great analogies