Top-10 lists are usually good.
When I think of the word quality, the first thing I think of is my Toyotas – a Corolla and Tundra. Quality, value, dependability, continual improvements from previous generations, support, fit-and-finish, ergonomics, comfort, etc.
I actually quit my last Process Engineering job because of continual, agonizing, useless conversations with various managers, directors, and Cxx’s. They didn’t want to improve a process (quality) because it was too much work, was too costly (regardless of projected (and occasionally PROVEN) ROIs), they wouldn’t even look at the proposals, or, and this was the single biggest problem of all, they didn’t want to improve a process because the improvement was too easy. Yes, too easy. They hated it because it made them look stupid that they were doing some idiotic process for years and a simple change would yield vast improvements. But if they did that, they were immediately called out as to why they had never looked at their own processes and never gave their managers or supervisors the freedom to consider making changes. It was preposterous the changes that were NOT made because of their appearance and to keep their jobs. They would rather close the shop (which they ultimately did) rather than own up to not reviewing their own processes or take a little heat for making mistakes (being human?). I gave up and quit. Quality? Not much…
When I wrote self-service, I meant on the vendor's web site, not necessarily a user forum. In many case there are know issues with resolutions that are detailed in FAQs or ERRATA.
I recently read that people today are better at retaining where to find information on the internet than retaining the information itself.
Well, I designed and built Production Relay Test Sets. These devices were used by the assembly people to adjust and test about 75 different miniature relays. My boxes, 12 of them, tested about 8 to 12 million relays per year. I learned a very great deal from the WECO folk, and by rights, I should have paid them for the privilege. I was proud, perhaps absurdly so, that after my first batch of 8 units they came back for 4 more.
But what can we as Engineers do to influence the choice of Good, Fast, Cheap and the Race to the Bottom? The lack of some reasonable level of Quality affects ALL of us.
I think that we need to help those that provide Products and Services with Quality some competive advantage and a reason for doing so. I have suggested something like an Engineer's Seal of Quality where we all vote and recognize those products and services that we feel have done a good job. Other Engineers will see those ratings and begin to use and prefer products and services that are well respected. Some companies would see this as something to strive for. It may be a large undertaking, but could be automated and administered by someone respected like the EEtimes.
I am sorry, but I haven't yet thought of anything better, where the users of those products and services (us), as a group, may use the power of our recomendations to help directly influence the Quality of the items that we use.
Excellent list. I would also ask if there is any "Lessons Learned" review (I call them Lessons Ignored, but that's another story) and whether or not engineering and customer input from prior projects is considered when moving on to the next one.
The reason for the decline of quality is two-fold. First, when upper management tried and was ultimately successful in detaching loyalty from the company to the employees, there is less effort to make things good, as you are just on your way from one position or company to another. The 2nd part is where the company invests it's money. There is a lot less investment into the people who design and build product and a lot more invested into peripheral functions. It's saddening to thing that management can't grasp that hiring a $100,000 accountant will not save you $100,000 each and every year. However, hiring a $100,000 engineer will most likely result in millions of dollars of new product. Is it really that difficult to see that???
This whole question about whether quality has gotten worse reminds me of an old saying, sometimes said by engineering to management:
"Short schedule, low cost or high quality. Pick any two, but you can't have all three."