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HindustanTimes Sun,28 Dec 2014

Prevent defects to survive

T V Sriram (Press Trust of India), PTI   March 03, 2003
First Published: 10:45 IST(27/2/2003) | Last Updated: 12:02 IST(3/3/2003)

Companies including those from India struggling to survive the current global downturn have been exhorted to adopt methods that eliminate defects rather than rely on high-cost inspection, says a new book.

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A company will derive the maximum benefit when all employees practise the concept of prevention and to ensure this, a company should have promoters and facilitators, says the book High Quality at Economical Cost.

The current dismal scenario throws up a raft of questions and the corporations must quickly find the right answers to them or sink into oblivion, argues the book.

With seller's market giving way to a buyer's market, local companies are beginning to feel the heat of global competition and customers are demanding products of high quality at lower cost, says its author Kailash N Anand.

He says industries in India and many in other developing countries, have either not addressed or only partially addressed the new demands. The organizational set-up for promoting quality has remained thus static in many Indian industries.

Even though the nameplates of departments have been changed from inspection to quality control (QC), quality assurance (QA) or quality engineering (QE), what continues is only inspection activity based on the old thinking that inspection is QCv, the book says.

The QC departments have to take the lead in adopting the new philosophy, it says adding prevention activity such as quality planning, QC and quality improvement must find a place in the organizational structure of quality control departments though this structure could vary from industry to industry.

The only way to survive and prosper is by adopting methods that eliminate defects, which help reduce cost and improve quality and on the other hand reliance on inspection increases costs and does not improve quality, the book says.

The time has come to shift the focus from find and fix to prevention of defects and a company will derive the maximum benefit when all employees practice the concept of prevention, says the book.

It is a tough walk---but it is not impossible. Industry will have to devise stratagems to find that rich amalgam of quality and cost, hone employee skills and find the right leadership that will make it possible for them to beat back competition at the marketplacev, says the book.

The author also lays stress on motivation of employees for the smooth functioning and high profitability of the company. 

The book says sometimes managements thrust quality improvement, cost reduction, productivity improvement and waste elimination programmes on employees/managers before creating a proper environment and get a lukewarm support from the employees.

This is practiced even today in many companies and the solution to this problem is to switch over to the participative style of management, it says.

Many industries have already adopted the participative style of management and several others are in the process of switching over, the book says, adding there idea flow from the top to the bottom and also from the bottom to the top before they are crystallized.

The Japanese call it catch ball and this provides sufficient opportunities to all levels to participate and contribute to the organisation's growth.

The book also highlights the debilitating effects of fear created in the minds of the people of being sacked for poor performance and says one could not expect people to be loyal to the organization where their stay is insecure and the hire and fire policy is practiced.

They lose interest in work and to expect them to put their best remains only a wishful thinking, it says. 

It says this decision was taken by a person who had recently taken over the company on the advice of a management consultant.

Such instances are not rare in the industry and they remind the others that their jobs are not permanent and they may be asked to leave any time

The decision on downsizing a company is usually taken as the first measure to come out of a crisis it says adding the expected return from such a measure can be easily seen.

Among the various options, downsizing is found easy to implement but this creates an environment ridden with fear, it says adding a fearless environment has to be created.

It says fear will disappear as the management improves and as people develop confidence in it. 

The Japanese industry normally practices and advocates lifetime employment under which the employees develop loyalty to the organization and do not worry about their daily requirements of bread and butter. For them motivation becomes an easy task.

(About the Book: High Quality at Economical Cost by Kailash N. Anand. Published by Response Books, Price Rs. 950; PP 538)


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