[MD] The need for quality

WES STEWART wesstt at shaw.ca
Sun Sep 10 20:44:54 PDT 2017

Hello Dan, Andrew and X-Acto; 
I have responded to your question towards the end X-Acto. 
Thanks for the response Ardie; 

Yes these are old ideas, concepts that are approaching 90 years, yet they still work for quality. 

I will build a story, that gives you an idea of Deming, and how his philosophy enhances Pirsig, and how Pirsig's philosophy enhances Deming. This is a simple story. 

The story begins with let us say; I am a new quality /safety manager for a company with 500 employees that work outdoors. 
A senior manager comes to me and tells me the workers injury compensation payments are too high. He tells me to do something about lowering injuries. He also adds its costing him on around $3000 dollars per injury, because an employee sits on average 4 days before recovering from their injury. 

I have some statistical data of injuries from the previous 36 months. It appears that ankle injuries are the most frequently occurring injuries. I add up the ankle injuries for the 36 months, I then divide by 36 and come up with a number of 41. So on average this organization has 41 ankle sprain or fractures that occur every month. 

I want to do something because it is a moral thing; lowering that average will also reduce the number of people who suffer pain and injury each month. Would someone say my moral thinking is subjective? A psychopath might. 

At this point I calculate standard deviation of 1, and come up with an upper limit of 47 ankle injuries and a lower limit of 35, I calculate standard deviation of 2 upper limit 53, lower limit of 29. I calculate standard deviation of 3 upper limit of 59 and a lower limit 23. 

Next month I can forecast the ankle injury rate with 99% certainty will fall between 59 and 23. I can also say that 68% of the time it will fall between a standard deviation of 1, from 47 to 35. 

Pirsig would call this a static pattern, Deming would say it is in a state of statistical process control. Pirsig would say it's a system that will not change unless there is "dynamic quality" added to it. Deming would say there has to be some "special cause" variation in order for change to happen, the static pattern he see's is "common cause" variation, it's a normal distribution curve, it is a normal pattern that occurs in nature. 

Let's say I do some research and visit 50 employees out in the field, and startled to find that 48 of them wear low cut running shoes, only two of them were wearing something with good solid ankle support 

I go to several work boot suppliers, ask them for advice and I am impressed with one of them having so much knowledge on what good ankle support is in a workboot. What's average better and best, in both comfort and support, then he shows me the longest lasting, high quality boot with those attributes. 

At a company meeting, I explain my rational and ask upper management to reimburse every employee for boot purchase from that one supplier. I add in that boots are personal protective equipment, and OHS regulations require us to reimburse our employees for this. Maybe there is a large debate, maybe the accountant says, "the guys out in the field are all idiots, they just have to be more careful." Maybe at the end of the meeting the CEO steps in and says "We have not been able to lower that rate in 3 years, in spite of threats of termination and terminations, we have lost lots of our most productive employees." He then agrees to go with my recommendations. 

I have done something to change the system, we wanted to see that average of 41 ankle injuries per month drop, and if we make the next month measurement and find, that it is below 23 (standard deviation of 3) , it may mean something. It may mean that the process of how ankle injuries occurr is no longer a stable process, something has changed in the system. As more people purchase boots we see, it drops to 20 then the following month it goes to 15, thats a trend, because in the past 3 years it never went below 23. Thats improvement in the quality of the working environment for employees out in the field, thats something that is measureable. 

I measure the ankle injury rate for another 36 months, after the changes, and see that the average is now 13 with the Upper control limit is 21 and the lower control limit is now 0, thats real, we can see those numbers. Now that is an improvement in the quality of the working environment of 68%, specific to ankle injuries. 

Maybe the CEO talks with me about those 0 ankle injury months, and tells me upper management has decided that they want them all to be 0 ankle injury months. I try to explain to him about human beings and variation. "Common cause variation in rain, wind, heat, terrain, stress, fatigue, having a baby, and worried about keeping your job all fix those static patterns of quality, from 0 to 21. Even the support of an employees direct manager affect those numbers along with cooperation and teamwork from fellow employees. Threats of firings or lay-off's do not help, after all, who can think clearly when they are agitated, because distractions cause those ankle sprain injuries." 

I tell him to expect the average to remain the same around 13. I tell him the 0-21 variation from month to month is a normal distribution pattern that is seen in nature. I state to him matter of factly, that business men cannot really make demands on nature or science to change. Both safety and quality will always see these normal distribution patterns, and for that reason it will never reach 0 every month. I say to him that I will try to come up with some other ways to improve the quality of the working environment for our employees, but expect it not to move until I come up with some ideas and we implement those changes. 

Maybe the accountant meets me in the hallway moments later and says, " We can have a 0 ankle injury month, and if you cannot do it every month maybe we should hire a quality/ safety manager that can." 

Hello X-Acto, I will keep to Pirsigs or Demings description of a SYSTEM, because both of them talk about corruption, you can review Pirsigs full description in Chapter 8. 
Pirsig is extremely artful in his description because he has a Doctorate in Creative Writing; Deming a physicist, mathematician, and statistician, sometimes outwardly states they are corrupted by their greed. I think that the systems theorists description that you sent me was well thought out of what it should be; but naive as to what happens in real life, a SYSTEM can create the Iraq war and unknowingly produce an ISIS, but was it really an intelligent move? 

Here is some of what Pirsig states in Chapter 8; 

"But to tear down a factory or revolt against a government....because it is a system is to attack effects rather than causes, and as long as the attack is against effects, no change is possible. The true system, the real system is the construction of systemic thought itself, rationality of thought, and if a factory is torn down but the rationality of thought which produced it is left standing, then that rationality will simply produce another factory." 

"If a revolution destroys a systematic government, but the same systematic patterns of thought are left intact, 
then those same patterns will repeat themselves in succeeding governments." From Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig 

In this imaginary story "the real system is the construction of systemic thought itself, rationality of thought" of the capitalist system 
which is based wholly on greed and self interest, which is a part of government just as much as it is part of business. The rationality of the CEO and the accountant in this made up story is the real system, "the construction of systemic thought itself, rationality of thought",is not science its disturbed and biased and will always make poor decisions concerning quality because of self interest, self importance and greed. 

From: "X Acto" <xacto at rocketmail.com> 
To: "moq discuss" <moq_discuss at moqtalk.org> 
Sent: Saturday, September 9, 2017 11:23:21 AM 
Subject: Re: [MD] The need for quality 

Sent from my iPhone 

> On Sep 7, 2017, at 11:35 AM, Andrew Chu <andrew.chu at gmail.com> wrote: 
> From: "WES STEWART" <wesstt at shaw.ca> 
> To: "moq discuss" <moq_discuss at moqtalk.org> 
> Sent: Wednesday, September 6, 2017 10:15:27 PM 
> Subject: Re: [MD] The need for quality 
> Hell Dan and All; 
> I get a lot of my philosophy of quality, not from Pirsig but from William Edwards Deming. It was back in the twenties when Walter Shewhart and Deming were searching for ways to improve the Quality of transmission lines at Bell Labs. They had defined Quality as a SYSTEM that is in a state of continuous improvement. Shewhart and Deming looked at all SYSTEMs then used their intellect or reason to search for ways to improve the SYSTEM. 
> Martin Luther King also used his intellect for ways to improve the SYSTEM, in which he paid the ultimate price that was delivered from Biologically dominated human beings. 
Ron interjects: 
Hello Wes,Dan, All, 
I've been following the thread off and on and I was curious about how Wes defined the term "SYSTEM". 
In system theory it is defined as 
an entity with interrelated and interdependent parts; it is defined by its boundaries and it is more than the sum of its parts (subsystem). 
Positive growth and adaptation of a system depend upon how well the system is adjusted with its environment, and systems often exist to accomplish a common purpose (a work function) that also aids in the maintenance of the system or the operations may result in system failure. 
With the goal being isotelesis. 
the intelligent direction of effort toward the achievement of an end. 

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