Friday, August 24, 2007

China Drives in Fear to Reduce Product Quality

Chinese officials announced several strategies to address their quality problems including a "war on tainted products". That involves identifying the enemy and taking them out. Here's a better idea China, don't build tainted products to begin with!

In addition to the war, Chinese officials are "embracing time tested campaign tactics to clean up the country's battered image." It will focus on the problem product areas to date, toothpaste, pet food, tires, seafood, and children's toys. Walmart a huge American purchaser of Chinese products announced it would ask suppliers to resubmit testing documentation for the toys it sells. If the initial inspection was flawed, how will resubmission make a difference?

Do you recall the other act China took to address its quality problems? It executed a top government official responsible for their drug industry. The mix thus far includes war, execution, and local officials focused more on economic growth targets than quality.

Given Dr. Deming's teachings on quality, utilized in Japan for over a half century, the Chinese efforts will not address the problem. Missing, profound knowledge! Poor management theory and practices will not solve the major problems China faces. The economic Red Storm is increasing fear, a known barrier to producing quality products and services.

And heavens knows, "campaign tactics" are not the answer. The Chinese Vice Premier blamed lax inspection and enforcement and failure of officials in rival agencies to cooperate. She vowed to whip them into line with a list of eight tasks and 20 specific goals. Cranking up inspection may catch more of the bad products heading out the door, but leaders need methods and resources to help their employees make good products. Cease dependence on inspection.

Executions, whippings? I guarantee the Vice Premier will get President Bush like treatment. No information contrary to her goals will make it to her desk. That doesn't mean the information is accurate. People know to deliver to the boss what they want in order to save their hides, literally. Drive out fear!

The U.S. government and China share a fatally flawed management style, top down, heavy handed, outcome obsessed, fear spreading and distorted by financial bribing or corruption. Neither will get better until their underlying management theory changes. There's hope, but it requires an openness to learning apparently missing at the top levels of government in both countries.