Friday, September 21, 2007

The Deming Institute Badly Needed

Don't you hate it when you have a computer problem and the hardware people blame it on the software folks, or vice versa? A similar international game occurred around defective toys made in China for American manufacturers. Mattel ordered three high-profile recalls this summer involving more than 21 million Chinese-made toys, including Barbie doll accessories and toy cars because of concerns about lead paint and tiny magnets that could be swallowed. Yet, it seems they got to the bottom of the problem.

Mattel's executive vice president apologized to Chinese product safety official citing the vast majority of the recalls were for design defects. He also expressed his regret for recalling too many toys suspected of having high concentrations of lead paint.

The Chinese official reminded the toy executive "a large part of your annual profit ... comes from your factories in China." Dr. W. Edwards Deming would frown on the corporate obsession of growing profits at the expense of workers. He believed one reason for having a business is to provide jobs.

Fortunately there is an institute carrying on the leadership guru's fine work. It seems they are needed by both parties in this case. Chinese product safety officials drove in fear with their execution of a drug safety official earlier this year. And Mattel lacked robust product safety procedures regardless of who manufactured their toys. I suggest they both call The Deming Institute for help before anyone else dies, either from playing or trying to do their job.