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Quality assurance Case Study


Quality assurance in professional qualifications could certainly be improved by developing assessment criteria and verification procedures, but the training and networking of a community of assessors is also important. In reality, most new quality department heads do not have a year to learn what is necessary, and, if they did, would not have access to the requisite educational resources. As a result, they focus on one or two aspects of quality improvement and hope that the rest will come (Avery & Zabel, 1996). In the meantime, they have to hurry and get something started. Time is short. Other division heads or staff unit directors do not wait for the new quality head to take the lead. Instead, they do their own reading and have organizing their own individualized efforts. The head of quality should be in charge of selecting the most desirable elements from various approaches to quality improvement processes (QIP) and then integrating and implementing them, first seeking the input from others on all levels that will be affected by these decisions. Once the customized package is defined, the CEO should mandate that this approach win be adopted company-wide and that any adjustments to it must first be approved by both the head of quality and the CEO (Roth Jr, 1992). Quality is an important concern for a firm. A company who wants to find success in their industry needs to make sure that quality assurance would be one of their priorities. All firms would do anything in their power to make sure that the quality of their products would exceed the quality of competitor’s products. This paper takes a look at the case of Hank Kolb and his problem on quality. This paper will solve two questions about the case.  This paper will make use of the fishborn diagram to respond to the first question.

Question 1

In the case of Hank Kolb, the Greasex cans were pressurized above acceptable levels.  The fishborn diagram would be used in determining the problem on the Greasex line. The fishbone diagram depicts all possible causes contributing to a problem, or can be used as shown in the illustration to depict all factors relating to a problem or concept. The shape of the diagram resembles that of a fishbone structure hence its name. To draw the diagram one first places the problem under consideration at the head end. All possible causes of the problem or principal features of the concept are inserted at the end of the bones and at 45 degrees to the backbone. Further breakdowns of the causes or features are listed on additional branches running off those already inserted at 45 degrees to the backbone (Harbison & McGraw, 1997).  The fishbone diagram encourages one to look at every aspect of a problem or a topic of interest and to highlight the various relationships along with the relative importance of its various parts. It also helps to establish a logical sequence for handling various parts of a problem in a systematic way and enables one to visualize the parts within the whole. The Fishbone diagram is a sophisticated tool, in which the most pressing problem is shown as the backbone of the skeleton of a fish, with time represented by its length, progressing from left to right. Other key problems are represented as ribs in places that represent the order in which they need attention (Kirton, 2003).


 Alternatively, using a static version, the contributory problems can be grouped around the spine by class such as problems relating primarily to people, machinery, materials, etc. The basic technique is first to accumulate the array of variables derived from known incidents and then to order them. The fishbone diagram is particularly useful in domains in which the decision maker might have to consider several hypotheses and conduct several tests to identify the problem. When creating these diagrams, analysts should represent the more common hypotheses near the head of the diagram, and uncommon or frequently selected hypotheses near the tail (Swamidass, 2002). The diagram assumes a linear, cause-effect chain of events. Such an understanding of any problem is limited in that it does not address the potential for interrelationships between causes, or the possibility of dynamic or time-related effects. For example, the interrelationship between workers and machines, called ergonomics, can have a substantial impact on the ability to produce a quality product or service, whereas looking at either in isolation may produce no clue as to the cause of any lack of quality. A successful cure to any problem may mean making adjustments or changes in a number of places both to fix the specific problem and to ensure that the whole system remains in balance. Often, changing only one aspect can push other aspects to a point where they may fail. Ishikawa’s world-wide reputation and the widespread acceptance of his ideas suggest that his approach has met with considerable success. That he is best known for the fishbone diagram should not inhibit appreciation of the value of his other work (Proctor 1999).


Similarly, that quality circles have been successful cannot be doubted, notwithstanding the level of failure that has been seen in some organizations.  Ishikawa's diagram has strengths that include emphasis on participation; variety of quantitative and qualitative methods employed; its whole-system view; the relevance of quality control circles or QCC to all sectors of the economy. The weakness of the diagram includes the notion that such diagrams are systematic but not systemic; QCCs depend upon management support; and it fails to address coercive contexts. The participation and the development of tools usable by the stakeholders are of undeniable value. They enable people at all levels in the organization to make a meaningful contribution, in their own terms, to the process of achieving quality. Promoting creativity and increasing motivation have value for both the organization and the individual. The choice of a mixture of methods and tools which are both qualitative and quantitative encourages a broader understanding of the organization than would be achieved with a simple focus on either a single tool, or a purely qualitative or quantitative approach. The holistic perspective proposed is again supported by the current view that a systemic approach is vital in the contemporary organizational context (Locke, 1996). While agreeing that QCCs are relevant to all economic sectors, there remain considerable reservations as to their practical value. It is rare to discover an organization where more than lip-service is paid to the QCC movement. It is very often used as a device for allowing workers to feel that they are involved but with little real commitment from managers (Locke, 1996).


Turning to the weaknesses, the causal chain or linear view of problems proposed by the fishbone diagram is limited in its use. It would perhaps be better to recognize that problems are often interacting and far more complex than the fishbone approach will reveal. The second weakness is the failure faced when management is not prepared to listen to the ideas emerging from quality circles, an aspect which has already been covered. In this case, the organization is probably facing the third weakness, which the approach struggles in a political or coercive context. The view that any human system is to some extent political and/or coercive has already been espoused, and a particular tendency currently prevalent is that of seeking someone to blame. In such a culture, genuine commitment and participation in the quality issue is unlikely to emerge since it implies acceptance of responsibility for both successes and failures. In a blame culture, wholehearted participation will not easily occur since failure is met with some form of disciplinary action or punishment rather than being treated as an opportunity to learn (Tsutsui, 1998).   The next figure shows the use and application of Fishbone in the case of Hank Kolb.
















Question 2

There is an increasing understanding that quality improvement efforts must be driven by the organization's need to achieve maximum results with limited resources. Many organizations express their support of and desire for quality through posters, memos, and recognition programs. However, merely philosophizing about the importance of strategy or publishing statements of management's support of the notion isn't enough (Arogyaswamy & Simmons, 1993). What is required is a business process to aid organizations in focusing their total quality efforts on issues that most directly support strategy. This business process is known as the quality / strategy connection. By focusing on the quality / strategy connection, an organization can make significant progress toward the overall goal of increasing customer satisfaction. As such, the quality / strategy connection business process should be approached as one to be measured and improved. Business process improvement disciplines should be employed to ensure that quality efforts, and in fact all efforts, are consistent with and supportive of the organization's strategy. They should also be employed to ensure that strategy is consistent with and supportive of consumer needs and demands. The competition-based definition of quality defines quality as a relative thing (Friesen & Johnson, 1995).


If an organization's view toward quality focuses on zero defects, the quality of its product is determined by comparing it to the quality of its competitor's product. If the lowest defect rate for all manufacturers of a given product is seventy-five per million, and the organization's product defect rate is fifty per million, that product represents the highest-quality product in the marketplace. Once manufacturers were able to face the problem of a deep-seated complacency and admit that they had rested on their laurels for too long, they realized it was time to go back to the drawing board. The first task was to redefine what they thought was quality. They had to take their products and stack them against those of the competition. They needed to determine objectively what it was that made competitors products sell and what it was that left their products to gather dust on retail shelves. One way this was accomplished was to recognize the importance of market research (Kleiner, 2006). Customer complaints and comments provided manufacturers with feedback needed to make critical strategic decisions regarding new product development. Questions like whether or not to keep a current product line going could be more accurately answering using information gathered from these sources. If the overwhelming customer response was negative, there was obviously no reason to throw good money after bad. On the other hand, if customers consistently indicated a need for a new modification to a particular product, it might be an indication of the need for diversity of a particular product line. For the first time, these manufacturers learned from the example of some corporations that profitability and quality were inextricably linked. If quality were continuously improved, profitability might also increase as well (Blackburn & North1998).


When all individuals in an organization are able to understand the mission of the organization then they will be able to appreciate the need to work together as a team. Working more effectively as a team often had a direct payoff in quality efforts. If top management can effectively determine the strategic direction necessary to accomplish the goals of the organization and put in place the network necessary to disseminate the information and help drive the process, then quality improvements can begin (Eraut, 1994). There is a need to adopt quality as a business strategy whereby workers would enjoy the working environment and be proud of the resulting products or services. Part of achieving this result is encouraging and managing the participation of these workers in their day-to-day jobs. This is also in contrast to a prevailing notion that quality efforts and business decisions can be separate and unique. For example, a change in direction should be accompanied with a change in focus on quality efforts. Implementing a quality program in any organization does not mean the result will be lower productivity and higher costs. This belief stems from the mistaken notion that management will try to inspect in quality rather than improve systems or processes (Delener, 1999). In setting up a CI program for the company to maintain product quality Hank should explain the need for quality products to all those involved in manufacturing and production. He needs to explain the importance of quality. Hank should ask for better equipment that would only for the production of Greasex cans. Hank should make sure that there would be schedules for preventative maintenance of the equipment.  Hank should make sure that all who did not do their responsibility will be punished.  He should make sure that the employees would understand the importance of doing their responsibility and make sure that their product would be of high standard. To make it work Hank will have to face the financial and personnel problems. Hank would need to make sure that the firm will have enough finances to purchase newer equipment. Hank would also need to make sure that the employees would comply with the changes, resistance might occur from those who believe that the current system is enough.


In the case of Hank Kolb, the Greasex cans were pressurized above acceptable levels.  The fishborn diagram was in determining the problem on the Greasex line. The problem can be solved by setting up a CIT program. In setting up a CI program for the company Hank should explain the need for quality products to all those involved in manufacturing and production. Hank should ask for better equipment that would only for the production of Greasex cans.  Hank should make sure that all who did not do their responsibility will be punished.  To make it work Hank will have to face the financial and personnel problems.



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