Testing and or Inpsection does it really work?

Bird Droppings December 1, 2009
Testing and or Inspection does it really work?

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” Bill Gates

Reading this note from Bill Gates founder of Microsoft you may at first glance consider or maybe even just wonder has Bill Gates lost his marbles. However if you look deeper into what he is saying, if a company has no unhappy customers they are doing everything right.

“Quality is meeting or exceeding the expectations of your customers” Phillip Crosby

If we expand that concept of a customer base further to all people who we come in contact with daily, then that idea of a source of learning is magnified many times over. If we now also have that group of everyone having even very limited expectations of us we very quickly become either good or evil depending on how we are viewed by the world.

“Learning is not compulsory …. Neither is survival.” W. Edwards Deming

W. Edwards Deming was one of the greatest industry management consultants and thinkers of the Twentieth century he provided insight that Japanese industrialists built empires on after World War II. He revolutionized industry in Japan and almost single handedly changed the image of made in Japan from a joke to now even in our advertising the highest quality products. Deming summarized in fourteen points which I have included this morning because there are some good thoughts whether you are in industry, teaching and or simply a parent.

The 14 points for management in industry, education and government
1. Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service, with the aim to become competitive and to stay in business, and to provide jobs.
2. Adopt the new philosophy. We are in a new economic age. Western management must awaken to the challenge, must learn their responsibilities, and take on leadership for change.
3. Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality. Eliminate the need for inspection on a mass basis by building quality into the product in the first place.
4. End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price tag. Instead, minimize total cost. Move toward a single supplier for any one item, on a long-term relationship of loyalty and trust.
5. Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service, to improve quality and productivity, and thus constantly decrease costs.
6. Institute training on the job.
7. Institute leadership. The aim of supervision should be to help people and machines and gadgets to do a better job. Supervision of management is in need of overhaul, as well as supervision of production workers.
8. Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company.
9. Break down barriers between departments. People in research, design, sales, and production must work as a team, to foresee problems of production and in use that may be encountered with the product or service.
10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the work force asking for zero defects and new levels of productivity. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships, as the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the system and thus lie beyond the power of the work force.
• Eliminate work standards (quotas) on the factory floor. Substitute leadership.
• Eliminate management by objective. Eliminate management by numbers, numerical goals. Substitute leadership.
11. Remove barriers that rob the hourly worker of his right to pride of workmanship. The responsibility of supervisors must be changed from sheer numbers to quality.
12. Remove barriers that rob people in management and in engineering of their right to pride of workmanship. This means, inter alia, abolishment of the annual or merit rating and of management by objective.
13. Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement.
14. Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everybody’s job.
Reference: http://www.deming.org/ – The W. Edwards Deming’s Institute
It was most interesting as I looked through the list at possible applications for myself in teaching. For example point three, “Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality. Eliminate the need for inspection on a mass basis by building quality into the product in the first place.” Not only did Deming see this as a problem, looking at education Senator Paul Wellstone stated the following.
“Making students accountable for test scores works well on a bumper sticker and it allows many politicians to look good by saying they will not tolerate failure. But it is a hollow promise. Far from improving education, high stakes testing marks a major retreat from fairness, from accuracy, from quality, and from equity.”
This was being seen in industry as an issue by Deming many years ago. If an inspector has to check for errors and or faulty pieces of an item, what was found in research done on inspectors was the number of pieces faulty was in direct correlation to total number of pieces so in effect inspectors knew they had to find x number of pieces that is how many they found. By assumption then this means some faulty pieces went through the line even with inspection. Deming is saying build a quality piece first so there will be no faulty pieces. Applying that principle to education, teach appropriately and you will not have to test.
”A plague has been sweeping through American schools, wiping out the most innovative instruction and beating down some of the best teachers and administrators. Ironically, that plague has been unleashed in the name of improving schools. Invoking such terms as “tougher standards,” “accountability,” and “raising the bar,” people with little understanding of how children learn have imposed a heavy-handed, top-down, test-driven version of school reform that is lowering the quality of education in this country.” Alfie Kohn –
Sitting here on my first day back after a great holiday break we will be going into intensive testing in our high school next week. Georgia now has mandated End of Course tests in specific subject areas. When you add to that Georgia Graduation Tests you could say there is not much pressure on eleventh graders taking End of Course Tests and graduation tests all in one year. Effectively in Georgia if you don’t pass these tests you do not walk across the stage at graduation and or receive a diploma. I have found that the rumor this is being tattooed on students in lower grades is false. In industry, in politics, and even at home we so often use this mentality to accomplish things with our children, employees and even friends. As I look at Bill Gates quote again and think of students taking standardized tests you would think someone would have caught on somewhere. Maybe we need to get tested and maybe politicians should take a competency test before taking office. Please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts and look over Deming’s fourteen points there are some good ideas.


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