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The Welcome Heresies of Quality


A few years after Motorola Inc. became one of the first two winners of the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award, Robert W. Galvin, then CEO of Motorola, wrote this document challenging commonly held assumptions regarding quality. These ideas on the importance of quality are no less relevant today and have carefully guided the work of the Galvin Electricity Initiative.

Old Testament (OT): Quality control is an ordinary responsibility of the quality department.
New Truth (NT): Quality improvement is not just an institutional assignment; it is a daily personal priority and obligation for all.

OT: Training is overhead and costly.
NT: Training does not cost.

OT: New quality programs have high up-front costs.
NT: There is no up-front cost to high-quality “quality programs.”

OT: Better quality costs more.
NT: You cannot raise cost by raising quality.

OT: Keep measurement data to a minimum.
NT: You cannot have too much relevant data.

OT: To err is human.
NT: Perfection is the standard — total customer satisfaction.

OT: Quality defects should be divided into major and minor categories.
NT: There is only one defect category — intolerable! A single standard is essential to unqualified dedication.

OT: Quality improvements come only from small continuous steps.
NT: Partially true — but radical, step-function improvements are essential and doable.

OT: It takes extra time to do things right.
NT: Quality doesn’t take time; it saves time.

OT: Haste makes waste.
NT: (Thoughtful) speed makes quality.

OT: Quality programs best fit products and manufacturing.
NT: Quality’s most crying needs and promises are in administration and services.

OT: At a certain level, the customer no longer cares about better quality.
NT: The customer will differentiate. Incremental improvements drive better pricing, delivery and performance.

OT: Thou shalt not steal.
NT: Thou shalt steal (nonproprietary) ideas shamelessly.

OT: We take care of the company — our suppliers better beat the price.
NT: An essential to being a world-class company is to be a world-class customer.