Congratulations on "The Quality Imperative" (Special Issue, Oct. 25). It deserves recognition as a distinguished public service and establishes a new benchmark for journalistic presentation of this subject.
My "dueling" with W. Edwards Deming consists mainly of editorial effervescence. We have followed different career paths, but they have intersected in the field of managing for quality.
Our area of agreement is much greater than our area of difference. These differences have not disturbed a friendship and mutual respect dating back to World War II.
J. M. Juran
Juran Institute Inc.
BUSINESS WEEK has hit the jackpot! Quality, in its modern conception of an all-encompassing attribute, is obviously the most important subject related to business activity and competitiveness. Robert H. van Ligten Waterford, Mich.
Regarding your assertions about "archrivals" W. Edwards Deming and J. M. Juran, Deming's approach (statistical process control) must be used to solve a variety of complex (and not-so-complex) problems.
Juran's approaches to team-based process improvement and quality planning rely on four pillars, namely: project management, a structured approach to problem-solving, use of simple process-improvement tools (process-mapping, etc.), and an infrastructure designed to support and manage project-by-project improvement. These are not opposing approaches. True, Juran's approach is easier to understand. But- and this is a big but--without the methodology Deming prescribes, many manufacturing problems cannot be corrected or solved. The Deming approach, coupled with project-by-project quality improvement (an element of the Juran approach), is the only way to solve the bulk of chronic quality problems.
Edward E. Emanuel
When I read the names of R. A. Fisher and Walter Shewhart, I realized how well you had done your homework. These people are almost unknown to the present generation, but their books helped lead me through the hurdles of statistical analysis almost 50 years ago.
I was employed in the forest-products industry, and in 1950 I began trying to sell these ideas, particularly those of Shewhart and one of his disciples, Eugene Grant.
At first, I was thinking only of quality control, but later I realized that these ideas could be applied just as well to other areas of management, including control of costs and production rates.
From 1950 until my retirement in 1980, I tried without success to get a hearing. It is sad that such vital concepts have not found better acceptance in the U. S. Maybe your excellent articles will help. I hope so.
Byrne C. Manson
This is a high-quality issue--as usual from BUSINESS WEEK. Manufacturing is doing an excellent job to improve quality, enabling it to approach the standards set by Japan.
American agricultural efficiency is the envy of the world. You only touched on the public sector--but it is terribly inefficient.
We lead the industrial world in the worst statistics: homelessness, prison population, violence, per capita cost of health care and education, energy usage per GNP, etc.
Fifty percent of the voting population doesn't go to the polls, because there is little quality in the cumbersome government sector. Government is like an incurable disease: It only gets worse with age.
Robert L. Tracy
It is interesting to compare "The Quality Imperative" with your recent "Value marketing" message (Cover Story, Nov. 11).
The quality techniques you described so well help businesses add real value for their customers. But promoting better value and adding guarantees, 800 numbers, etc.--in order to influence perceived value artificially--only increases costs.
Which way do you think makes manufacturers more competitive?
Isn't one of Deming's precepts that quality programs must be initiated by policymakers at the top before real improvements can be made by the people operating below?
If so, how are any quality-oriented businesses going to flourish in a nation managed by a government preoccupied with its own provincial politics?
James Van Der Pool
Grace New York