Quality is the life of industry, especially for healthcare related enterprises. We need to satisfy not only the customer, but also the government. If you want to work for industry, no matter what kind of work you do, you have to put quality in your mind first. Furthermore, if you work for an international company, you have to know how to meet all the quality expectations from different countries.
I have been impressed by IBM, as a world-class company. Their executives have done a great job in educating their employees. I formed this impression from watching a cartoon posted by American Society of Quality years ago, and I would like to share some of their ideas with my own opinions here.
Talking about quality, people from different countries have different opinions or interpretations. In Japan, when talking about quality, you may need to think about the Japanese garden – every stone has to be in the right position, and every leaf has to be in the right shape…Yes, perfection is quality in Japan.
In Germany, when talking about quality, you may need to observe a German child open a toy. Not like other children, who may break the toy before they open the wrapping, German children are trained to read the instructions first, and then open the toy step by step… Yes, following the rules and the process is quality in Germany.
In France, when talking about quality, you may need to experience a French meal – the world-class romantic French meal. It has to be in a very romantic setting, with candles and flowers around and maybe classical music flowing in the air too. The dishes come one by one with perfect visual and sensational satisfaction for you to enjoy, may be with a glass of wine too. It will be impossible for you to finish the meal, or you would not like it to end for at least 2-3 hours…Yes, slow is quality in France.
In the U.S., when talking about quality, 100 people may give you 100 different answers. You may need to imagine Americans eating hamburger while driving a car. Yes, Americans can move their hands and feet at the same time, and operate a 4-wheel drive car!! What’s wrong? We are Americans, we are busy, multi tasking, and we are always running on the road. By the way, who produced a hamburger with the same size and taste all over the world? Can you believe McDonald’s is an American company? It sounds easy to do, but there has been NO other company in the world that could reach that level of standardization and quality control yet!! Especially for food!! Even though there are Chinese restaurants everywhere in the world, and with over 5000 years of history, none of them can have the same taste…Yes, Americans can do whatever they want to do, (even send a man to the moon,) no matter how they define it. A simple process which everybody in the world can follow, maybe IS the quality and the success secret for Americans.
Talking about McDonald’s in China. I remember that when the 1st McDonald’s store opened in the center of Beijing, some good looking business men stood outside the door calling their friends with a big cell phone (we called it “DA GE DA” in Chinese at that time – a word that has already disappeared because cell phones are much smaller now.): “Hi, I am in McDonald’s now, come see me and let’s have dinner here.” That is the same situation as an American telling his friends that he is standing outside of Rockefeller Center in 5th Avenue of NYC…
Although there are now McDonalds on every corner in Beijing, and in most of the cities in China, it is still expensive for most Chinese (because one dollar equals 6-7 Yuan in China), but they are still packed with spoiled kids and mid-income Chinese people all the time. Even now, when I go back to China, my friends tell their kids: “this aunt is from the U.S., let’s go to McDonald’s.” Of course, I have to pay. Yes, China has 1.3 billion people with a similar mass to America. It is reasonable that there are people everywhere in China… By the way, you can also imagine if each Chinese bought only one burger a day, how many burgers McDonald’s would sell!!
Yes, there are some things that happen to us so often that we tend to ignore them. We tend to think our own hardships and difficulties are so big that we ignore the fact we are still having a much better life than the others in the world. Not many people think about Helen Keller when they feel they cannot see any good things around them. Nor do many people think about all the details. For example, everybody paid attention to the rankings of GDP between countries, but nobody paid attention to the actual numbers of the GDP.
“Oh my God, China passed over Japan became the world’s number two country now, the U.S. is under threat”…but, are does anybody notice that from the world number 2 to number 99, the differences between their numbers may look like 0.5 to 1, while from the world number 2 to number 1, the difference is not even 1 to 10, it is something like comparing 1 to 10000!! Huge differences!! It may need 100 years for world number 2 country to catch up with the world number 1 country – which is the U.S., and that assumes the U.S. stops moving forward from now. Though that is unlikely to happen, because Americans are always running hard, moving fast, no matter what…
As a conclusion, QUALITY has different definitions in different countries, around different time frames, with different purposes…but it is really not a word, it is a symbol of business success.