Clarity Management Consulting

Posts Tagged ‘manufacturing’

J&J Recall: A Lapse In Vigilance In a Process-driven Culture

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

Johnson & Johnson consumers complained about berry-flavored Pepcid being mingled with mint-flavored tablets. These complaints should have been the early warning system that would have uncovered failures and trends in managing/controlling the manufacturing process.

This means that process discipline broke down in at least two areas that haven’t been the focal point of our attention:

(1) The method for handling complaints failed. If handled properly, customer complaints could have served as a gold mine for data on where things were going wrong.

(2) The manufacturing system failed. Processes were either broken, not followed, or not maintained.

In both cases, processes are the key. J&J will need to reevaluate its culture to understand how it evolved to the point of allowing vigilance in process management to fall off. This is reminiscent of the theme that surfaced in the Toyota recalls.

A key lesson from the Toyota and J&J stories is this: companies have to manage the basics. Neglecting them is not an option. The cultural attributes that enabled success must be maintained and nurtured. Both of these companies have a reputation for keeping an eye on their processes. They know that processes do not manage themselves. It will take a lot of digging to find the root of the underlying cultural shift that created these issues.

Quality Still Reigns

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

Quality of products and services remains a major concern among retail and business customers, particularly in the current economic environment. This includes initial quality as well as quality of after-sale customer service. It is critical to ensuring customer retention in an environment where competitive threats proliferate, seemingly at the speed of light.

As the American Society for Quality (ASQ) noted in its Future of Quality Study, perfect quality is not the outcome of chance. In the same way that a company deliberately plans for manufacturing circuit boards, managing call centers, or conducting financial operations, it must deliberately plan for managing quality. Companies must continually improve rather than thinking that they have arrived. The Toyota and Johnson & Johnson recalls have taught us that leaders must manage quality with relentless attention to detail.

This vigilance must be ongoing and must permeate the entire organization. Leaders need to address quality at each step of the process. Engineering must create designs that will result in fewer failures. Materials management must insist on standards of purity for raw materials. Purchasing must select suppliers that have stellar quality programs and performance, and then they must hold these suppliers accountable.

The companies that master the skills of pinpointing and addressing quality issues in each phase of product/service delivery will rise to the top and be able to compete in the years to come.