One of the most important lessons we've learned from the quality assurrance revolution that has been taking place in manufacturing over the last ten years or so is the value of having good rules about quality procedures and following these rules conscientiously. Adopting ISO 9000 standards has certainly established these concepts as a way of life on the plant floor.
The results have been very gratifying. For many companies, product quality has soared. Costs are down. Scrap rates are lower. Morale is up. When you look at what's happening in these quality turnarounds, the link between following the rules and getting results is rather clear.
Having good rules to follow so that good results can be obtained doesn't just apply in the factory. It's the reason for having good rules to follow in every aspect of life. Rules are tools. They help us with the work of living.
The connection between following rules and getting desired results is not always so clear. Sure, we understand that in order to have a good game of football orbaseball, the teams, coaches, and referees have to know and follow the rules. No rules, no fun. But when we learned our manners at home as children, how often did we see the connection between following these rules and making our company pleasing and desirable to family and friends? It was hard to understand how these rules would help us handle the situations that social intercourse would create for us every day of our lives.
Rules with the force of the community behind them become embodied as laws. Obeying them preserves an orderly society. Laws are tools that help us protect human rights, so enforcement of law is a natural and rightful priority of a democratic government. Peace, justice and freedom are the results obtained by fair laws equitably administered.
The best sets of rules are simple, a few dos and don'ts. By this criteria, the finest examples are surely the Ten Commandments. They are comprehensive yet concise. Every virtue and every vice is covered. The connection between following these rules and getting desirable results is compelling. These rules summarize what to do in life to be happy and what not to do in life to avoid being unhappy. Happiness, after all, is the best test for judging quality of life.
When it comes to achieving quality in our shops and factories, we've learned to live by the rules. And that is the secret to quality everywhere else.