About This Blog

A QualitEvolution is intended to capture positions and experiences as a participant in the evolution of the Quality profession into the 21st century. From its origins as the brainchild of Corporate Industrial Statisticians, our profession has transformed and evolved to incorporate and adapt to the demands and expectations of our modern existence.

The scope of the subject matter within A QualitEvolution extends to the furthest ranges of quality, business transformation, management science, and quality issues especially pertinent to the members of ASQ in Canada.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Quality without Governance = Disaster

I found another example of how an organization's governance undermined its quality discoveries, to the detriment of its customers and society at large.

GM Cobalt Delayed Recall

The link describes a scenario where General Motors recalled its 2005-2007 Chevy Cobalt due to an ignition problem.  The summary is that:
- If the ignition is contacted in a certain way, the engine will shut down.
- If the engine shuts down, the airbags will not deploy.
- If the airbags do not deploy, the safety of the driver and passengers will be compromised.

There were multiple deaths arising from this automotive hazard.

 According to the article, the technical staff successfully recognized and reported the ignition issue.

A GM engineer experienced the problem while test-driving one of the vehicles in 2004 according to deposition transcripts provided to CNNMoney by Cooper. GM's engineers concluded there was a problem with the ignition switch in 2005, the depositions showed.

"Testimony of GM engineers and documents produced in Melton v. General Motors et. al., show that the automaker actually knew about the defective ignition switch in these vehicles in 2004 before it began selling" the 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt,

CBS News has learned GM's recall is coming 10 years after the defect was first discovered and seven years after people began to die.

My point in raising this subject is not to disparage General Motors, but to draw attention to the fact that our Quality profession is fundamentally impotent and powerless unless the organization's governance is willing to make the necessary commitments and decisions to follow through when quality problems are discovered.

In our profession we devote considerable time to the tactical methods and techniques to discover quality outcomes.  However there is inadequate and insufficient attention dedicated to synchronizing the Quality function with the Executive or Senior Management.  For every high profile example, there are likely ten or twenty examples at different levels.  This is a very substantial challenge.


  1. As I understand it, quality is something that must be accepted by everyone in an organization, especially upper level management. As a lower level employee, do you have any suggestions how one could get upper management to focus more on quality?

  2. Depends on where the company is, and whether quality is seen as a necessary evil or a strategic asset. GM upper management is very concerned now because of the Cobalt recall, but Steve Jobs was focused because he bought into the quality mentality and drove it through his organizations.