The World’s Most Futile Job

Do you check quality?

Do you have a department of quality controllers checking your every move?

Do they produce reports, data and analysis till it comes out of their ears?

Do you have über checkers, checking the checkers, making sure the check is held true?

Do you?

Here is a request:

Have a look at the last years worth of quality data.

Did anything get any better? Honestly?

If it didn’t then all those QC’s are wasting their time.

They look like a cost saving opportunity.

What are you checking for?

I’m not saying don’t check quality, please please do, you should, but only if you do something about the results.

Now, do you have mystery shoppers….?

Quality ControlRead another opinion

Image by Pierre LaScott


  1. Kev Randle says:

    How do you feel about the argument that Quality Controls can have the same effect as Speed Cameras and provide the C in DMAIC where other controls are not possible?

    Whilst I totally agree with your point on taking action (and there is a link here to listening to your customers and acting up it too) with the QC results, I guess and additional question might be ‘what would be the impact if you removed the QC?’

    • I think the point for me Kev is simply one on taking action, if an organisation knows that it is producing errors and that level of errors is constant then simply continuing to check that they are there is a bit of a futile activity, unless the system is changed the level of errors will remain constant.

      As an aside though your point on speed cameras raises a whole host of other issues:

      1. A mechanical control is often better than a manual one, (speed cameras don’t get tired in my own painful experience) and reling on humans to spot things is not reliable (nice video here that shows the point )

      2. A preventative control is better than a detective one, if the government was serious about us not exceeding 70mph it could ban the sale of Porsches.

      3. Fundamentally it comes down to being clear whether or not an organisation is being serious about the need to remove errors or just paying lip service to it. If an organisation doesn’t think it is really necessary, you end up with a lot of quality controllers and speed cameras in politically sensitive areas. If an organisation is truly committed to customer service then things look very different.

      I guess we would agree on that.

      Thanks for your thoughts


  2. Hi James,
    What about the Observer Effect idea where the observed changes its behaviour due to the fact that it is being observed?


    • James Lawther says:

      Interesting thought Adrian and maybe there is some truth in it, though I think if that is the best an organisation can do to improve customer quality it maybe isn’t an organisation I would want to do business with.

      But then, I am prone to ranting, what do you think?


  3. James, reviewing your reply it seems we agree on pretty much all. Absolutely agree that manual human control have weaknesses and the point around doing something (other than rely on the control element) with what you find in QC.

    Controls are often necessary and, in the absence of a reliable/affordable mechanical one or preventative controls, you can be left to make do with a manual detective controls.

    Adrian – your question is effectively my speed camera point – some people (obviously not I) may be less inclined to speed if there is the potential they could be observed and caught. By taking this away, could it create a free for all?

    Enjoying your site and Twitter updates – if I have a had decent following I would be recommending you more!

Speak Your Mind