Managing up

Pilot fish is in charge of production of his company’s computerized call center systems. At the request of the engineers, he listens for about an hour to nearly completed systems, checking for cross-talk between lines, because he seems to have the best ears in the company. Eventually he expands this into an inspection protocol.

Boss asks for a cost-benefit analysis of the inspections. Fish produces a little table showing that most of the failures in the field were systems that never got inspected.  Boss, who has read too many quality books too lightly, declares that the numbers are too small to be statistically significant, and decides to end the inspections. “We’ve built quality in now,” boss explains. To which fish replies, “If there’s been no crime in your area for a year, would you favor closing the police station and ending the patrols?”

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