Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Is 99.9% good enough?

One of the many business trends in the 1990s was "three nines", i.e. businesses should strive for 99.9% accuracy, 99.9% customer satisfaction, 99.9% quality, etc.

But is 99.9% good enough? If so...
  • 268,500 defective tires will be shipped each year.
  • 132,412,800 cans of soft drinks produced in the next 12 months will be flatter than one of the 268,500 defective tires.
  • 2,488,200 books will be shipped with the wrong cover in the next 12 months.
  • 880,000 credit cards in circulation will turn out to have incorrect cardholder information on their magnetic strips.
  • $761,900 will be spent on tapes and CDs that won't play.
  • 114,500 mismatched pairs of shoes will be shipped each year.
  • 22,000 checks will be deducted from the wrong bank accounts in the next 60 minutes.
  • 20,000 incorrect drug prescriptions will be written in the next 12 months.
  • 18,322 pieces of mail will be mishandled in the next hour.
  • 14,208 defective personal computers will be shipped each year.
  • $9,690 will be spent every day on defective, often unsafe sporting equipment.
  • 3,056 copies of tomorrow's Wall Street Journal will be missing one of the three sections.
  • 1,314 phone calls will be misdirected by telecommunication services every minute.
  • 315 entries in Webster's Third New International Dictionary of English Language will be misspelled.
  • 291 pacemaker operations will be performed incorrectly each year.
  • 107 incorrect medical procedures will be performed each day.
  • 55 malfunctioning automatic teller machines will be installed in the next 12 months.
  • 12 babies will be given to the wrong parents each day.
  • Two plane landings daily at O'Hare International Airport will be unsafe.

Suddenly, the quest for zero defects makes a lot of sense. Time for new rules?

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What Would Walt Do?

Check out this 148 page e-book written by D. M. Miller, a project manager during the construction of Walt Disney World from 1968 to 1971. It chronicles the experiences of the young Florida engineer, whose team as responsible for the quality control of all construction materials and methods on the project. In the book, Miller suggests that Walt Disney World may be the highest quality construction project ever built.

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