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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