Mass production, she wrote, had rendered the devices and luxuries of the good life — furniture, watches, clothes, toys — more plentiful than ever.
But these products were not as durable, as reliable, or as pleasing as their handmade preindustrial counterparts. Society was filling up with junk, and it was up to all of us to rescue it, she declared. Incorporating in-depth statistical production analysis and some pioneering approaches to participative management, TQM later spun off a host of popular management concepts, including Six Sigma. Maestros of quality-oriented management such as W. Edwards Deming and Joseph Juran demonstrated to American business audiences that they could bring the spirit of elite craftsmanship into mass production without adding cost.
Quality improvement might have required up-front investment, but it ultimately reduced costs by cutting waste and eliminating rework and repairs. By the early s, after a decade of quality practice, there was an almost utopian sense in the air that consumer goods, from toaster ovens to high-tech computer devices, would never stop improving, and the quality of life would get better and better.
Those were the days.
For the past few years, it has appeared that U. Kitchen appliances, power tools, cell phones, computer printers, DVD players, toys, and many other consumer goods are increasingly conceived and sold as disposable commodities. Although these products have more features and capabilities every year, their durability and longevity are rapidly dwindling. As in the s, this strategy poses serious dangers — from the erosion of well-established brands to the ultimate financial failure of companies. But it may be harder now to reverse the tide, because several trends in manufacturing and marketing subtly reinforce one another.
Instead of facing competition from high-quality Japanese manufacturers, companies in industrialized countries face tough competition from low-wage countries and high price-cutting pressure from global retailers. Even when producers do promote quality, far fewer consumers seem to care. In this environment, many firms now seem to perceive the production of shoddy products as an effective bottom-line strategy. Anecdotes and Evidence Has product quality really declined that much since the early s?
Admittedly, much of the evidence is anecdotal. But its sources are diverse: repair shop technicians, weblog gripes, current and former TQM consultants, and myriad acquaintances with stories of annoyance.
Lamp housings crack; videocassette recorders rewind slowly and haltingly; cell phone batteries fall out; shirt buttons crumble; washing machines falter; televisions render flesh tones in rainbow hues. Overall automobile performance is better, but many vehicle components are still maddeningly fragile. It typically requires a repair shop visit to diagnose and shut off the light. But then, a day or two after the ostensible repair, the light reactivates itself, like a movie monster that cannot be killed.
Our European-make family auto was thus afflicted, and after bringing it in four times to my local dealer, I finally exploded in frustration. Overall, ACSI ratings of manufactured goods have basically held steady over time, but exceptional companies notably Dell and Apple, with satisfaction increases of 9. Other big-name companies show deterioration, including companies that have invested millions of dollars in associating their brands with reliability and quality: Hewlett-Packard is down 9 percent in customer satisfaction since , and several appliance manufacturers are down more than 4.
Even Six Sigma mainstay GE is down 2. Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports , has kept track of product reliability through its consumer surveys of repair data.
How-To Yoga Videos. This paper views premature death as a tragic "natural experiment," outlining a methodology identifying the "citation death tax" -- the impact of death of productive economists on the patterns of their citations. Nature perpetuates the species. Even inanimate objects undergo mutation over time. And we can use our practice to strengthen our conviction to live in the present moment. All life forms, whichever kingdom they belong to — vegetable, animal or human — are destined to die.
It also tracks the frequency of product recalls, which have risen steadily since Here, the trends are suggestive but inconclusive. Senior Editor Tod Marks, whose beat at Consumer Reports includes repair and reliability, notes that quality in many product categories is better overall than it used to be. When was the last time you experienced a tire blowout or a picture tube failure? Still, many product manufacturers have lowered engineering standards to shave their costs. Marks says. The most solid empirical evidence on product quality involves warranty statistics, such as the number of units returned each year to retailers and hence to manufacturers for repair or replacement under warranty.
But the Financial Accounting Standards Board began requiring manufacturers to disclose this information only in early , and there has never been any systematic analysis of warranty costs as a percentage of revenues.
However, three veteran quality consultants told me that the number of warranty returns they see, particularly in the computer and electronics industries, is rising. In the end, only one conclusion seems to fit: In every product category, a few good brands continue to improve their durability and reliability. The good get better, and the rest get worse. Unplanned Obsolescence A consumer advocate might argue as many did back in the s that the culprit is planned obsolescence. Companies deliberately design shabby products so customers will keep replacing them with new ones.
But reality is not so simple. Consumers themselves tolerate irritating product failures and flaws far more than they used to, even when they have more channels such as the Internet through which to voice complaints. There are other contributing factors. TQM has lost its cachet inside many companies. Since Dr. Deming died in , the number of faculty teaching quality in business schools has dwindled, and so has student interest. Retailers are also culpable because of their increasingly aggressive price bargaining.
And new retail devices, like the extended warranty, also play a role. The extended warranty first emerged in the s as a high-priced form of product insurance that allowed corporations to hedge their warranty protection costs.
The typical extended warranty, which is a contract many retailers try to bundle with a product purchase, provides consumers with an extra year or two of either replacement or repairs. Gradually, the extended warranty has become a way of life for U. But these warranties are popular nonetheless, presumably because of the sense of security they provide to customers. This is not quite the case. Reincarnation as it is generally understood is a caricature of what actually happens.
Subsequent projections of Being may have little to nothing common in essence with earlier projections, so it is incorrect to say that a personality reincarnates.
The Product Death Cycle All of this was on my mind when I saw a great tweet from about a year ago, on the Product Death Cycle, when things go wrong. To survivors, the thought that they came so close to death is traumatic. Ever since life originated, the cycle of birth and death has continued.
It is however correct to say that attributes and tendencies that once formed a personality may find future expression in a different mix of personalities. But the consciousness pattern of one personality need not and usually does not continue as such in another. In this sense, there is no reincarnation.
However the term is a useful abstraction in discussions, provided there is a proper framework of understanding of the background. In the next section we will discuss the apparent loss of memory and its main purpose when Being projects personalities into matter. The God Principle Search this site. Home Author Bookstores Credits.
The Prime Directive. The Principle of Refection. The Nature of Duality. Space and Time. Forces of Selection. Unity and Separation. What is Man? Human Purpose. Birth Death Cycle. Loss of Memory. Necessity of Striving. Sexual Division. The Body. Mystical Symbols. Tao, Book Of The Earth. The Great Pentacle. Degrees of Karma. Esoteric Astrology. Climate Change. Yin-Yang of Politics. Links The God Principle.
In debt to Hilarion for outlining the foundations of the Principle of Reflection. A good portion of the work found on this website is derived from principles and foundations that he discussed, and the reader may find content reflective of those prior works.