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Quality Quiz:Professor Cleary
Another quiz from Professor Cleary

Out of the Box, a major customer of Thick ‘N Thin Corrugated Paper Company, where Cliff Clymer is quality manager, has insisted that the company’s deadline is met for producing  the 6” cardboard boxes it needs. Knowing that he must produce the needed order, Cliff complains to his boss, Sue Veneer, that some of the equipment required to fill the order is in need of maintenance, and if the service adjustments are not made, the boxes may not meet the customer’s exacting size requirements. Servicing the equipment, however, would mean that the deadline for production of Thick ‘N Thin’s materials cannot be met.

Sue, whose daughter is getting married, has been distracted by wedding plans, and has forgotten to arrange for service on the equipment. Instead of admitting this, however, she blames Cliff for not being able to fulfill the customer’s expectations, and transfers him to the Finance Department.

In his new, lower-paying role, Cliff’s job requires monitoring the daily cost of production on the line that produces the very boxes that had been his concern.  While he is disappointed that his salary has decreased, since he cannot buy the new Saab that his wife wanted, Cliff becomes deeply interested in the data relating to the production process. On the second day that he has collected data, he notices that the costs have gone up dramatically for one of the company’s products. Wanting to recover his former reputation, if not his former salary, Cliff immediately shuts down the equipment that produces this product and reports the situation to Sue Veneer.

Which of the following is true?

a) Sue should immediately reward him by restoring his former position and salary, since he has stopped a disastrous run of errors.

b) The company should consider firing Cliff, since it is clear that he does not understand the kind of variability that does not signal a change in the system, but only a natural variation in a process. The Saab will have to wait.

 

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