The hallways of a major insurance company's information systems area are filled with posters that read, "The Bug Stops Here." With the obvious desire to affect systems quality, you would expect they develop and deliver quality applications. Did those posters improve systems and data quality? No. In fact, a major pilot project undertaken to bring in a new era of state-of-the-art application development ended as a complete failure. What was to have been the core business system for policy administration with 90 percent reusable components resulted in only 10 percent of the objects reusable. Deming's quality Point 10 condemns the superficial quality improvement technique of quality by edict, that is, "I say it; you do it." Slogans, posters and exhortations do not result in improved quality. Rather, they "generate frustration and resentment."1 Point 10 reads, "Eliminate slogans, exhortations and targets for the workforce asking for zero defects and new levels of productivity. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships, as the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the system and thus lie beyond the power of the workforce."2

The problem with posters and slogans is that they are addressed to the wrong people. Most of the causes of problems come not from the workers, but from the "system" in which the workers must perform their jobs. "It is totally impossible for anybody or for any group to perform outside a stable system, below or above it. If a system is unstable, anything can happen. Management's job...is to try to stabilize systems. An unstable system is a bad mark against management."3

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