This is the thirteenth in a series of discussions of quality guru W. Edwards Deming's Fourteen Points of Quality and their ramifications for data quality. Here I begin describing Deming's quality point 9, "Break Down Barriers Between Staff Areas," a requirement for enabling sustainable data quality improvement. Next month I conclude the discussion of information quality point 9. How is it that a company could fail when everyone was doing a good job and no one in the organization was having problems? Simple. A new company president found that each business area, while working well, was "sub-optimizing its own work but not working as a team for the company."1 "People can work superbly in their respective departments ... but if their goals are in conflict, they can ruin the company."2
Deming's 9th point of quality states: "Break down barriers between departments. People in research, design, sales and production must work as a team to foresee problems of production and in use that may be encountered with the product or service.3 A fundamental principle of organizational effectiveness is that all parts of the organization work as a team toward organizational goals for customer satisfaction and not for departmental goals that may be counterproductive. The conflicting objectives between the order sales and accounts receivable departments cited in point 7 illustrate the tragedy of sub-optimization. Who was looking after the interests and concerns of the customers?
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