Organizational Liability Assessment and Avoidance

Organizational Liability Assessment and Avoidance
Tom Taormina, CMC, CMQ/OE

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Perfecting Mediocrity

The above is the title of a book manuscript I wrote about two years ago. Having had ten books published, I set out to get number eleven accepted by a reputable publisher. I was told repeatedly, however, that the title and the content were too provocative. My theme was (is) that manufacturing and service companies in this country have systematically abandoned “pride in workmanship” resulting in substandard products and services that are marginally acceptable in quality, mediocre in reliability and increasingly prone to failure in normal use, with often-catastrophic results.

In our preparation as expert witnesses in product liability and organizational negligence law suits, we are repeatedly examining and testifying about once-robust and reputable companies that have allowed entropy to destroy their quality and value systems. (En•tro•py - noun: The inevitable and steady deterioration of a system).

Entropy manifests itself as follows: A company is launched to fill some perceived gap in a market. The principals are determined to make the product or service “better and of higher value” (or some such superlatives) than those currently in the market. They execute per their vision and values and rise to prominence in their industry. Their name becomes synonymous with quality and value. Then the business “changes hands,” either by sale of the company or generational transition from the older to the younger. The new leadership rides the crest of their public reputation while on a mission to drive down costs, increase profits and penetrate new markets.

Many companies that rose to stardom during the second half of the twentieth century have become mostly entropic skeletons of their former majesty. Production of their products and services are now outsourced, off-shored, throw-away hermaphrodites of what was designed and produced by the founders. The vision and values of the founders have been methodically diluted as time and business pressures and loss of focus caused systematic decay. Oftentimes, customer service issues begin to surface signaling an increase in the probability of impending product failures.

The Taormina Group is utilizing the lessons learned from our expert-witness assignments as the basis for making executives aware of the potential liability issues within their organizations. Just as we have used our assessment and diagnosis tools to help improve processes, we are applying ourselves to uncover the warning signs of pending catastrophes that may have become embedded in product and service enterprises. As best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell points out in his books Tipping Point and Outliers, we are often unaware of when symptoms turn into epidemics until it is too late. Gladwell’s research goes on to make the case that well-meaning leaders are prone to misdiagnosing the problems and then trying to fix the wrong root causes. He also points out that those attempting to communicate the message of impending disaster are often ignored. We are studying Paul Revere’s success strategy in communicating to the leaders of the day that the British invasion was eminent, in hopes of stemming the epidemic of product liability.

The cumulative entropy of quality assurance disciplines set the stage for perfected mediocrity to reach a critical mass and explode into an epidemic of a country producing the equivalent of “Japanese Junk” as seen in the early 1950’s. Currently however, rather than defective products simply being thrown away, we have cadres of attorneys ready to sue your company into non-existence.

A Forensic Business Pathology® assessment will uncover the symptoms of entropy and provide a blueprint for production processes capable of producing defect free products. The end result is that the consumer will be product failure protected and your company will be made liability suit-proof.

Tom Taormina, CMQ/OE, CMC
The Taormina Group, Inc.