Steven Reive’s article about the impact an American statistics professor had on the auto industries is a significant story. (Lethbridge Herald, June 12, page C4) W. Edward Deming of New York University built “a paradigm during the 1930’s and a set of 14 principles” of management and quality control. American automakers did not understand him but Japanese Auto industries enthusiastically applied his ideas thus helping them to reach the supremacy in the sector. When Americans realized it, it was too late. It shows the wisdom of primarily seeking superior quality rather than cost efficiency.
I had a friend, a Quebec dairy farmer, who always drove a Cadillac. His philosophy is: Good quality is most economical in a long term. A Swedish friend tells me of the quality of Saab and Volvo, “We buy a car like we buy a house.” German and Swiss are also sticklers of quality. It’s not only Japanese who say quality matters.
Ryotaro Shiba, a well known author of historical novels, says, “Japan is the country that values craftsmanship more than others.” Master craftsmen are revered and remembered just like war heros, wise monarchs; even like saints. One sword smith, by the name of Goro Masamune is called with a tile “Saint” not because of his religiosity but because of quaulity. It is like a blacksmith who forged Excalibur was sainted.
Japan has a category of a state funded national heritage program called “Living National Treasure”: they are masters in various crafts like pottery, carpentry, weaving, etc. They receive generous life time stipends from the government to concentrate in creating crafts free of pressure to sell. Though Japan adopted Confucianism as basic values of ethics, disdain of craftsmen is one it chose to ignore, says Shiba. In Confucianism, a craftsman belongs to the lowest caste.
I once sat next to a Calgary roofer on a flight to Japan. He went to Japan often to learn to perfect his skills in trade. He says, a Canadian roofer goes through months of apprenticeship before he gets a journeyman’s ticket. But in Japan it takes eight years.
An environmentalist will choose good quality over low price, because usually more fossils is burnt in manufacturing a machine than it takes to run it. It is certainly is the case of automobile. A quality product lasts longer therefore it costs less in the end; produces less waste.