Krazy Kwality Posters

I really dislike motivational posters, particularly those meant to inspire quality. I guess it comes from the early Deming training/indoctrination and having been around too many environments where Quality meant a poster that said “Quality is YOUR Responsibility.” Posters are harmful when the point fingers at workers who don’t have total control of a situation (such as those faced with using cheap parts bought by procurement) or when the posters send a different message (quality is important) than what non-lean management emphasizes (keep moving the metal and shut up).

The only posters that have value to me are the cynical “Demotivators” line from Despair Inc, including this gem about the value of motivational posters, that says:

“If a pretty poster and a cute saying are all it takes to motivate you, you probably have a very easy job. The kind robots will be doing soon.”

Now the posters pictured here (click on them for a larger view) aren’t meant to be ironic or funny, at least that’s the appearance of it. They’re all from a website that appears to sell legitimate safety supplies. Unfortunately, they’ve decided to add some “quality” posters to their site. Most are puzzling if not unintentionally hilarious. I stumbled across them looking for some bad motivational posters to use for facilitating a version of Deming’s “Red Bead” exercise. To the left, Charlie Brown attempts to assemble a doll that hasn’t gone through the Design for Manufacturing Process.



Stalin says “Get back to work, comrade!!!”

Really, is a poster like this supposed to help?





Good thing the Pharaoh finally came out to the desert floor to inspect their work. I wonder how many pyramid builders tried to “stop the line” but were whipped instead? Pharoah Stalin says “Get back to work!”




Is this almost an illustration of a stable, but incapable, process?





This is how Stalin punished workers for producing bad quality, apparently.

I wish I had something more profound to say to wrap this up, I think the posters pretty much tell the story themselves. Posters do not lead to quality. Does Toyota rely on posters like this? I doubt it.

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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an book titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

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3 Comments on "Krazy Kwality Posters"

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  1. Pete Abilla says:

    Sloganeering — not good for the firm and, in a subtle way, it is unintenionally disrespecting people by producing feelings of guilt and low esteem when the root cause, often times, is poor management as Deming would argue, or the system itself.

  2. Ron Pereira says:

    I can’t lie… I do love that one poster that said “Adapt or Perish.” It had some dead horse or something on it to remind us all. Of course this was also at Motorola where they commenced to fire 50,000 people since some knuckle head decided digital phones were a fad. Guess he didn’t see the dead horse picture.

  3. Pilchard says:

    If a company must put up pretty pictures to prove they are doing something, you can’t do much better than flow charts and instructional diagrams related to the processes undertaken in that cell or area. Give them something that will actually help them work smarter, don’t just tell them that they should be.

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