By Mark Edmonson, Lean Affiliates
Mark Graban's post earlier today “Lean Isn't about ‘Productivity” and “Quality'” was inspired writing. I couldn't agree more…Marketing and Product Development/Design are critical parts of the product value stream that many “high quality” companies neglect. Design also may be the most cost effective way for a company to quickly improve its quality.
Just this year, JD Powers recognized the importance of design, and changed their “Initial Quality Study” for new vehicles so results now recognize “that Vehicle Design Plays As Critical a Role in Consumer Perceptions of Quality as Defects and Malfunctions”. And guess what happened to the rankings when design was added as a criterion? Porsche went from the bottom 10 in 2004 to #1 in 2006. Apparently many covet a Porsche for its design and forgive its added costs for maintenance and repairs.
Remember Durant's strategy for overtaking Ford in the early 20th century? Offer cars with more attractive style and features for only a bit more $. Although Chevrolet didn't have better “quality” than Ford, the strategy worked, and they over took Ford's market share in 1927. GM never looked back, and offering style and design was their competitive advantage through the 60s. People like Durant, Bill Mitchell, and Larry Shinoda led their inspired design teams who created vehicles the public instantly coveted (49 Olds, 57 Chevrolet, 63 Stingray, 63 Riveria, and 67 Camaro are just a few of their classic designs that come to mind).
It doesn't cost any less to a build dowdy, poorly designed car than a stylish, beautifully designed one. This may be the cost-effective secret GM needs to realize…again.
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