Deceiving Industry with Quality: How Customers could Give the right signal of Quality?

People in the business are busy defining the definition of Quality for them to be better at producing, delivering and satisfying for the benefits of customers. However, sadly, many customers still deceived by these terms of quality that people or customer of often said that if they want a high quality then there will have to incur high cost. “Good products means high cost”


As a customers, we see much too often that buying a quality product is about getting information from another people such as our friends, colleagues, or review of great product and then determined which one is quality product according to them and go to store and buy it.

What happen is sometimes people forget that quality products means that this product fulfilled customer’s satisfaction and that customer that is satisfied is actually is  “us” or “we” or in your case is “you”. At the beginning, quality is defined as those products that could best match and fulfilled customer’s needs. With this definition, I therefore sometimes feels awkward when I heard inside a store when a person tries to buy a high quality product merely for the sake that it is deemed good by the product label or a review from a reviewer body such as review in YouTube or any articles or professional reference magazines.

I am not trying to point out that these sources of information that tries to provide customers with the best possible references of current best high quality product is useless. It is indeed, the other way around. These references will be so much helpful for customers to know the average high quality product as perceived by the so called representation of customers such as YouTube, or some other reviewers online in internet or offline. However, the real customer is a single one of us that go into the store and buy a product. Therefore, when a customer go into a store, they have to realize that buying a high quality product means buying a product that best fit with their needs because high quality products as perceived by company that many company tries to capture is to make a product that best fit your needs.

when a customer go into a store, they have to realize that buying a high quality product means buying a product that best fit with their needs because high quality products as perceived by company that many company tries to capture is to make a product that best fit your needs.

Buying a product only because you think that the product have a high quality as labeled by reviewers or manufacturers is deceiving for a long term. It is because in the long run, if customers buying high quality products that actually they don’t really need, they unfortunately send a sign to the manufacturers that the product that they produced is indeed have a high quality as it sold good in the market. Thus, at the end, Industry will have a false impression of a good quality product.

As we can see in the picture above, we as a customer sometimes easy to see that the product is not conform with the level of quality that we should have, but not with the case with detecting and acknowledging that there are also some products that actually we don’t need and do not conform with our needs because they are just over-qualified.

chinese female shopping

Over-qualified products get noticed from the effects after we buy this kind of products. We will likely never use many features that it have because it seems so advance and cool in the advertisement but actually we never actually need it or inappropriate at time of use. Therefore, we will just usually store it in our house because it seems have a value and function that will benefited us at the time of buying, but when it comes to using the product there are simply no place and proper time to use it.

Think about a very nice high tech Hand phone you bought or a very nice dressed that you bought. How many feature in our Hand phone that we don’t actually need and how many nice dressed that we thought it will be nice to buy it and wear it to a huge event in which this event will never yet come.

Buying high quality product is to buy a product that best fit your need.

Because every company in the world will do anything to create product that best fit your need, then why you are buying a product that is under-qualified or over-qualified to fit your need. Sometimes illusion of advertisement will make us buy this over-qualified product and the sense of security of spending money will make us buy all the under qualified product that will not fulfill our needs.But the best to gift signal for companies all around the world to be better at reading customers’ real needs or quality level is to show them by buying only the products that we really need.


Join Green Movement in Urban Area

Last post, in my personal article focusing on plastic bag, I have elaborated the importance of the role of Industry in determining the progress of  transformation into green and sustainable living. In addition to the Industry effort, we as a customers in any supply chain, a human that lives in the earth and a parent that will have to pass on the living environment to our future generation, has an obligation to the progress of green and sustainability of living around us.

For those of you that live in Urban area where people bustle everyday, tall buildings occupying most spaces  and transportation seems never stop their activities, the hustles will be more intensive than people that live in suburban or small city area. However, I can convince you that it is possible to still join Green Movement to preserve the good side of the city that we have know and to fix those that have already been destructed by pollution and other matters. Below are several tips for you to get to move and participate in small act to make our city Greener and more comfortable for a living.

1. Electricity and Water Use Awareness

By saving energy and water, we actually will in the end save our money.The US Department of Energy has statistically calculated the hundreds of dollars savings that could be achieved by smartly using energy and water. From Coffee Maker, Refrigerator, Fan, Clock Radio, Cell Phone Charger, Personal Computer until Printer, there are still a lot of possibility that we can cleverly reduce our consumption.

One great example is to turn off the lights if you know that you will leave the room for more than 15 minutes or you can also put a sensor to further save electricity. Another is sharing fridge. Sharing fridge seems have a little impact, but in reality, the cost of electricity from fridge itself is consider as large in comparison to other home appliances. So, instead of buying small fridge for each of rooms in your house or apartment, you can plan to share a fridge.

2. Buy Green Products

Eating organic, free-range, local and fair trade are also a great options that will definitely have a positive impact. However, because those products are rather expensive, an alternative is to to eat less meat, use canvas bag when you can, use recyclable plastic bag and buy from your local to get anything from fishes and meats to vegetables or fruits and still contribute to environment.

Buying green products will also unconsciously lead you to healthier living by avoiding more and more consumption of junk food which have bad effects that will later take away money from your pocket due to obesity, diabetes, depression and nutrient deficiencies.

3. Urban Farming

The previous two tips are all about getting better at managing what we already have. The next tips will be about making small changes that have a big impact. It starts with Urban farming. It is the practice of cultivating, processing, and distributing food in or around a village, town, or city.

Urban Farming is very fun activity to do. If you have a garden in your house, you can use it as your own farm. Even if you have only a roof (flat roof ones), you could turn it into a space for farming. Urban Farming is so easy as you can simply use your window as a medium for farming which Urban Farming Communities called windowfarms.

Urban Farming communities is now everywhere in the world, you can find communities around you with the like minded purpose and the good thing is that all that effort you spend in your farm will be fruitful as you can sell it as an organic product through Urban Farm communities and organizations. The organization also has good resources for education from methods of urban farming until ways to plant a certain plant and dealing with issues like watering and soon.

4. Cycle to Work

Another fun way is Bike to Work scheme. Using bicycle to go to work is a very effective method to achieved so many things. It is not only contributing to a more greener and sustainable environment, but also saving money for gasoline and make you more healthy. For some people, indeed, Cycle to work could also save life.

If you have a road bike, you can go to work riding it and take a shower in your office and you will be fresh and energetic to start your day. Another good alternative that I found very compelling is to use Folding Bike. I love folding bike because it gives commuters so much flexibility on the way. There are many combination of method that can be done using folding bike to get us to workplace in no time.

5. Change our Mindset from “WANT” to “NEED”

Our mindset is a powerful thing. Have you heard about feeling lonely in a crowd ? This is exactly what mindset is able to do. It can make you happy or unhappy when you decide that the circumstances seem to prove that you should have it. The fundamental change in mindset could change the way we behave and how it affects our surrounding.

To change mindset, the key is to know what our currently mindset is toward a particular situation. Oftentimes, in relations with buying or shopping, we as a customer has been automatically set our mindset into “WANT mindset”. The reason is, this is the right mindset that all retailer shops want customers to have so that customers will more likely to buy their products.

So, now we should change our mindset to NEED instead of WANT. Think before buy is a good step to take. Do some researches before buying anything instead of getting tempted on the spot when you see a very nice advertisement. Go online, watch videos, read articles and make sure that you purchase good stuffs that you need. Then, you will be surprise by how much stuffs you really need and how much stuffs you already have that are actually got there and hanging around since you first bought it.

Managing by Heart: What Leaders Should Learn from Toyota

Toyota has come into test by recall of its vehicle all around the world. From the lens of customers, recall means a bad action because it looks like Toyota has so many defects. In fact, not in all recall Toyota found defective parts. But why Toyota do recall that actually give a bad impression to customers?

For those who oversimplify business and looking only into short term action, this bad impression will persist. However, the actual reason of this recall is to better satisfy customer in the long term. I would not talk here about recall issues in specific, instead, the focus on the long term and the focus on the satisfaction of customers, even when the customers still do not know that the action will satisfy them in the long term because it disappoint them in the short term.


This ideal principal of Toyota is not only mere a tag line to make its company looks professional, but it is a living system that proves it consistency on focusing on satisfying customers in the long term.

This is the reason that Toyota is one of the leader in Automotive Industry. To be a leader, we have to focus on satisfying customers and on the other hand those who do not focus on satisfying customers in the long term will soon enough perish. This great ideal philosophy has been around us for decades.

In the Bible for example those who will be a leader has to be a servant.

Matthew 20:25-26
25Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,

In addition, Scientifically, This term has been coined by experts to be called servant leadership.

Servant leadership is a philosophy and set of practices that, together, enrich the lives of individuals, build better organizations and ultimately create a more just and caring world. A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid,” servant leadership is different. The servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.

Pillar of Toyota which is Respect for People and the principle to contribute to society has make Toyota a serving leader among all Automotive companies. Additionally, this behavior of serving leader not only shown in the big area as a company but also reflected in the response of the CEO Akio Toyoda when storms face Toyota.

The video below shows how servant leadership of Akio Toyoda to many segment of communities.


This video declare his intention on being a servant companies to the public. Not enough doing this, he also made 2 additional steps to deliver the message to customers by doing apologize talk show in television and also making a TV commercial which will incur additional cost for Toyota.


Surprisingly, what many customers do not know is the truly profound act from Akio Toyoda that proves his quality as a Servant Leader. Instead of getting mad and talking about profit and losing money, he went to America team and greet the assembly workers. He also delivered a really deep gratitude to all his employee to support him in the difficult situation. He knew that he is a servant to a customer. but he also knew that he is a servant of his employees and therefore he is the leader.

The servant leader will says thank you to all who support him, but an ignorant leader will get mad to all his subordinate in order to get profit get into the company back. Ignorant leader will obviously get back the profit on the short term but not in the long term due to his ignorance to all employee that experience additional suffering in the crisis from their leader. But the servant leader will get back slowly but certain. The company not only will getting back on its foot, but all employee will go forward together because the culture of servant leader is embedded and spread inside the company with its CEO as a living guide. The effect is an enormous viral movement inside the company that makes everyone in the company to try hard to be a servant leader and in the end helping in serving customers and bring the company into number 1.


ISO 9000 Standards and TQM

Sometimes looking out to advance statistical methods or trying to create a suggestion systems and other detail project will draw us further from the fundamental philosophy of what quality is in general. Thus, I bought a book about Quality Management that is good as an introduction to Quality for those who is just learning about Quality but also a reminder for those who deals with Quality for quite a long time. Because I believe it is true, that someone who works in Quality engineering will sometimes get carried out in their job and forget about the meaning of Quality from bird’s eye view and from customer point of view. I currently read Quality Management Demystified by Sid Kemp that is published by Mc Graw Hill.

As I going through the pages of the book, it reopens knowledge that is long buried and I can refresh my memory and gain new insight. One thing that really catch my attention is the sentence below. 

Meeting ISO 9000 requirements is like doing the first year of Deming’s five year approach to transformation through TQM.

Both ISO 9000 and TQM is different but like TQM, ISO 9000 can only succeeds if it is integrated with organizational management and resolves the conflict between productivity and product quality.


A company that truly wants to transform through quality management would do well to begin with ISO 9000.  In one way, ISO 9000 does move in a direction that is different from TQM. The emphasis on auditing—both internal and external—is greater.  But ISO 9000 is helping a company toward achieving better quality system with less cost compare because the company do not have to reinvent the wheel by starting from zero.

ISO 9000 can certainly be adapted to a TQM company because for a TQM company they have already had a system in place that works. So for example  TQM quality engineer can easily qualify to be an ISO 9000 quality auditor. But for a new company that is not ready with TQM or just want to begin with TQM, ISO 9000 could really help them  begin with their journey to a better quality system just like doing the first year of Deming’s five year approach.


Corporate Culture… ( from the book )

In TQM, the way a culture of quality spreads through a company is through the influence and guidance of leadership. This is supported by high levels of training and by recruitment and indoctrination practices that select people who fit in well with corporate culture and values. As long as people who are committed to the company and to quality are selected, they can be included in the TQM company somewhere,and can move to a job that is a good fit if necessary. This fits very well with Theory Y management.


ISO 9000 is possibly more compatible with Theory X management. It relies more on independent validation proving that good work is being done, and less on influencing each worker to evoke a commitment to quality. It puts more resources into independent checking, and less into training.


Kaizen : Through the Lens of Sociological Perspective

Kaizen is all about making a continuous improvement. At a glance, it seems the definition could really easy to catch and understandable. Lean and Quality is apart of Kaizen and both can be sustain if the culture of Kaizen is inside the organization. In plain words, whether it is for a person, a group of people, an organization, or a global company, achieving high quality with low cost, increasing delivery capability ( response and speed ),  and gaining the right level of flexibility ( in terms of variety and volume ) together with an increase of productivity, Kaizen is the answer. It is the root that could make Lean and Quality living in the system.

In this post, I would like to point out that understanding Kaizen philosophy will help us to get started with Lean and/or Quality. However, as experts have warned us against all the too much simplification of Lean and/or Quality, the danger of viewing Lean and/or Quality by neglecting people’s interest and dynamic can lead to catastrophic result. We, both beginners or experts tend sometimes to focus on technical stuff. In Lean Management, this disease is called concentrating only to the methods and not the philosophy. In Quality, this is called the disease of dealing with quality as a product/engineered product quality only and not dealing with the whole quality as perceive by the customer.


This tells us that in Lean as well as in Quality, the involvement of Human side adds value to the success of it’s movement. Practitioners in Lean have clearly stressed out that culture of providing customers with value by means of eliminating waste has to be begin by a cultural change. On the other side in Quality movement, it is also have been said that Quality engineering is not a complete Quality, and the Culture of Quality First for customers come with the involvement of workers. Both have point out the importance of workers and not just methods or tools or engineering calculation. Thus, it is safe to say that Kaizen needs to take care both Social and Technical perspective for it to success. Both methods and human is technical and social that forms  a sociotechnical systems which refers to the interrelatedness of social and technical aspects of an organization. Thus, in my opinion it is important to think in terms of sociotechnical systems when we want to move forward with Lean and/or Quality.


Kaizen Story : A Commuter Life in Foreign Country

Being a student in a foreign country leaves me with little choice when it comes to transportation. I studied not too far from Bremen, Germany and have an experience of travelling by carrying bicycle with bus or train. I always feel like bicycle in a train or a bus could draw attention  of passengers especially on the busy hours. The regular bicycle that we carry into train or bus will attract the attention of others due to the space that it will consume that can actually be the space for them.


In addition, trying to comply with the rules regulated by the local government, a bicycle on the buss or train is subject to a certain price to travel along with us. I think this is because of the reason for space that I mentioned. However, as a student in a foreign country, bicycle is my primary mode of travel. I use bicycle to go to campus, shopping, travel to other cities on the weekend, go to friends house, etc. Basically, for most of them, there will be a combination of riding a bicycle and carrying a bicycle on the train or bus


Thinking about saving time and money, I determined to do continuous improvement on myself by investing in a folding bicycle which will leave me free of charge of expenses on train or bus when carrying folding bicycle. I can also stripping away the complexities of urban life faster than before. It offers a healthy and cost effective method of commuting plus the advantage of multi-mode travel versus conventional bikes.



I think it is not exaggerating that folding bicycles is the most appropriate solution for nowadays busy urban life. I bought Dahon Mu P8 after considering and weighting the effect of changing bicycle from conventional into folding bike. Additionally, Dahon Mu P8 is a really good folding bicycle which comfortable, light and stylish to ride.

Advantages of Folding Bikes
  • Foldable bikes offer flexibility and ease of commuting via train/bus and bike as they can be carried free on public transport.
  • They are virtually thief-proof, a huge advantage in major cities  where bike theft is commonplace.
  • Folders, as they are lovingly called by their owners, fit effortlessly into cramped spaces so are ideal for apartment owners.
  • Used as a commuter bike, they offer a healthy, green method of transport and potential cost savings versus a car when used with public transport for longer journeys.
  • Folding bikes are great as training bikes for cyclists travelling abroad and are super easy to pack as they simply fold into a travel bag.
  • They have a high resale value so are a good investment.
  • Buying a folding bike is pretty straightforward as they generally only come in one size with other parts such as the seat post offering different “sizes” for individual riders.

Read more at Suite101: Why Ride a Folding Bike?: Pros and Cons of Buying a Foldable Bicycle |

Folding Bikes that I have…